Metal cutting is classed into mechanical and thermal cutting. Plasma cutters fall under thermal cutting. There are plenty of functional properties of plasma cutting tools. We will go through them as well as their advantages.
How a Plasma Cutter Works?
Plasma is the little-known fourth state of matter. The typical forms of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. You can find plasma naturally in the upper parts of the sky. We do not interact with it in the lower atmosphere as it can cause us harm. The polar lights are a result of plasma. Other places you can find plasma are in high-heat fires and our bodies. However, our bodies have plasma in small amounts. Plasma makes up to 99% of the visible universe.
Plasma cutting is possible when you are cutting an electrically conductive piece. You cut them with a high-speed jet of hot plasma. The common materials that people work with plasma include steel, copper, brass, aluminum, and any other conductive material. Plasma cutting is needed when you need high-quality cuts that you cannot achieve with mechanical cutters.
You will find plasma cutting in firms like manufacturing, industrial constructions, car repair, salvage, and scrapping. Plasma cutters are standard in large CNC uses. You will also find them in many small welding firms and home workshops. Plasma jets have high heat levels of up to 30,000℃. It makes it favorable and unique.
Basics of Plasma Cutting
The basics of plasma cutting are to create a conductive electric channel of plasma. (plasma is an electrically ionized gas). The plasma jets run from the cutter to the workpiece, initiating a cut. When it gets to contact with a conductive metal, it completes the circuit. A plasma cutter is connected to an earth terminal to prevent electric shock. It also facilitates the cutting process.
The gases you can use with a plasma cutter include air, inert gases, oxygen, nitrogen, and others. The choice of gas depends on the metal you need to cut. You blow the compressed gas through the focused nozzle. When it reaches the nozzle, it creates an arc between the nozzle and the workpiece. The electrodes are found near the nozzle. It helps raise the pressure of the gas for easier cutting. The gas produces a spark once it touches the workpiece. It completes the circuit and, at that point, creates plasma. This method is called high-frequency contact.
Pilot Arc Method
The other method is the pilot arc. In this method, the spark forms inside the nozzle. It will need a low current circuit and high voltage—the spark forms a pilot arc with a small plasma. You will be cutting the arc once the pilot arc gets into contact with the workpiece.
The third method is the spring-loaded plasma torch head. You’ll need to press the torch against the piece to create a short circuit. At this point, the current starts flowing. You then release pressure to create a pilot arc. The rest of the method works as the pilot arc method.
If you need a fast and effective way to cut metallic sheets, you should consider plasma cutting. The plasma not only cuts the metal but also blows away the metal residue, leaving your worksheet clean and smooth.
A standard plasma cutter can cut through a 38mm width. The precision of the cut is inversely proportional to the width of the metal. Thus, ensure that your metal does not exceed the thickness limit. Other more vital automatic cutters can cut thicker material. The strongest plasma cutter can handle up to 150mm thickness. You can cut a slightly wider material when you reduce the speed of cutting. But you should note that the quality of the cut decreases with the increase of the material’s thickness.
You can use a plasma cutter on a curved or angled worksheet. It is possible due to the hot localized cone it produces.
Advantages of Plasma Cutter
- You can cut electrically conductive materials with ease. There are various thicknesses of metal you can handle. All you need is to check the capacity of your plasma cutter.
- You can get high-quality cuts in thicknesses less than 50mm. However, you can cut up to 150mm thickness at a lower speed.
- Using a plasma cutter for small and medium thickness is affordable. It would be best if you considered a plasma cutter over any other cutting method.
- You can cut in water to reduce noise and heat exposure.
- Get a smaller cutting kerf as compared to other thermal cutting methods.
- You can operate more than one burner depending on the series o a plasma cutter you have.
- Cut high-strength structural steel at a lower heat input. Thus, it lowers the welding budget.
- You can automate your welding processes with plasma cutting.
- Plasma cutters are portable. You can carry them around the workshop. You can also take them to do an outdoor task.
Plasma cutters have made welding easy. You can get high-quality cutting through plasma cutting. All you need is to ensure that you have a ferrous material.
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