TABLE: Swift-Cut 2500 with Water Table

Paul and Catherine Richardson are the directors of Steel Sculptures Limited, a Suffolk-based company that’s a little different from our average Swift-Cutter. Instead of producing precision auto parts or high-performing research equipment with their plasma cutting machine, they create art for both public exhibitions and private commissions.

Sheffield Hallam University image

Before purchasing their Swift-Cut Plasma Cutting Table in July 2014, Paul and Catherine were working with a hand-held plasma cutter in addition to outsourcing their CNC work to other companies. After researching plasma cutting tables, they settled on a Swift-Cut 2500 for the following reasons

  1. Swift-Cut machines are sturdy and have a robust body, which sets them apart from the competition
  2. Instead of a hand-torch mounted to a clamp, Swift-Cut machines have a purpose-built CNC torch on their machines, which ensures a clean, 90-degree cut with less wear on consumables
  3. Swift-Cut’s English HQ is a definite advantage as it allows Swift-Cut to provide excellent customer service and technical support in addition to providing easy access to consumables through local suppliers
  4. The water table feature reduces dust and fumes that are byproducts of the plasma cutting process, which is a real benefit in Paul and Catherine’s small workshop
  5. The price fit within Steel Sculpture Ltd’s limited budget and although the Swift-Cut 2500 did stretch their budget a bit, Catherine notes that the benefit of being able to take whole sheets of metal for larger jobs has outweighed any cons

So how do Steel Sculptures Limited use their Swift-Cut machine? “We have already used it for a variety of different jobs,” Catherine says. These jobs include a decorative screen with a delicate tree design cut-out and some large board game sculptures– including a 2 metre-high Mr Monopoly and a 2 metre-high rolling dice!  “We didn’t expect to use [the machine] much for the figure sculpture, but we found ourselves using the free hand drawing option in one of the programmes to create realistic ears and eyebrows in perfectly matching pairs. It was also very helpful when making the large top hat! In other sculptures, like the 2 metre high rolling dice, it was a breeze to draw up and cut the parts, especially compared to a hand-held cutting alternative!”

The machine has also saved them money as they no longer have to buy ready-made parts or outsource their CNC work.  With the machine influencing the way they innovate, design and build their pieces, they’re able to take on a larger variety of projects and turn them around more quickly, thereby streamlining their production process.

The Swift-Cut Swift-Trace Tool has also been a great help to Catherine and Paul, particularly when they had a hollow horse sculpture cast and needed to create bases for the bottom of the hooves. The problem was that each hoof was a completely irregular shape and the bases needed to match and fit exactly. To create the bases, they simply drew around the hoof with black pen on cardboard and then used Swift-Trace to cut out a perfectly matching set of hoof plates, allowing the horse to stand tall and securely.

Steel Sculptures Limited images

Installing the machine in their Suffolk workshop was simple and Catherine feels that they were given just enough instruction to get them started without overwhelming them with information. Whenever they had a question, help was just a phone call away, which gave Catherine and Paul the confidence to remain calm in the face of unfamiliar technology. “Our work is clearly at the unusual end of the CNC spectrum and we were occasionally pushing the cutting limits, but Swift-Cut were very open to our needs,” they say.

They haven’t even had the machine six months, and already they’re creating great work on their machine. At this pace, we can’t wait to see what they’re going to come up with next!

For more, visit SteelSculptures.co.uk or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.