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  • Template Material

    I have an opportunity to make some $$$ cutting out small designs with my plasma cutter on some 18 gauge material. Since I don't have CNC it will be a lot of repetitive cuts by hand. Their previous vendor raised their price for these items from $1.00 to $5.00 each, so I figure I can charge a reasonable price and make it worth my time, all I need to do is make some templates to fit my plasma torch head. Anybody have any suggestions of what type of material I could use that is heat resistant, durable and easy to work with?
    Thanks in advance.
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  • #2
    I made quite a few of them from 1/16" brass when it was cheap and easy to get. Alum would be ok too...Bob
    Bob Wright

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    • #3
      How many pieces do the templates have to hold up for? I've always seen/used aluminum for repetitive pcs.
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      • #4
        How about steel.

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        • #5
          I've used Aluminum for them for years with no problem. Used as plasma cutter templates and patterns for mounting equipment were we drilled small holes an automatic center punch would fit through to transfer the marks letting the edge of the pattern set up against the edge like a square.
          "The only source of knowledge is experience." Albert Einstein

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MMW View Post
            How many pieces do the templates have to hold up for? I've always seen/used aluminum for repetitive pcs.
            Probably several hundred over a period of time. I considered aluminum, but was wondering if anybody had used any non-conductive material that I couldn't accidentally gouge with the torch.
            Miller Syncrowave 200
            Homemade Water Cooler
            130XP MIG
            Spectrum 375
            60 year old Logan Lathe
            Select Machine and Tool Mill
            More stuff than I can keep track of..

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            • #7
              Have you thought about having something phenolic made? I guess making it not melt would be an issue though...

              What about using Plywood? Its at least cheap enough that if you burn a piece of it, you wont care, and you can make another with a bandsaw very easily.
              Precision is only as important as the project...if you're building a rocket ship...1/64" would matter. If you're building a sledgehammer...an 1/8" probably wont.

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              • #8
                whatever you have on the scrap pile will do fine.

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                • #9
                  I think Id look into FRT plywood. A little time a jigsaw, and a Dremel, w/kit you should be able to make some fine templates.

                  http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr62.pdf
                  Caution!
                  These are "my" views based only on my experiences in my little bitty world.

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                  • #10
                    I have had good results using 1/8" tempered masonite.

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                    • #11
                      another idea

                      What about a pantograph. You could modify a router pantograph to hold the torch and the template could be just a drawing. A pantograph would also let you change the size of the part being cut using the same template. It would be easier than holding a torch against a template in my opinion. You could make one also. If you're not sure how to make one, you could get a drawing pantograph on e bay cheap and duplicate it in a larger scale out of metal.
                      Last edited by monte55; 12-15-2009, 12:12 PM. Reason: added text
                      Nick
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                      • #12
                        nocheepgas,

                        I have used thin pieces (1/4" ) of graphite plate I got on ebay.

                        They cost me about $18 a sq ft but for doing hundreds of pieces, I found this stuff well worth it. But for just a few pieces, alum or steel is fine.

                        I tried to cut it with my plasma cutter but even at 60 amps, the edges of the graphite just got red but didn't cut.

                        Might be overkill for your application but it made my job easy.

                        A big concern is cutting the graphite to make the template but I used my drill press with a milling but and a milling vise to cut the shapes.

                        Had fun with some friends by having them trying to cut the graphite after they cut alum and steel sheet.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Burnt hands View Post
                          nocheepgas,

                          I have used thin pieces (1/4" ) of graphite plate I got on ebay.

                          They cost me about $18 a sq ft but for doing hundreds of pieces, I found this stuff well worth it. But for just a few pieces, alum or steel is fine.

                          I tried to cut it with my plasma cutter but even at 60 amps, the edges of the graphite just got red but didn't cut.

                          Might be overkill for your application but it made my job easy.

                          A big concern is cutting the graphite to make the template but I used my drill press with a milling but and a milling vise to cut the shapes.

                          Had fun with some friends by having them trying to cut the graphite after they cut alum and steel sheet.
                          Sounds like that might be worth a try, Thanks!
                          Miller Syncrowave 200
                          Homemade Water Cooler
                          130XP MIG
                          Spectrum 375
                          60 year old Logan Lathe
                          Select Machine and Tool Mill
                          More stuff than I can keep track of..

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