My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

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shiner2001
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My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby shiner2001 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:42 pm

The following is a reprint of a post I made on both CNCzone.com and plasmaspider.com on 19 May 2014, but thought would be equally as valuable here. Hopefully it will serve as an educational tool for at least one person out there and save them from making the same mistake I did upon entering the world of CNC plasma fabrication.

13.6 miles. That’s how far I made it down the road after picking up my brand new 4x2 Burntables CNC table. I stopped to check my trailer to make sure my cargo was properly secured and was greeted by a handful of washers, nuts, bolts and bearings laying on my trailer. I promptly snapped the following picture and emailed it to Matt Kool, the salesman I dealt with at BurnTables. His reply: “Yes, a little tighter would have been preferred.”

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It’s also worth noting that I removed (by hand) other hand-tight bolts and bearings at this point so as not to lose them on the rest of the way home. Makes me wonder how such a table was tested at the factory prior to shipment/pick-up… This should have been my first red flag about the quality issues I was soon to experience with BurnTables, but those were actually raised before my purchase as several other victims of BurnTables’ sales pitch had advised me to stay far far away from this product. Failing to heed their advice, I did indeed end up taking the leap and making this purchase, which I have regretted literally since day one.

It took a couple of weeks before I was able to complete the installation of the table in my shop and actually begin trying to use it. Immediately, I was greeted with the following examples of the table’s work:

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I was assured, however, that the problems I was experiencing were due to the fact that I was using a Hypertherm PowerMax 45 plasma cutter and their table’s Torch Height Control had a very small window of compatibility with this particular plasma cutter, but to keep adjusting their THC knob and eventually I would find the “sweet spot.” I finally was indeed able to eventually make what I thought were acceptable cuts. As it turns out, I would have been happy with ANY completed cut, regardless of quality. Starve a man long enough and he’ll eat anything, right? This small time frame of “success” was short lived, however, as simply changing the consumables of my machine torch threw the machine so far out of whack that I once again could not even come close to completing a cut, often not even moving the torch once the initial pierce was made. More knob turning. More knob turning. Calls to “tech support.” Instructions to keep turning the knob. Literally hours of knob turning. It was at this point I realized I was fighting an uphill battle. If this was standard operating procedure for recalibrating the machine after a simple consumables change, I was dealing with an unacceptable piece of equipment that at its best, wasn’t good enough. This is when I first asked for a refund for the table, a request which was ignored, and instead was offered the chance to send in my computer, controller, and plasma cutter for inspection and testing. Instead I packed it all up and drove it back to BurnTables myself. After a few hours onsite with Kyle Riggens (owner) and CJ Ortiz (tech support), they swapped not only my control box (because of an unknown internal issue), but also my Hypertherm unit for brand new ones. Before my experience with BurnTables, my Hypertherm was a perfectly functioning cutting unit. After they made their requisite internal modification to my torch, however, it threw an internal breaker multiple times every time I turned it on. As soon as Kyle was made aware of this, he immediately swapped my unit for a new one. (This one also didn’t work, so they then swapped that one for another new one). So, with minimal actual usage on the table and less than two months of ownership, I’ve already made a six hour roundtrip to Hutto and come home with a new BurnTables controller and a new Hypertherm unit, which worked perfectly prior to interfacing with their equipment and prior to their internal modification of the plasma cutter, which they assured me was a modification made based on Hypertherm’s own publication. However, according to an engineer at Hypertherm, “From Hypertherm’s perspective it is a modification that we would not authorize….as it would cause us to lose our CSA certification.”

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Also worth noting from my little trip to BurnTables was that immediately upon setting up my equipment to test, their “tech support,” CJ, broke the limit switch on the Z axis of their test machine by running it down into the table. It didn’t take long before he also shattered one of their cheaply made plastic torch mounts (Below is a picture, also of their bungee cord spring for material sensing). Not very inspiring actions by the supposed expert on this table.

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Now let’s talk about physics. Acceleration, force, mass, etc. The only corners that get cut well when it comes to BurnTables are the ones that save them a dime by using drastically underpowered stepper motors to power their massive gantry sluggishly around the table and decade-plus old technology for Torch Height Control. Much like any “car guy” can tell you about 1/4 mile E.T.s and 0-60 numbers, acceleration and force numbers are the parameters by which CNC cutting machines’ movements are measured. An accepted industry standard minimum acceleration rate for a table of this level is 15 inches/sec/sec. Satisfactory acceleration would fall closer to 20 i/s/s, desirable would be 35 i/s/s. Of course, these numbers are end user-adjustable in Mach 3. From the factory, BurnTables sets their tables’ acceleration at 4 inches/sec/sec. Yes, four. What this means is that it is literally impossible for their table to accelerate and decelerate at rates fast enough to maintain acceptable quality levels on any cut path that isn’t straight. This problem is compounded by the fact that a BurnTables gantry is extremely heavy (110 pounds, I weighed it), as is evident by the bent X axis shaft on their in-house vertical table, as shown in the picture below. According to CJ, this was just an “illusion” and the shaft wasn’t really bent. And according to Kyle, he’d never even noticed it before. Nice quality control work.

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Also obvious on both their vertical table’s gantry as well as my standard table’s gantry was that they had designed them in such a way that one of the belts actually ran in constant contact with one of the support struts on the gantry. How this makes it even out of the design phase of their table, much less into production, is beyond me. (Quite indicative of the overall quality of their product and company as a whole, however).

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The reason for the X axis shaft even exists in the first place (identical gantry on their vertical and horizontal tables) is because the entire, heavy gantry is powered by a single 400 oz/inch stepper motor (as opposed to a pair, one on each side). When I inquired with Kyle as to these extremely anemic acceleration numbers and whether or not the motors on this table could even handle 15 inches/sec/sec, I was informed, “It is your table, your can do what every you want to it. If you are wanting tech help from BurnTables, you will need to keep the table at the factory settings.”

Upon closer inspection by an engineer with 40+ years of design and manufacturing experience, it was discovered just how detrimental this combination of a single, underpowered motor, a heavy gantry, and poor acceleration and control is to cut quality, even at factory settings. Every single cut (straight lines, mind you) along the X axis of this machine exhibits a jagged edge. Cuts along the Y axis, however, are much smoother. This is clear, undeniable evidence that the above combination of factors prove to produce unacceptable results when there is movement along the X axis, even in a straight line. This means that not only are those straight lines affected, but every single curve (since a curve is combination of X and Y axis movement) suffers from reduced cut quality. The picture below is of a simple square (actually the “test” shape included with the computer from BurnTables). Notice how perpendicular sides exhibit drastically different cut quality. The Y axis only has to move the torch holder, whereas the X must move the entire gantry, which BurnTables’ factory motors and settings simply can not do. Again, this is cut at the factory settings, as packaged from BurnTables (those same factory settings that I apparently will lose access to the lifetime of tech support that supposedly comes with the table if I make changes to). To me, this is an indictment of the overall poor quality of this table and proof that it simply can not perform at an acceptable level.

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It was at this point that I made a decision, I was either going to strip this table of all of its hardware, motors, THC and controllers and rebuild it myself with aftermarket parts that would at least get me closer to having a decent THC and moving that huge gantry around, or I was going to return this table altogether and build my own from scratch. The latter was my first choice, the former was what I expected to happen. Informing BurnTables of these two options prompted a hasty phone call with instructions to bring the table back to them for a refund. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want the world (including your other dissatisfied customers, whom I’ve heard from many) to see pictures of someone throwing your stuff in the trash two months after they bought it, only to replace it all with other components that are readily available and vastly improve the overall performance of the table. So, with a signed letter of intent stating the conditions of the return, I packaged it all up and made what I really really hope to be my final trip to BurnTables’s facility in Hutto, TX.

Up to this point, my main objections with this whole situation had been 95% with the product itself. However when presented with a non-disclosure agreement to sign as a condition of the return, one that would contractually bar me from discussing ANY part of my dealings with BurnTables with ANYone, EVER, well that’s when I realized that the people behind the product were truly the ones at fault. NDA’s aren’t brought into simple refunds unless one party to the transaction has something they would like to hide. (Seriously, how often does someone innocent plead the 5th Amendment)? In this case, BurnTables expressed to me that they neither wanted me making public my retrofitting of their table or the fact that they were refunding my money. (By “public,” they meant forums just like this one, where people go to get valuable information on all kinds of topics, including purchase decisions and product reviews). In fact, their desire to sweep this whole thing under the rug and hold their hand over my mouth in perpetuity was plainly expressed when I was told, “We don’t want anyone to know about what’s happening is really what it comes down to. I don’t want people to know we took back a table.” In fact, I was instructed on how to answer when asked about my experience, “If someone says, ‘You had a BurnTable,’ ‘I did, it didn’t work out for me, I sold it’.” I don’t know about where you come from, but where I come from, that’s just downright asking me to lie about my experience. In actuality, I had previously considered putting my BurnTable up for sale. That was a fleeting thought, however, as I could not in good conscious pass this product along to someone else under the guise of it being worth what they would have to pay me for it to make it worthwhile for me to sell it for anything more than scrap. I couldn’t be guilty of selling a terrible product, even if I’m not the one that made it. In fact, I decided long ago that if I could ever dissuade another consumer from making the same decision I made, I would absolutely share with them my experiences and opinions of this product and this company. It is ultimately up to each individual to make their own consumer decisions, but it is also my right, and some would say obligation, to share both the facts of this situation and my opinions that have been formed because of them. My intention is not to hurt them as a company, but simply to inform, educate and advise any future potential customers of the specifics of my individual experience so that they can in turn make their own decisions. As I stated while returning my table, all I would ever share with anyone was the truth, up to and including the fact that, even though it was traveled over a very bumpy road and with much, much prodding from me, the service I received from them was actually very good. While they don’t accept credit cards for table purchases, they actually allowed me to use one since that was the only way I could purchase one at the time. Within two months of my purchase they replaced their faulty controller as well as my Hypertherm Powermax 45 which began to fail once paired with their table. And ultimately, they refunded my money and took back their product when it became apparent that, as manufactured, it could never meet my standards. (Not because of unreasonable standards, mind you, but because of physics). At every step of the way I ultimately got what I wanted, except the part where I got a good table.

Concerning my modified and supposedly “repaired” plasma cutter, I ultimately did receive it back from an independent repair facility in Waco, TX, who is not listed as a Hypertherm authorized facility on their own website. This was after two missed dates by which Burntables told me I would have it back while it was “at Hypertherm.” Of course, I immediately opened the case to my torch just to find that the factory wiring had not actually been replaced and that the resistor and modification initially made by Burntables was in fact still in place. Fortunately for me, the manufacturer of the controller and hardware for the table which I am now fabricating myself offered to replace the plug which had been cut out by Burntables. I also learned that hooking up my Hypertherm with Burntables’ modification to my new equipment would have immediately fried the new PWM unit. Whether or not the folks at Burntables were aware of the damage their modification would make to my new equipment or not, I do not know, but it’s obvious that them telling me my Hypertherm would indeed be returned to factory specs was simply not true. This did not surprise me and was the reason I checked it myself before ever even plugging it back in.

So, that’s my own personal experience with Burntables. It is my recommendation to anyone looking to purchase a table from any manufacturer, or to fabricate their own, to research the actual physics behind what it takes to make even an acceptable CNC cutting unit. Unfortunately for me, it was details such as these that I learned after purchasing a sub-par unit from a manufacturer who would rather attempt to hide their shortcomings from the public than to fix them when they are made apparent by a dissatisfied customer. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to press this issue far enough to receive a refund from Burntables and I am grateful to have been freed from this drastically underperforming table. Hopefully if there are any other dissatisfied customers out there they can come to an equally agreeable resolution, as there are definitely better, and more affordable, options available.
Derek
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby Stuka » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:32 pm

I moved this from General FSJ to Tools and Garages.

And that was a pretty bad experience. Glad you got a refund eventually.


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shiner2001
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby shiner2001 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:58 pm

Gotcha. I started it in general just to get some eyes on it, sorry bout that.

And I'm definitely the lucky one since I got a refund, so many of their other customers are simply stuck with their tremendously inferior table.
Derek
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby Tad » Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:37 am

Dam Derek, that's pretty messed up.

My LightningCNC 5x5 table arrived last Thursday.
Have not put it together yet, hope to get started this weekend.
I'm a long ways out with a panel upgrade and then inspections from both the city and power company being on a 4 week waiting list.
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby GWag89 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:00 pm

thanks for the heads up. your post was well written and informative without bashing burntables. Capitalism is wonderful but has the potential to breed inferior products as long as the consumer is uneducated enough to purchase without complaint. you are doing the right thing by sharing your experience.

I am by no means an expert at anything except kicking doors and shooting terrorist in the face. but I know for a fact that i would never sell an inferior product to hard working Americans. Its a simple test of morals that was obviously FAILED by burntables. people can church it up and make it seem like its less than it is but in the end it boils down to the fact that the owner/operators of that company let sub standard work leave the doors of their shop. this is a common practice in today's market and deserves reprimand by loss of sales

I do a decent amount of welding and plasma work out of my garage and in the future i would like to purchase a CNC table. now i know to stay away from Burntables, thanks again for the good write up on a sub standard product. you potentially saved me a large sum of money
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shiner2001
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby shiner2001 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:02 pm

GWag89 wrote:thanks for the heads up. your post was well written and informative without bashing burntables. Capitalism is wonderful but has the potential to breed inferior products as long as the consumer is uneducated enough to purchase without complaint. you are doing the right thing by sharing your experience.

I am by no means an expert at anything except kicking doors and shooting terrorist in the face. but I know for a fact that i would never sell an inferior product to hard working Americans. Its a simple test of morals that was obviously FAILED by burntables. people can church it up and make it seem like its less than it is but in the end it boils down to the fact that the owner/operators of that company let sub standard work leave the doors of their shop. this is a common practice in today's market and deserves reprimand by loss of sales

I do a decent amount of welding and plasma work out of my garage and in the future i would like to purchase a CNC table. now i know to stay away from Burntables, thanks again for the good write up on a sub standard product. you potentially saved me a large sum of money


Thanks for the kind words, and double thanks for the door kicking and terrorist shooting.
Derek
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby Tad » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:25 am

The POR thread is awesome Derek.
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby shiner2001 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:47 am

Tad wrote:The POR thread is awesome Derek.


That one definitely got some traffic...so mission accomplished. I've heard from several people that it has influenced their decision to buy, so hopefully it's saving some people from the same crap I had to deal with.
Derek
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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby cbf2013 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:28 pm

Well I know how you feel. I shelled out the money for one of these as well so fAR ive had problEMS with the pc (kept frying on me) working on the 3rd one and now warranty is out so bought a spare on Amazon and cloned it just in case then ive had problems with controll box had to send it in then torch height control has never work from the start( yes they say a sweet spot but ive yet to find it) finally just disabled it and installed a digital. My machine had very poor cut quality too finally got it to do some what decent but with share ware programs I guess you get what you didn't pay for. Drive gear and belts lack in user and design quality never could adjust per specs or by directions over thephonefrom tech suport. After several changes to burn tables design ive finally gotten my table to quite shredding or throwing the drive belts and ive also added a remote pendant to be able to move gantry with out being at keyboard and also added an emergency stop to pendant with a magnetic break away torch mount to keep from paying for yet another substandard one that came with it that after one crash has to be replaced at 45 dollars. Supposedly this should be a unit a novice can use right out of the box. Ive been running cnc plasma cutters for nearly 18 years and doing engineering for chemical plants, electrical power plants steel mills, oil and gas refineries, And other fields for the last 25 years and have never had as much problems with a piece of equipment as i have from this one.

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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby cbf2013 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:30 pm

Just wish I had found your post when I was doing my research to buy a cnc plasma cutter

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Re: My terrible experience with Burntables and my resolution

Postby jasspaul » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:52 pm

I got stuck at same point...


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