Plasma Technology
Thursday | 21 August, 2014 | 11:51 am

Outer limits

Written by By Lynn Stanley

Above: ESAB’s heavy-duty Sabre DXG system allows shops to cut with oxy-fuel or plasma, providing the right tool for each job.

Fabricator doubles workload, pushes cutting boundaries with advanced technology

August 2014 - Balancing equipment selection against jobs coming through the door is a bit like walking a tightrope for Canpol Industries President and CEO Greg Wygoda. “The work is always changing as supply and demand fluctuates,” he says. 

For Canpol, keeping its equilibrium means using multipurpose machines that help the full-service fabricator gain market advantages. “We’re continually working to improve efficiencies in production and delivery time. Investing in the right technology, like ESAB’s Sabre DXG CNC cutting system, allowed us to make significant strides in those areas,” Wygoda says. 

Canpol custom fabricates on- and offshore drilling equipment. Its metal processing capabilities—alongside engineering and design, testing, implementation and production services—allow Canpol to tailor jobs from simple yet essential parts to multimillion-dollar projects. Founded in Canada in 2005, the company relocated to Houston in 2011. The family owned business has developed internal control programs targeting both quality and workplace safety. Canpol, like ESAB, has cultivated a reputation for its dedicated hands-on approach with customers. 

Taking control

Looking to bring some work in-house, Canpol needed a machine that could provide precision cutting and higher output. “We wanted to eliminate the quality and delivery problems we were experiencing with outside vendors,” explains Wygoda. ESAB was the first choice. “I felt comfortable with ESAB and with what I could expect in terms of service. We knew we would get a total turnkey machine, meaning we wouldn’t have to use multiple vendors for the control, cutting unit and other components. That made logical sense to me. If I have a problem, I’m dealing with one company, and it’s the company that has developed the system.”


The heavy-duty, low-profile CNC machine with high-speed plasma and oxy-fuel shape cutting was installed in October 2011. It will cover large work surfaces at traverse speeds up to 1,400 ipm (35,560 mm/min). The capability to cut with both oxy-fuel and precision plasma gives Canpol the flexibility to match the right tool to the job at hand. 

“They can optimize cut quality, operating cost or productivity depending on critical part or part nesting requirements as well as modify processes to meet a customer’s cut quality specifications,” says Steve Zlotnicki, product manager, cutting for ESAB Welding & Cutting Products. 

Running 16-gauge mild steel up to 3-inch-thick plate, Canpol uses the Sabre DXG cutting system for virtually every job. “The majority of plate we cut is 1 inch thick,” says Wygoda. “We accomplish 90 to 95 percent of our cutting work using the system’s plasma torch in order to take advantage of the system’s high speeds. We use oxy-fuel when we’re cutting thicker plate because I find we get a higher quality cut.”

The combination frees users like Canpol to focus on productivity but Zlotnicki says it can also open the door to innovation. “Users can seek ways to enhance cutting results that might not be available with a system dedicated to one cutting process. In addition, the programmability of the system’s Vision T5 CNC allows customers to automate activities like switching back and forth between cutting methods and automatic tool offsets.”  

Wygoda and his team, for example, are using plasma and oxy-fuel functions on the same part, cutting small holes or intricate geometry in thick plate with the oxy-fuel torch while using the plasma’s higher speed to cut outside contours.

ESAB’s patented m3 Plasma system aids efficiency for both new applications and mainstream workflow by allowing the system to cut and mark with the same plasma torch. Plasma stations include a high-speed vertical lifter with pneumatically balanced tool-tip sensing, encoder height for boosting hole quality and magnetic breakaway crash protection. 

The Sabre DXG operates two nine-hour shifts per day. “The cutting system doesn’t require much from the operator on the plasma side,” says Wygoda. “Once the operator loads the program, it basically runs itself.”

Touch technology

The Sabre’s patented Vision CNC technology makes setup easy with a built-in database that includes graphic displays of torch parts and part numbers. Torch setup is further simplified with the ability to set parameters through a touch-screen process selector. 

“The touch-screen control makes the machine easier to relate to because it gives you a complete visual,” Wygoda says. “When files are loaded the machine actually shows you which consumables you will need. It makes the learning curve a lot shorter.”


Once operators select material type and thickness, the CNC selects and mixes the best optimal start, cut and shield gas combination. It then generates an image of the torch parts needed for both plasma and oxy-fuel.

Wygoda admits to some trepidation over his decision to invest in technology he previously had no experience with, but his perspective has changed. Once he used the machine, he regretted not getting one sooner. With its efficiencies, “the machine gives you an edge in the market.”

The Sabre DXG’s intuitive format is due in part to ESAB’s Columbus CAD/CAM programming software, which includes automatic nesting and job assembly modules. Canpol can program both simple and highly complex cuts promptly.

The software allows Canpol to “utilize sheet metal more efficiently. We don’t necessarily use a one-to-one scale and we find, with longer pieces, we don’t have to start our pierce points at the end of the part.” Once drawings are imported, the database keeps careful records, “so that when you update, you can keep both versions, erase or overwrite.”

The right mix

Wygoda is pushing the boundaries of the Sabre DXG’s capabilities. Canpol plasma-cuts holes smaller than a 1-to-1 diameter-to-thickness ratio and takes advantage of special software features like chain cutting to get the most consumable life and the highest productivity possible.

An adjunct benefit has been to improve delivery times for Canpol. “That was the biggest hurdle,” Wygoda says, “producing products more efficiently so customers receive them more quickly.”  

With ESAB’s integrated smart technologies, Canpol doubled its workload and propelled output, performing more work in less time. “We can bring a plate in today and have all the parts ready in a couple hours,” Wygoda says. “I could never do that with any outside vendor.”

Canpol has since upgraded its welding shop as well, investing in ESAB’s new Warrior multi-process welding machine. The manufacturer was arc gouging with plasma, which delivered a good result but wasn’t as efficient for certain applications. Warrior carbon arc gouges, with electrodes up to 3⁄4-inch diameter, welds 0.03 to 5⁄64-inch flux-cored and solid wires and has a full range of stick capabilities. 

“The biggest thing was to have the ability to arc gouge,” says Wygoda of the Warrior. “Once in a while, we get really thick materials and we use more of the amperage.”  

The addition of the ESAB cutting system and multi-process welding machine is a reflection of Canpol’s customer focus. “It’s a commitment to have the latest machines, to use good tools,” Wygoda notes. “We have the newest technology, the best we can buy because if you have quality ingredients, you can produce a quality product.” MM


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