Plasma Technology

Fine-tuning fire

By Gretchen Salois


A modular setup, easy retrofit and adjustability improve cutting capabilities

September 2013 - When a company goes after work in a new field, it often means adding or increasing production capabilities. For example, in Marietta, Okla., InnovationOne LLC needed a plasma cutting solution capable of cutting up to and including 3-in.-thick material. “We knew we [needed to upgrade our cutting process] and had a certain budget we had to stay in,” says Dean Lowery, production supervisor for InnovationOne.

InnovationOne cuts structural steel for distribution centers, construction companies, airport baggage handling and more recently for the oil field industry. Looking to increase its capacity, it vetted five different companies and compared units. The combination of technological features, cost, life of consumables, quick-change torches, modular setup, gases, and user-friendly touch screen and prompts offered on Ladson, S.C.-based Burny Kaliburn’s Spirit II 400
FFJ-0913-plasma-image1 won over InnovationOne. “We kept our burn table and exhaust system and Burny Kaliburn replaced everything else with new equipment,” Lowery says. “The machine we had retrofitted was a 1985 model 150 amp Komatsu Fine plasma cutting system with CNC controls on a 6 ft. by 20 ft. table with a downdraft exhaust system.”

InnovationOne provides parts used in header steel, catwalks, stairs, conveyors and structural steel for buildings as well piece components for the oil field industry. Its products are frequently used in the construction and expansion of distribution centers for end users such as Wal-Mart, Dollar General, Walgreens and Dollar Tree. “We’re typically running 10 gauge, which is 1⁄8 in. thick, up to 1 1⁄2 in. thick,” Lowery says, adding the company cuts carbon steel, including A36, grades 50 and 70, and high manganese steel.

InnovationOne has a large client base and provides a wide array of components built to customer specifications. “They work in phases. We’re a 120,000 sq. ft. job shop,” explains Lowery. “Our customers know when they come to us, they want a high level of quality, competitive pricing, quick turnaround and on-time deliveries—and they know that through us, they’ll get it.” The company decided to upgrade its old plasma cutting machine to ensure it could maintain that level of service while also limiting capital expense.

Retrofitting older machines is one of Burny Kaliburn’s specialties. The company works with a variety of existing customer equipment, some of which can be more difficult to retrofit than others. ESAB equipment, for example, can be complex to retrofit because the tables use a different gear rack and therefore require a different pinion.

“We match the parts so the customer doesn’t have to change all the components on the machine, just the ones that are in need of replacement,” says Mark Osowski, director of global sales for shape cutting, Burny Kaliburn. “For a lot of customers, it’s their first time through the retrofitting process. There are a lot of steps throughout the process, FFJ-0913-plasma-image2including speed or inertia matching calculations. We do the entire analysis calculations and provide the solution based on their requirements. Each customer’s situation is different.”

Difference in the details

Burny Kaliburn’s Spirit II Series plasma systems feature FineLine high definition plasma cutting technology with UltraSharp hole technology and Impulse Start, the company’s patented arc starting technology. Impulse Start eliminates high frequency noise and doesn’t affect sensitive electronic equipment on or around the plasma cutting machine. 

“Impulse Start technology eliminates many common startup issues and saves downtime during the life of a cutting machine,” Osowski says. “Other competitors have a spark gap in a remote high frequency box that creates a lot of issues with low level electronics like CNCs. We see enough pain around that area in the field and therefore developed and patented a unique starting technology that’s more reliable and trouble free.”

Setting up the job requires fewer steps because the Spirit II line picks the best amperage to cut once the operator has specified the material type and thickness. The system leaves virtually no dross on the back side, so there’s no secondary operation, such as grinding, needed.

“Corner and hole dross can be chipped off with a chisel so it doesn’t have to go to another machine,” Osowski says. “With our proprietary UltraSharp technology, the holes don’t have to be drilled after being cut as we have engineered bolt-hole quality with our plasma cutting process.”

Lowery says previously, if a part had holes, they might end up egg-shaped and the cut would have to be beveled at one level or another. “Not anymore,” he says. “The curve stays nice and straight and there’s no secondary operation needed to clean up parts before they can be used.”

According to Sriram Harkare, product manager for plasma solutions and motion controls at Lincoln Electric, Burny Kaliburn’s parent company, even the taper on the edge of material is less. “We provide excellent cut-quality over consumable life. For example, for a 200 amp cut process you can get ISO Range 2 cut quality (less than 2.7 degrees of taper) for about 80 percent of the consumable life,” he says. Often it is necessary to grind the edge of a part cut
FFJ-0913-plasma-image3using a plasma cutter because there is anywhere from 6 to 7 degrees of taper after a part is cut.

Burny Kaliburn has also improved its gas valve system, switching from an older motorized valve design, which was slower than the newer proportional valve system. In the newer system, gases come into an aluminum manifold and are routed into a proportional valve which regulates gas flow needed during the cutting process. The cutting process occurs much faster, reducing cycle time and increasing productivity.

“The Spirit II 400 cuts a lot faster and the quick-change heads allow us to go easily from one material thickness to another because the machine sets all the gases,” Lowery says.

On average, the Spirit II Series uses 48 percent less gas than other plasma cutters. “Another difference is the gas console and plasma console are separate so you can configure the system however you want,” Osowski says. “On a typical cutting machine, a customer’s preference is to put the gas console on the bridge where it’s closer to the cutting process because it shortens the coolant and gas hose package, which lowers overall system cost.”

Scrap is reduced because Burny Kaliburn CNC software has advanced nesting capabilities allowing for optimal use of the plate. Removing skeleton scrap is quick. “With our old plasma we could cut only 1 in. of material, but with this system, we can quickly turn around a variety of thicknesses and materials,” Lowery says. “We can set up a number of different jobs at once and they quickly transition one after the other, transitioning from one head to another.”

“The remnant teach feature allows an operator to actually teach the controller the remnant shape by setting multiple positions on the edges of that remnant material,” Harkare says. “They can tell the control what the shape looks like and it will nest the part programs on that remnant material so you can get more parts and minimize the scrap material.”

Burny Kaliburn’s Phantom motion control software also benefits InnovationOne with its wireless network. “Typically in the past, downloading a program to a machine to run a certain material was all done manually,” Lowery says. “With the Burny Kaliburn machine, we have a shapes library where we can select and program a number of parts at the machine.” 

“We offer a wireless package for business networks so you can store part programs on the network and download them off your network,” Osowski says. This feature is especially helpful for customers who have programmers not located at the manufacturing site. “Having wireless capabilities makes it easier for customers to communicate via their servers with a maintenance-free networking solution,” he adds.

“The entire retrofitting process [with InnovationOne’s Komatsu machine] went smoothly,” Lowery says. “Burny Kaliburn’s sales force and guys that came in to do the installation let us know what went on, step by step, and they were upfront with the quote and lead time—and stayed in budget. The machine was running one day earlier than planned and training was very helpful. We haven’t thrown anything at them they haven’t quickly resolved for us and I’m really glad we went the way we did.” FFJ

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  • Burny Kaliburn, a Lincoln Electric company
    Ladson, S.C.
    phone: 800/321-8072
  • InnovationOne LLC, a Chickasaw Nation Industries company
    Marietta, Okla.
    phone: 580/276-3306


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