For my book research, I had decided to purchase 3 plasma cutters that could be used on a plasma CNC. I purchased the Everlast Power Plasma 50s as the middle of the road cutter and decided on the Hypertherm Powermax 65 as the high end model.  

What clinched the deal for me was that Hypertherm offered a bundle that included a hand torch, mechanized torch, remote pendant, and CPC Port. This has incredible saving over purchasing just the mechanized or hand torch and adding the other later. The part number for the bundle is 083300.

The Hypertherm hand torch is a real pain to mount so the mechanized torch is a must if you are going to build a plasma CNC.  That is not to say you can't mount the hand torch, many have, its just more difficult. 

 

Packaging

You have to shop around the various Hypertherm distributors, to find the 083300 bundle. I found a good deal at Bakers Gas as they were also offering a $200 off coupon as part of a promo. I got the bundle for $2980 delivered.

I ordered the bundle Sunday evening  and it arrived at my doorstep on Wednesday afternoon. The outside of the box was in great shape.

 

Upon opening the box, you will be presented with the torches and all accessories. I did however notice that the box was not seated properly.

Here you can see how the box was packed. The packing supports were not seated properly.  Upon contacting Hypertherm, I was advised this is not how the Powermax 65 is packed and that this looks like the packaging used to pack the Powermax 45.

It seems as though Bakers Gas repacked the machine for some reason.  My unit did have a couple dings and dents.  They seem to be cosmetic only as the unit has tested out OK so far.  

I have contacted Bakers Gas about this but so far no response. I will be updating this entry regarding this issue in the future.  But until then, I cannot recommend Bakers Gas as a source for any welding or plasma supplies.

Contents

The Powermax 65 power supply comes without a power plug so you will have to purchase and install one. (More on that later)

The front of the unit has a quick-disconnect socket for the torches, so all you need to do is push the red button on the torch connector to remove it. To install a torch, you just push it into the connector. Its as simple as that.

By having both a machine torch and hand torch you can swap the torches in seconds. My mechanized torch stays connected to the CNC.

The back of the unit has a filter installed, and a 1/4" NPT quick-disconnect nipple for your air source. Your air needs to be clean and dry which I will get into during setup.

Machine Torch and Consumables

You get a 25' mechanized torch.

With the mechanized torch you get the following consumables:

  • 3, 220842 Electrodes
  • 3, 220819 65A Nozzles
  • 1, 220817 Shield
  • 1, 220857 Swirl Ring

Hand Torch and Consumables

You get the 25' H65 75 degree hand torch and the following consumables:

  • 3, 220842 Electrodes
  • 3, 220819 65A Nozzles
  • 1, 220818 Drag Shield
  • 1, 220857 Swirl Ring

As a bonus you also get a gouging kit that contains the following:

  • 1, 220797 Gouging nozzle
  • 1, 220798 Gouging shield

Work Cable

You get a 25' work cable with a DINSE style connector. The connector 9.2mm in diameter.

 

Remote pendent

You get a remote pendent with a 25' cord that plugs into the CPC port.  This allows you to remote trigger the cutter with the machine torch.  This is good form making cutting accessories that utilize the the mechanized torch.  Note that it does not work with the hand torch.

The switch on the pendant is wired to pins 3 and 4 on the CPC port. Some folks remove the cable from the pendent and use it for their CNC connection.

Note that only the "Plasma Start" signal is supported on the pendent cable. If you want to utilize the Transfer (Arc OK) and voltage divider you will need to make your own cable.

Last but not least is the manual.  This is one of the best plasma cutting manuals in the industry. It contains detailed instructions on setting up your machine as well as cutting charts for CNC use.  

A DVD with an older version of the manual in several languages is also included. In addition a safety manual is also included.

 

Setup

Plug Installation

You are required to connect the Powermax 65 directly to your distribution box or to add a power plug to access your outlets.

For single phase connection, many folks are using the Leviton 30/50 Amp 2-Pole/3-Way Grounded Blade plug shown here.

Notice the cable is a 3 phase cable. The red wire is simply cut off with the black and white wires connected to the two main power pins on the plug. The green connector connects to the ground pin on the plug.

For three phase connections please consult the manual.

The Powermax 65 comes with a 1/4" NPT quick-disconnect coupler, so hookup can be as simple as connecting the plasma cutter to your compressor.  In reality its a little more complicated as that.

Lets start with a pressure gauge located at the back of the plasma cutter.  This is very import for getting the correct air pressure dialed in.

What I did was to create a quick-disconnect gauge that can be used on all my machines.

It consists of a T-connector with a male quick-disconnect on one end and a female on the other.  The gauge is connected to the center.

This gauge assembly is then placed between your air source and the plasma cutter as shown.

When dialing in your air pressure, you don't want the pressure to drop below 80PSI when the air is actually flowing through the cutter. 

Dry, Clean Air

The first thing you need on your air system is a regulator.  On portable regulators these are built-in.  On larger stationary compressors they don't come stock, so you will have to add one.

The next thing you will need to add is a cut-off valve.  This makes changing filters and desiccant much easier.

As your compressor runs, it heats the air. As the air cools it condenses and creates moisture in the air. This moisture must be removed before it reaches your plasma cutter.

I am currently using the Campbell Hausfeld Clean Air System to dry my air.  Thus far it has worked very well.  Once the desiccant turns pink, remove it and place it in your microwave under 50% power for about 3 minutes. If it is really pink you may need to do it a couple times. Once it turns a dark blue it ready to be replaced.

CNC Setup

The CNC port is located on upper right corner, on the back of the machine.

The bundle does not included a connector other than the one included on the remote pendent. For this reason you have to purchase one from Hypertherm or make your own.

The Hypertherm connector is around $75 and be hard to find.  The other option is to build your own connector.

Even though I am only using the start signal, I wired a cable with all the signals for future use. 

I use the relay that normally would be used to switch on the router on my CNC machine. The start signal only requires a relay closure on the controller end of your system.

Powermax 65 In Action

This is the KRMx02 and the Powermax 65 cutting a small cross using the FineCut consumables.

This is without any real tuning. I am using book specs cutting at a .075 height.

 

Conclusion

The Hypertherm is a very impressive machine.  It is built like a tank.  But along with this heavy duty build is its equally heavy duty requirements.

Take a look at the power connector on the Powrmax 65. Its three time thicker than the Everlast 50s. You really have to man handle this cord to get it where you need it.  That said it is a 3 phase cord and you can replace it with a smaller single phase cord if needed. The manual gives instruction on connecting a single or three phase cable.

The same is true of the torch cable.  It is at least twice as thick as the PT60 torch on the Everlast 50s.  For this reason I find myself reaching for the Everlast when I need to do hand cutting. Especially if it is a remote location. Its much easier to maneuver.

That said, the drag shield on the Powermax works much better at higher amps.

Lets face it though, I did not purchase the Powermax 65 for use with a hand torch.

The mechanized torch is equally impressive.

In the past I mounted my PT60 hand torch under my gantry using only a single torch mount.

This is not possible with the Hypertherm mechanized torch.  It's just too darn big and heavy.  I had to mount it on the front of the machine using two torch mounts. I also had to build a new floating head to accommodate the large torch.

You can reduce the size of the torch. This is done by removing segments of the torch body. Instructions are included in the manual. It will not reduce the weight of the torch, but it will reduce its height foot print.

You must support the cable when mounted on a CNC.  Here I am using a wooden boom I created to support vacuum hose on the KRMx02 router. 

Air Flow Requirements

One initial problem I had when I first hooked up the Powermax 65, was that my little 6.5 CFM compressor could not keep up.  Even a simple small cut would cause the Powermax 65 to give me a air pressure warning or failure.  This compressor turns on at about 90PSI.  With any kind of pressure drop due to the hose or dryers/filters, would cause the pressure at the back of the plasma cutter to fall below its acceptable threshold.

The compressor worked fine for my Everlast 50s but in comparison the Powermax 65 needs much more air. The manual recommends 6.7 CFM @ 85 PSI. Realistically, you need twice that.  Also a compressor that has a higher max pressure will make it easier to dial-in the pressure and give you a bit of a buffer against pressure drops.

The cut quality and consistency on the Powermax 65 comes at a cost, so I replaced my 6.5 CFM compressor with a 11.5 CFM 3.7HP compressor and all my air flow problems went away.

Honestly, I wanted an even larger compressor, but my shop is power challenged and I need to keep an eye on the total power requirements when all the equipment is running in the shop.  This also includes heaters and air conditioners.

Results So Far

I'm still experimenting with the new Powermax 65, but after a little tuning these are some small hearts I cut using the FineCut consumables.

I got almost no dross on the back end.  The stock is 1/8" thick painted scrap metal. 

 

If you dont need the multi torch bundle, you can pickup the Powermax 65 with the machine torch, CPC port, and remote pendant here:

Powermax 65 w Machine Torch