Plasma Cutting Basics: Everything You Need to Know
August 4, 2020
Plasma cutters are commonly used in the metalworking industry to create precise, high-quality cuts. Though plasma cutting can seem like a complicated process, it doesn't have to be overcomplicated. With a little bit of time, you can understand the basics of this impressive machine. Here is a breakdown with everything you need to know. Read more about plasma cutting basics.
What is plasma?
Firstly, let's get into what plasma is. At some point in your science education, you might remember hearing about plasma. Maybe you remember the three states of matter. If not, here's a reminder. They are gas, liquids, and solids. The fourth and less commonly talked about is plasma. In order to use plasma to cut through solid things, you have to heat up and ionize the gas.
How it works.
In order to ionize the gas so that it is electrically charged, a series of changes and processes must happen to create plasma which cuts through your desired objects. This ionization of gas adds electrical charge which allows a current of electricity. In simple terms, this electricity is compressed and combined with high heats to make plasma which allows the cutter to make cuts. The torch is the piece on the cutter which localizes the arc for guided precision.
What is a cutter used for?
A plasma cutting machine is commonly used in the metalworking industry. You might need a plasma cutter if you work with vehicles, welding, or even manufacturing. Moreover, ensure that you're buying from a well-known company that will provide quality and accuracy for all of your jobs. It's recommended that you try a plasma cutter before you buy one. With companies like Messer that offer cutters and demos, you can expect reliability, transparency, and high-quality machinery.
The different kinds.
There are manual and mechanized plasma cutters. To determine which is the best for you, you need to consider what you'll be cutting. One factor is the thickness of metal. Furthermore, how long and often you will be using your plasma cutter also plays a significant role in the one you purchase. As these requirements grow, the cost most likely will, too. More specifically, let's explore the distinct differences between these two.
Manual systems are easier to start with as they are smaller, use less space, and don't require any special gases. They are best used with thin metal. Mechanized systems are much bigger, and they are used to cut thick metal. Typically, mechanized cutters need other tools like cutting tables, or a water table to keep the workspace clean. Something else to note is that various gases work with mechanized systems to create the plasma needed for cutting. These gases can be regular air, oxygen, hydrogen.
The gas used in the plasma cutting system also plays a key role in the quality and precision of the cuts you can achieve. The most common gases to use are regular air, oxygen, and hydrogen. The gas you use depends on the metal you are cutting. For example, oxygen is commonly used to cut carbon steel, and hydrogen cuts aluminum. Meanwhile, regular compressed air is the most common, since it is always readily available. Be sure to check with the supplier for wvhich variety will be best for you.
Get protective equipment.
Last but certainly not least, is to purchase safety supplies. You're working with a tool that can blow out metal sparks which can burn you or catch fire. What this means for you is that you will need eye protection. Furthermore, you need to wear this eye protection with an approved face shield to ensure full-face coverage. Fire-safe gloves, clothes that do not allow exposed skin, and appropriate boots or shoes are also of equal importance.
Plasma Cutting Basics: Conclusion
Plasma cutting is a great tool to utilize for metal-workers all over the world. Though it can seem complicated, the important takeaways are clear. As you have learned more about this tool, you can conclude which cutter is appropriate for you, how to maintain safety, and how to achieve an impressive level of work.
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