Plasma cutting – Function, Advantages and Applications

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Whether you are producing artwork or engineering finished parts, plasma cutting offers boundless possibilities for cutting aluminium, stainless steel and more. But what precisely is behind this relatively new technology? Let’s clarify the most important questions in this brief overview with some of the most important facts about plasma cutters and plasma cutting.

How plasma cutting works:

Plasma cutting is a procedure in which electrically conductive materials are cut through by the implementation of an accelerated jet of hot plasma. Distinctive materials that can be cut with a plasma torch are steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, copper and other conductive metals.

Plasma cutting is extensively used in manufacturing, locomotive repair and refurbishment, manufacturing construction, salvage and scrapping. Due to the high speed and accuracy of the cuts at low cost, plasma cutting is extensively used from bulky industrial applications to small hobby companies where the materials are subsequently used for welding. Plasma cutting – Conductive gas with a temperature of up to 30,000°C makes plasma cutting so distinct.

The elementary process in plasma cutting and welding is to generate an electrical channel of superheated, electrically ionised gas – i.e., plasma – from the plasma cutter itself through the workpiece to be cut, thus creating a finished circuit back to the plasma cutter by means of an earth terminal. This is accomplished by a compressed gas (oxygen, air, inert gas and others depending on the material to be cut) which is propelled to the workpiece at high speed through a focused nozzle.

Plasma cutting is an effective way to cut thin and thick constituents. Hand torches can typically cut up to 38 mm thick steel sheet, stronger computer-controlled torches can cut up to 150 mm thick steel sheet. Since plasma cutters generate a very hot and very localised “cone” for cutting, they are very convenient for cutting and welding sheets in curved or angled shapes.

Advantages:

  • operation of one or more burners reliant on the series
  • cutting of all electrically conductive materials
  • cutting of high-alloy steel and aluminium constituents in medium and large thicknesses
  • exceptional performance in small and medium mild steel thicknesses
  • cutting of high-strength structural steel with lower heat input
  • high cutting speeds (up to 10 times higher than with oxyfuel)
  • any processing of high-quality blanks for medium and thick sheet metals
  • plasma cutting assures automation
  • plasma cutting under water ensures very low heat exposure and low noise level at the workplace

Applications of Plasma Cutting

Manual plasma cutters are commonly used by workshops for thin metal processing, factory upkeep, agricultural maintenance, welding repair centres, metal service centres, construction work, commercial shipbuilding, and works of art (manufacturing and welding).

Automated plasma cutters are generally much larger than manual plasma cutters and are used in aggregation with cutting tables. Mechanised plasma cutters can be unified into a punching, laser or robot cutting system. The size of a mechanised plasma cutter hinges on the table and portal used.

Plasma cutters are adaptable and easy to use machines that can be used by the DIY’er and the professional identically. There are many obtainable in today’s market, you can get a good MP machine, a small consumables kit and a shop compressor from a reputed CNC equipments company to get you on track. If you have welding knowledge under your belt and you want to take on bigger and more intricate projects a plasma cutter is a great investment.

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