What is a plasma cutter? While there is a manifold of ways that the metalworking industry cut metal nowadays, one of the most widely accepted and used methods is plasma cutting. It is considered by industry experts today as one of the most indispensable ways to cut metal, regardless of how thick the metal is.
The surprising thing is, even if this modern method of cutting metal is a common sight in the metalworking business, even to this day many people remain clueless about how they work or what they are.
How to Use a Plasma Cutter?
Here are some of the basics of plasma cutting, and they are fairly simple and easy to understand. If you have a plasma cutter, what it does is create an electrical superheated channel of gas. Science calls this channel of heated gas as plasma and it is the secret behind the seamless cutting power of this method over metals.
Of course, there’s no magic in there but there are some other processes involved as well. Right after the plasma gas is created, it will then be pushed through the cutter’s nozzle. Normally water or compressed gas or air is utilized for this purpose. Afterward, the pilot light, which is near the nozzle, will electrically charge the said plasma gas. It will get heated up until it reaches a temperature so hot that it can penetrate the metal surface and cut through it.
The same compressed air, gas, or water will blow the molten metal away to a much safer distance from the cutting area. By this measure, the area will be left clean soon after the plasma did cut through it. Learning how to use a plasma cutter does not involve the use of complicated, hard to follow processes.
Getting yourself acquainted with everything first should be your first step, but it would be highly recommended to have someone experienced by your side. In any case that you something came up, there is someone right beside you whom you know can instruct you on what to do or how to react if things go awry or not as expected. He can also educate you further about the process, and as well as the implications of steps involved in the plasma cutting process. Learning how to use a plasma cutter can be a bit of an exciting journey, so to speak.
Why Plasma Cutting is a Cut Above the Rest?
Compared to the laser method of cutting, plasma cutting technique predates it and because of that, it has been used in the industry for quite some time. However, we may not always qualify it as the best solution for each of our metal cutting concerns. These two metal cutting techniques are distinct from each and the differences they have will help you determine which one will work best for your business or whatnot.
Benefits of Plasma Cutting Technology Over Laser Cutter
Price and simplicity of the method. By far, these are two of the major benefits of plasma cutting. Between these two options, plasma cutting is much cheaper upfront. If your business organization is just a start-up team or it is a cash-strapped business, plasma cutting is the ideal method of choice you should consider using because it is more affordable and will thus help you save money.
Besides being a cost-effective metal cutting method, plasma cutting is also fairly simple to use. By being simple, we are referring to the fact that they have clearly defined roles. Simply put, they excel beyond your expectations when you’re project involves working only in metals.
Other than metals, you will just find yourself challenged when trying to obtain the exceptional cutting quality you are looking for. We may see it as kind of its limiting factor, but it is working to its advantage because it helps it excel in that field.
Plasma cutting is the method of choice in the metalworking industry when it involves cutting through thick and tougher metals that are around 80mm. As for the laser cutters, they seem to have a hard time cutting through metal that is around 25mm level of thickness.
But then again, plasma cutting has got its share of drawbacks, too. One they can’t cut through anything other than metal. In addition to that, they are hardly able to create finer details when cutting which laser cutters can.
Should You Consider Using Plasma Cutters?
Your bottom line decision when trying to choose between plasma cutting and laser cutting will depend on your project requirements. This point of consideration will be followed by your budget.
Due to these reasons, plasma cutters are qualified ubiquitous pieces of equipment used in the construction industry, where the use of large quantities of non-detailed, thick metals are of paramount importance. They may greatly excel when it comes to cutting thick metals, it is also the method of choice to have when working on projects where fine detailing is not necessary.
Besides, if your metal cutting project involves finer details on the final output and you need to have it on mass production at a quicker pace of time, then opting for a laser cutter would make more sense. Laser metals will cut through a manifold of materials, including wood, leather, and even glass. Aside from that, laser cutters can also create an indelible mark on any materials and engrave as well.
In the case of plasma cutting, they are best to use when dealing with thick sheets of metal. They are easy on the budget and with the integration of CAM/CAD available, they pave the way for business organizations to create metal products of all sizes and shapes.
Plasma Cutting Bag of Words
If you are taking into account the use of plasma cutting for your application, it will help when you understand these bag of words in the process terminology such as standoff cutting, gouging, drag shield cutting, and tip cutting.
Drag Tip Cutting
This is the method of choice to use when dealing with a light-gauge metal that is at least ¼ inches. It is likely to produce the fastest cutting speeds with the narrowest kerf width. With this method, the tip of the cutter can get in contact with the work.
However, remaining constant here are the distances the separates the plasma arc and the work. With that, the quality of the cut will remain consistent. With the help of a non conductive material, you’d be able to use a template you can trace a pattern with.
Standoff cutting will keep the tip away from the work piece and will necessitate you see to it that this distance will remain constant. Ideally, this applies to thicker metals that are at current levels of 60 amps and above.
When you see to it that tip is at a distance from the molten metals, it will keep the build-up of slag from occurring and will also improve consumable life. Make use of the standoff cutting markers to keep the distance constant.
Drag Shield Cutting
Drag shield cutting paves way for the torch have some break during a cutting process. It makes use of a special shield to keep slag from building up and spatter on the tip. If you are aiming for a pattern or straight cut lines, we recommend the use of non conductive templates instead.
The simplest way you can remove metal is by angling the torch, at least make it 35 to 45 degrees and utilizing a gouging tip for this purpose. One typical scenario where you will find this extremely helpful is when you need to take away an existing weld.
Gouging tips will pave the way for plasma to widen and diffuse depending on how big or small the weld is, as well as how deep or far below the surface you want to remove the metal.
So what is a plasma cutter? This is the method of choice when you need to work in demanding environments. And since they don’t have a lot of moving parts, you may just give them a little maintenance.
But in terms of supplying it with dry, clean air and seeing to that the consumables are in good, tip-top shape, you can expect it to deliver its optimum performance each time you put it on.