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Plate processing: Choosing a style and partner


Structural steel fabricators often require between 10% and 15% of plate connections depending on project design. Base plates, end plates, stiffeners, shear tabs and washers are all examples of parts generally made from plate steel. Investing in a plate processing machine lets the fabricator have more control of their plate inventory, just in time availability of parts and easier control of reporting to both engineers of record and in-house ERP software. With so many choices out there, how should you determine what type of machine to invest in?

There are two basic types of plate processing machines:

Gantry style machines

Machines with stationary rails and cutting surface with a moveable gantry, which traverses the plate in both length and width to produce parts from plate stock.

Gantry style advantages

  • Versatile machine to run a full nest of more complex parts
  • Larger products, runs both small and large parts equally well
  • Optimal productivity from half-capacity - load/unload half of the cutting table while the other half is processing
  • Bevel capability on some models
  • Stock material on; finished parts automatically unloaded

Gantry style machines

Voortman V310 Plate drilling and plasma cutting (moving gantry)

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Voortman V304 Plasma cutting (moving gantry)

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Voortman V302 Plate cutting (moving gantry)

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Passthrough style machines

Machines with a stationary gantry and material conveying through the machine to be processed.

Passthrough style advantages

  • Stock material on; finished parts automatically unloaded
  • Smaller footprint with all operations contained inside a small area
  • Max productivity; performs better with smaller parts
  • Reduced material handling when supplied with a cross transfer to load automatically as a standalone machine or part of an MSI system for full automation
  • Bevel capability on some models

Passthrough style machines

Voortman V325 Heavy plate drilling, cutting & milling (passthrough)

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Voortman V320 Plate drilling and cutting (passthrough)

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Other features are also available that could benefit either style of plate processing machine. Some gantry plate machines also come with a drill spindle that can further reduce operational costs by removing the need for extra material handling to a secondary operation.

Ultimately, it’s up to the fabricator to decide which style of machine gives them the best return on investment and performs best in their operation. Choose a partner wisely and they’ll help work you through the process and stand by with service, parts and consumables. The right supplier will work with both your detailing software and ERP software to control inventory and part production accuracy, on schedule and well reported.

Hear it from our customers

Gubi Smedeteknik - Søren Gubi - Denmark

“We came to the Experience Center and by that moment I was sold.”
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Egger Pumps - Gregory Dind - Switzerland

“Now with the Voortman machine, all processes are performed with the same machine. We have reduced production times on the milling machines, a better cut quality and less work cleaning the parts for internal post processing.”
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Caterpillar Work Tools B.V. - Harold van Tooren - Netherlands

“With our new Voortman V304 plate cutting machine we are now able to automate bevelling which we used to do manually; this will save us more than 50% processing time.”
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SCW Contracting Corp - Andy & Steve Scrape - United States

"These two pieces of equipment work seamlessly together. They produce at incredible rates. To have one without the other just wouldn't really make sense."
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