What started out as a simple process to cut metal is now a fast, productive tool.

Back in 2007 Paul van Niekerk, CEO of CNC Clear Cut, needed a plasma cutter but couldn’t afford one. However, with two decades of experience in steel manufacturing, it occurred to him that he could probably design one himself.

Van Niekerk qualified as an aircraft fitter when he completed a stint of five years in the South African Air Force before moving to a company that manufactured components for the automotive OEMs such as Nissan and Mercedes. It was at this commercial enterprise that the calling came for plasma cut components and van Niekerk is happy to admit that he had no knowledge or experience in plasma cutting. Cost implications of an imported machine steered van Niekerk to investigate alternative options that would have a profound influence on his professional career.

After securing some investment, van Niekerk set about building a prototype in his garage. It took a full year to complete, and cost twice as much to develop as it was ultimately sold for, but it was a phenomenal success. “We took a year to develop our first machine, which was eventually sold to Wubbeling Engineering. This machine is still in service today. The machines we manufacture today are vastly different to the machine that Wubbeling Engineering purchased, but it proves that our machines are reliable.”

“We can’t say that our machines comprise of 100% local content because the main working components, such as the Hypertherm power source, bearings and a big part of the electronics, are not made in South Africa and we have to import these components. However, the rest of the machine is locally fabricated and constructed and they are all designed internally.”

“In essence you could say that we have developed a fast, efficient plasma cutting table that is enhanced by the use of internationally recognised working components, software and accessories that come together in perfect harmony at optimal speeds using the correct amperages to fit the profile of material size and type.”

What makes a plasma cutting table great isn’t simply its ability to move a cutting torch with speed and accuracy. There are additional considerations, depending on what a client wants cut. For example, plasma cutting generates conductive dust, which can play havoc with nearby electronics if uncontrolled. For cutting thin stainless steels, CNC Clear Cut offers tables equipped with HVAC systems that suck the dust away during the cut. If the intended material is long and thick, CNC Clear Cut might recommend a waterbed table instead. Water also traps dust and helps keep the steel cool during the cut, which in turn prevents heat deformation.

CNC Clear Cut has embraced the idea of offering a complete solution rather than just selling a plasma cutting table. To help customers get up and running, and get the most out of their machines, CNC Clear Cut offers a full on-site training programme. Once your plasma cutting table has been delivered, a qualified trainer will be available to educate any staff on how to maintain and operate the equipment. CNC Clear Cut can also train a customer’s staff in the CAD skills necessary to design cuts for the tables to perform, and can provide CAM training using any of the recognised software as well as CNC training of the CNC controls that run the machines.

“Whether you are in metal art, gate, fence, railing and staircase manufacture, frames, posts, furniture, cabinet, letter cutting, faceplate and logo design and manufacture, in the shipbuilding, structural steel, construction, energy and mining industries or just general fabrication, we have a machine for you, even one that can do 5-axis bevel cutting. Duct work, brackets, gussets, flanges and angles are just a few of the many different components that have been cut on our machines.”