Tags: ESAB, Hypertherm, Industry Experts, Plasma, Plasma Cutting, welding, Weldsafe
Here at Weldsafe we have over 100 years of collective experience in the welding industry and are closely approaching our 40th anniversary. As such, we have seen a lot of industry trends come and go over the years, one of which is plasma cutting: the ideal choice for your next fabrication project.
Plasma cutting is a process that we have seen grow from humble beginnings in the 1960s, to its status now as a widespread cutting technique favoured by numerous industries from fabrication shops to automotive repair and restoration, to industrial construction, to salvage and scrapping operations.
In this blog, we’ll delve into what plasma cutting is and how it works as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this technique.
What is plasma cutting and how does it work?
Plasma is an electrically conductive ionised gas-like substance. It has long been used as a very efficient matter in the correct environment for cutting steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, copper and many other conductive metals.
After the application of computer numerical control (CNC) technology in the 1980s and recent manufacturing improvements, plasma cutters not only offer a benefit over traditional cutting due to the lack of metal chips produced, generating a cleaner edge, but now offer laser-like precision and greater flexibility to cut diverse shapes in a variety of materials.
The basic process in plasma cutting is to create an electrical channel of superheated, electrically ionised gas – i.e., plasma – from the plasma cutter itself through to the workpiece to be cut. The combination of high-voltage electrodes in the cutter and shielding gases, move the induced plasma at a high speed down through a focused nozzle. The ionised, superheated, and concentrated beam of plasma then melts and blasts any metal it touches, resulting in a clean cut every time.
- Plasma cutters offer a low cost and high-speed technique, so it’s really no surprise it’s a method favoured by so many industries. It takes around a quarter of the time that most similar techniques take to make a clean break in a piece of workable metal.
- Plasma cutters have the added advantage of being highly portable. The cutter itself can be miniaturised to the point of being a handheld device and so can be easily transported.
- Plasma equipment is considered to be both better for value for money as well as energy efficient, offering a 1:2 ratio per cut in comparison to oxygen-based cutting.
- Plasma cutting relies on inert gasses, making it far safer than oxygen-based cutting as this type of cutting has the potential to explode.
- Plasma torches can be used to create a very precise cut, allowing users from both large-scale industrial applications to small hobbyist shops, to easily make everything from oddly shaped cuts to curved cuts.
- Most plasma cutters aren’t as useful for thicker or denser materials. For materials with a greater depth, you will have to utilise more traditional methods.
- Whilst heat exposure is reduced, plasma cutting is unavoidably noisy and can generate excess fumes so make sure that your workshop is fully ventilated.
- Plasma cutting does have a smaller cutting kerf in comparison to methods such as flame cutting. However, laser cutting comes out on top with both a smaller kerf and a reduced heat affected zone (HAZ) resulting in a higher quality finish, especially with thinner materials.
- Plasma torches are known for creating bright flashes and there’s the risk of sparks flying whilst cutting. As such, a high degree of caution must be exercised by all employees near or using the plasma cutter. Make sure the work area is clean and free of flammable liquids and gases, and make sure you have the appropriate personal protective equipment from face shields to eye protection to leather gloves, aprons and jackets. Here at Weldsafe, we supply all of the necessary safety equipment you need to keep you protected and safe, check it out here.
Ready to get started?
No matter your budget, we have a plasma cutter to suit you. For those interested in a higher price point and looking to invest in top-quality machinery, we offer the premium Hypertherm range. All of the products in the Powermax collection deliver superior cut capabilities, making short work of even the toughest cutting jobs. For all your plasma consumable needs, including genuine Hypertherm parts pricing, contact us directly today.
If you’re in the market for a more budget-friendly option, we highly recommend the portable ESAB Handy Plasmas.
Our recommendations are based on years of knowledge and experience which ensures that our customers get the right product for their budget and requirements, whilst we provide an unmatched level of service and aftercare. Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff today to discuss what we can do for you.