Hi, All I’m only new to this so please bear with me.
Can I use Lightburn to run a CNC Plasma cutter as well as a laser cutter
I’m trying to streamline the operation and running so my wife and I only have to learn one programe.
I assume you should be able to switch between machines just like having to select between two printers on the same network.
I bet it could if you ran the plasma cutter off of a laser controller that it supports. The only thing you would not have is THC possibly. I keep meaning to find myself a a spare Ruida controller to build a LightBurn controlled plasma cutter. I have the plasma cutter, the motion control, the steel, and LightBurn. I just need a controller and time.
The first question to ask is which Controller does your CNC Plasma cutter use? If it’s a GRBL based controller, then, the first order problem is solved and LB can drive your cutter’s Torch On/Off, X,Y, and Speed commands.
@Stroonzo hit on the second order problem and that is control of THC & Z, but there’s also Pierce Delay (a vital parameter in PC) that doesn’t have any direct mapping to LB controls.
As far as I know, there is no published means to modify post processors for LB. If this is true then you’d be hard pressed to tailor a PP to work optimally with your PC.
VIM editor custom macro to post-process the saved gcode from LB, it simply replaces M3 & M5 commands with gcode blocks that performs per-cut torch touchoff and retract commands for accurate PH, ITH, Pierce delay, and at end of cut THC switch delay and torch retract. VIM editor: download : vim online The custom macro: plasmapp.vim.txt (1.2 KB)
@TomWS Lead-in, cut starting point, and cut direction are set/managed by LB feature and editing.
Torch Probing, Pierce Height, Pierce Delay, Initial Torch Height, are set in the custom VIM macro.
And because of the THC design/model that I have, I also use a preRetract Delay after the cut; the reason for this delay is to allow time for the THC to switch Z control back to the CNC controller.
I edit the custom VIM macro file for adjusting to different material types and thicknesses. Crude but effective Most of my cutting involves artsy crafty projects using 18ga - 10ga mild steel, and I’ve found the PH, ITH, and PD to be good enough at a common setting for all. Soon I’ll be cutting some 0.250 mild steel, and I suspect some of that may change a bit.
Notable point: The Proma SD THC has a settable Delay parameter, which I find works best at 3.0 seconds. This means the THC won’t switch the Z control wires to internal for that delay period, which is why the PH to ITH transition works, but this delay also keeps Z from moving in short cuts where the plasma arc voltage can fluctuate somewhat and where the cut material is not likely to have warped yet from the heat.
I suppose one could plasma cut without a THC or the per-cut torch touchoff routine, in which case LB’s Cut-Through feature would suffice as the pierce delay, but there would be no Z moves for transition from PH to ITH.
Thanks everyone for the input, seems to be a lot to take in and digest. I’ll have a talk to my staff and see whether they want to learn another program or i start to reconfigure what we already have setup on the plasma cutter