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All You Need to Know About Plasma cutter

Author: Dean Heathershaw
by Dean Heathershaw
Posted: Mar 15, 2020
plasma cutting

How do you cut and manipulate metals needed to build an airplane wing? The answer is the plasma cutter.

Plasma cutting is a relatively new technology.

Developed in the 20th century, it is one of the most amazing and powerful tools we have. It works using a fundamental principle of physics - which is harnessing the fourth state of matter. It is used to cut electrically conductive materials by using an accelerated jet of hot plasma—that’s why it is an effective way to cut thick sheet metal. Plasma cutting has opened unlimited possibilities for cutting aluminum, stainless steel, and more.All About Plasma cutter:In our article, we have given a brief overview of the essential facts about this cutter.What is plasma?The modern industry needs metals to build tools and transportations like cranes, cars, skyscrapers, robots, bridges, and so on. And these are made from precisely cut metal components. Metals are strong and durable.

But these strength becomes a problem when you want to manipulate and form them into specialized pieces.

The conception is straightforward. A plasma cutter can pass through metals with limited or no resistance because of its unique properties. But what is plasma?

There are four states of matter around us. The common forms are solids, liquids, or gases—for example, ice, water, and gas. If you heat ice, it will become liquid water. Provide more heat, and you will get vapor. But what will happen if you heat gas even more? This brings us to the fourth state, which is plasma.

If you expose a gas to extremely high temperatures, you will get plasma. Usually, atoms are made up of protons and neutrons within the nucleus. A cloud of electrons surrounds them. In plasma, the electrons get separated from the nucleus, and the electrons begin to move around quickly. When these fast-moving electrons collide with other electrons and ions, they release vast amounts of energy. This energy gives plasma its unique characteristics and incredible cutting power.How Plasma Cutters WorkPlasma cutters come in different shapes and sizes. For example, large plasma cutters with robotic arms are used for precise incisions. On the other hand, there are compact and handheld units used in handyman's shop. But all plasma cutters are built on the same principle

Pressurized gas, like nitrogen, argon, or oxygen, is sent through a small channel. There is a negatively charged electrode in the center of this channel.

When power is applied to the negative electrode, and we touch the tip of the nozzle to metal, this connection creates a full circuit.

And a spark is created between the electrode and the element. As the gas passes through the channel, the spark heats the gas until it reaches plasma.

This creates a stream of directed plasma, approximately 30,000 F and moving at 20,000 feet per second, that reduces metal to molten slag.

The plasma conducts electrical current itself. As long as you supply power to the electrode, this cycle of creating arc is continuous. As a result, the plasma stays in contact with the metal that is being cut.Does plasma cutting VS Oxyfuel cuttingPlasma cutters can be used on any conductive metal. For example, mild steel, aluminum, and stainless are easily cut with this machine. It is faster on mild steel than alloys.

On the other hand, oxyfuel cuts by burning or oxidizing the metal. That's why it can only cut steel and other ferrous metals, which can support the oxidizing process.

Metals like aluminum and stainless steel can not be cut with conventional oxyfuel cutting.

On the other hand, Plasma cutting does not rely on oxidation and can cut aluminum, stainless steel, and other conductive materials.

Compressed airs are mostly used as a plasma gas because it is readily available. Plasma does not require any fuel gas or compressed oxygen for its operation. It is easier for beginners and can be operated on thinner materials. It is much faster than oxyfuel cutting as well.

But, oxyfuel is still preferred for substantial sections of steels, which are one inch or greater, and high capacity power supplies are required for plasma cutting.Uses of a plasma cutterPlasma cutting is perfect for cutting steel and non-ferrous material, which are less than 1 inch thick.What are the limitations of plasma cutting?Plasma cutting machines are usually more expensive than oxyacetylene. Oxyacetylene does not require access to electrical power or compressed air, which makes it a more convenient method for some users. Oxyfuel can cut thicker sections ehich is greater than one inch of steel more quickly than plasma.Advantages of plasma cutter

  • can cut all electrically conductive materials
  • can cut high-alloy steel and aluminum materials which are medium to large in thickness
  • gives excellent performance while cutting small and medium mild steel thickness
  • can cut high-strength structural steel with lower heat input
  • cutting speed is high
  • guaranteed automation
  • creates little heat exposure and low noise level underwater
  • Disadvantages of a plasma cutter
  • there is a restriction of using up to 160 mm for dry cutting and 120 mm for underwater cutting
  • high power consumption
  • lasers offer even higher cutting quality
  • expensive than oxyacetylene cutting systems
  • dry cutting creates noise
  • Final ThoughtsPlasma cutters are now used widely in custom auto shops as well as by big manufacturers. Construction companies use them in large-scale projects to cut and fabricate massive beams or metal-sheet goods.

    Previously, plasma cutters were expensive and were used only for huge metal cutting jobs. But now, as the cost and size have reduced, they are can be used in personal projects.

    Artists and other metal workers can use handheld cutters to create their unique works of art, which was impossible with conventional tools before.

    About the Author

    Hey, I am Dean Heathershaw. I am glad to welcome you to my profile. I am a freelance writer by profession.

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    Author: Dean Heathershaw

    Dean Heathershaw

    Member since: Mar 12, 2020
    Published articles: 1

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