Featured Image Caption: Plasma Cutting Guide
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The cost of purchasing different metalwork equipment has gone down, thanks to advanced technology. In the past, industrial tools and devices were very expensive because their designs were very big. This meant that the cost and the material used to manufacture these devices were also high.
Today, equipment that used to weigh over a ton now weighs less than 50 pounds. This has lowered the cost of producing this equipment, which trickles down to buying them. Since they were very heavy, these individual equipment were stationery. Now you can carry them around, and they do even a better job than before. A perfect example is in the metalwork industry, where we find handy equipment called a plasma cutter. In this guide, we will talk about plasma cutters as the various ways they are used in the metalwork industry.
What’s a Plasma Cutter?
Before we mention how plasma works and its benefits, let’s first define plasma. Many people think that matter is only available in three states at one time. Plasma is another state of matter formed when gas or steam is superheated to produce charged ions. When this happens, plasma is constricted and forced to flow through an orifice. This forms a plasma torch, which melts the metal while cutting. Once it melts the workpiece, a high-velocity stream of ionized gas mechanically blows the molten metal away. This reaction severs the material. Plasma is used to cut metals that can conduct electricity. Such metals include aluminum and mild and stainless steel.
The Difference Between Plasma Cutting and Oxy-fuel Cutting
Only conductive metals are cut using plasma cutters. If you are dealing with metals such as stainless steel, mild steel, or any other metal that can conduct electricity, then plasma cutting is the best method. In mild steel, the user will have an easy time cutting thick workpieces compared to alloys.
In oxy-fuel severed metal is burnt or oxidized in the metal cutting process. What prevents metals such as stainless steel or aluminum from being cut by oxy-fuel is that they form an oxide that prevents further oxidation during cutting. This makes it hard to use oxy-fuel to cut such metals. On the other hand, plasma cutting doesn’t rely on oxidization to cut conductive metals, making it the better option for oxy-fuel.
Compressed air is the most commonly used gas nowadays in plasma cutting. However, there are many types of gases that can be used in plasma cutting. Unlike oxy-fuel, fuel gas and compressed oxygen are not needed in the cutting process.
Anyone can easily learn to run a plasma cutting machine, whether he has little or no metal cutting experience. Plasma cutting works better when cutting thinner metal material. On the other hand, Oxy-fuel is the best option when dealing with thick metals of about 1 inch and above because it cuts much faster than plasma cutters.
Which types of metals work best with plasma cutters?
Cutting non-ferrous material or steel that is less than 1 inch thick requires a plasma cutting device. The cutting speed needs to be controlled to maintain the oxidizing process while cutting metal using an oxy-fuel metal cutting technique. You won’t need to control the cutting speed while using a plasma cutting device because plasma cutters don’t need oxidization. While cutting expanded metal using oxy-fuel is nearly impossible, plasma cutting works very well here. Cutting conductive metal is very slow when you decide to use mechanical tools. With a plasma cutter, cutting sheets of metals is quite fast, especially when cutting nonlinear shapes.
Cons of Plasma Cutting Systems
Using plasma cutting is not quite convenient since it requires a high voltage electricity supply and compressed air. This makes this method of cutting metal a bit expensive compared to oxy-acetylene, which doesn’t need compressed air or electricity to run. Another setback of using a plasma cutting machine is that it doesn’t cut steel more than 1 inch very well. If you want to cut steel metal of that thickness, then the best option is using an oxy-fuel cutter.
What to Consider When Buying a Plasma Cutter
Before opting to buy a plasma cutting machine, it is a good idea to consider these factors as they will help you make the right choice.
The Metal’s Thickness
Before settling on which metal cutting device you want to buy, it is wise to know the thickness of metals you will deal with most of the time. The amperage and the cutting ability will help you decide which plasma cutter will work well in your workshop. Plasma cutters with lower amperage are most effective when you want to deal with metals of ¼” thick. Cutting metals of ½” chick requires a high amperage plasma cutting device. You will not get the best outcome if you use a lower amperage plasma cutter to cut thick metal sheets. It is also wise to use a plasma cutter with the correct flow sensors.
Weigh Between Consumable Life and Consumable Cost
Consumables in plasma cutting refer to items that wear out and need replacing after some time. Suppose you want to buy an effective plasma cutter that will give you value for your money, for one with fewer consumables. You will save a lot of money when you decide to buy a plasma cutting device that doesn’t need replacements most of the time.
Portable plasma cutting machines have made it convenient for users to carry them around to various workplaces. Most manufacturers will give you a chance to test the plasma cutter first before buying. This will help you know whether you have made the right choice. We hope that this guide was helpful to you.
By Naman Modi
who is a Professional Blogger, SEO Expert & Guest blogger at Proteus Industries Inc. He is an Award-Winning Freelancer & Web Entrepreneur helping new entrepreneur’s launches their first successful online business.
Member since April, 2019
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