New to Plasma cutting and looking for a comprehensive set of information on how to use a plasma cutter? Well, this is the best we offer!
This article will help you to burst out the bubble of confusion and beginner’s insecurities related to plasma cutting. However, one must keep in mind that the information provided in this article is solely for educational purposes and is not intended to surpass the information given in the documentation of the plasma cutter. This article highly suggests following the additional information provided along with the documentation of the plasma cutter, first.
How to Use a Plasma Cutter?
Introduction to Plasma Cutting:
Plasma cutting is a mechanism that makes use of hot plasma for cutting different materials. A Plasma is generally referred to as a super-heated gas. Plasma is an ionized gas and is an excellent conductor of electric current. In a plasma cutting system, this highly heated gas is blown on a metal that melts the metal down to the desired shape.
A plasma cutter is a machine that facilitates the process of plasma cutting. Most commonly, a cutter makes use of 110-220 V of power to operate. A plasma cutter serves as the plasma containing equipment, which then assists to make precise cuts.
Uses of Plasma Cutter:
A plasma Cutter is highly efficient, therefore, it is widely used in numerous fields. Most commonly a plasma cutter is used in the repairing and welding industry. Other than that plasma cutters are also used in fabrications shops and construction works.
The most typical materials that are cut by cutters are namely steel, brass, copper, concrete, etc.
Different cutters offer different advantages based on the specifications they offer. Some of the general advantages of using a plasma cutter are as follows:
- Time efficiency
- Effortless and easy operation
- Suitable for household use too
Some of the negligible drawbacks of plasma cutter are:
- It is noisy
- Consumes high power
To run a plasma cutter you will be needing some of the following essential accessories. The accessories are provided along with the plasma cutter. One must have a complete understanding of what are these essentials and how to operate them.
The torch of the plasma cutter has three consumables. These consumables require replacement more frequently as compared to other accessories. The consumables of the cutter torch are as follows:
- Cutting tip
- Pointed Spacer
A cutting tip is available based on different sizes of holes.
Larger the hole, larger is its amperage value. The comparative value of hole size and its amperage is given below.
|Hole Size (mm)||Amperage (Amp)|
An electrode is connected with the head of the torch.
A pointer spacer is a removable accessory, fitted at the outer nozzle of the torch at a distance of 1mm to 2mm between the tip and workpiece.
A gas distributor is fixed between the tip and the electrode. It is usually made of an insulating material.
Ground Clamps are essential in removing excess heat from the metal. They prevent the user from getting electric shock. A ground clamp should be set first before starting up the plasma cutter.
A wire wheel act as a grinder that removes any unwanted substance from the surface of the workpiece. It is highly combustible.
No plasma cutter can work in the absence of an air compressor. A plasma cutter may or may not have a built-in air compressor. An air compressor provides desired air pressure to perform cuts.
A moisture filter, filters out the moisture from the air and supplies dry air to the plasma cutter. The presence of a moisture filter in the plasma cutter increases the life of the plasma cutter.
Selection Criteria of a Plasma Cutter:
The selection criteria of a worthy and efficient plasma cutter should be as follows.
- Nature of the project
- Allocated Budget
- Required Cut finish
- Plate cutting capacity
- The power source (110/120V or 220/240V)
- Versatility of plasma cutter
How does a Plasma Cutter work?
To understand how a cutter works, let us get through the step by step setting up and working procedure of a plasma cutter.
Ensure safety gadgets:
Before commencing into the startup procedure, wear all the necessary safety gadgets.
Set up the workplace:
Set up the workplace such that there is least risk of catching fire or gaining electric shock. Remove all kind of inflammables and keep an eye on the unattended metal accessories (Nails, bolts, discarded metal pieces).
Set up Ground Clamps:
Attach your ground clamps to the metal piece that you are going to cut. Setting up the ground clamps will help to remove any spare heat from the metal. Make sure that the ground clamps are placed on the work piece to be cut. However, if the work piece is too small then any close metal piece can also serve the purpose.
Check for loose Connections:
After the ground clamps have been set up, have a keen look on the connectivity of the connections. Any loose connection will result in the destruction of the unit itself. Besides, it may lead to serious injury.
Connect Air Compressor:
Now connect the air compressor to your cutter. To make the connection, use male and female gas hoses.
When you have made the connection, just switch on the air flow.
Align the Plasma Cutter:
Set up the plasma cutter according to your required amperage value. A high measure of current will be needed to cut thicker piece of metals.
use an amperage of 60amps to 80 amps for materials having thickness of 1/2 inches.
Induce Power Supply & start Cutting:
After that turn on the machine. You will notice that a trigger lock covers the switch. Pull the trigger out. Hold the gun exactly at an angle of 90 degrees from the metal. Now start cutting the metal.
Devise a suitable IPM:
IPM refers to Inches per Minutes.
IPM gives information about the required speed at which you should be cutting your metal. Higher the amperage value, higher will be the IPM.
Move the torch slowly towards the end of the cut without having the need of repositioning the torch again and again.
Gouging & Piercing:
Gouging requires the gouging tip to be attached to the torch of the plasma cutter.
Hold the torch at an angle of 45 degrees from the work piece. Adjust the distance between the cutting tip and the metal.
Piercing with plasma cutter is tricky one. For piercing proceed as follows:
- Hold the torch with the gouging tip.
- Keep it at 45 degrees from the metal.
- Turn the torch on.
- When the sparks reach below the metal, immediately shift the angle to 95 degrees.
- With this angle cut the hole.
When the work is over, switch off everything and pack up the accessories including the ground clamps.
Safety Precautions needed with Plasma Cutter:
It can be regarded as the possible danger in a working environment. Some of the safety hazards that should be taken into consideration when working with a plasma cutter are:
Damage to Eyes:
Sparks and flames that arise as a result of plasma cutting can be very damaging to the health of the workers. Therefore, the use of safety gadgets should be ensured at the workplace.
Discarded Metal Pieces:
Nails, bolts, and metal pieces discarded improperly or fallen on the floor of the workplace or left unattended can cause havoc. Such carelessness by the user can cause damage to hands, legs, and even to the quality of the finished product.
Presence of Flammable substances:
Sometimes, your workplace may contain some combustible substances like fuel, oil, grease, petrol etc. A minor spark, in this case, can blow out the whole workplace.
Remember! Keep all flammable or combustible substances away from the reach of the sparks and flames of the plasma cutter.
Be Careful! A freshly cut metal piece is as hot as boiling steel.
Most of the time, due to hastiness or lack of knowledge, users tend to pick up the freshly cut metal piece with their gloves on. However, one thing must be kept in mind that a freshly cut metal piece can not only burn your gloves but also your hands. Let the metal cool before you try to touch it.
When using a Plasma Cutter one must adopt some of the following safety gadgets. These protective measures not only saves oneself but also help to protect others in the working environment.
Here is an Infographic of Safety Gadgets for plasma Cutting and welding
A plasma cutter when operational, spawns sparks and flames. These sparks and flames may get into the eyes. Not only that but the spark produces so much glare that a person can be blinded by the glare for a minute or two. Protection through welding helmet also protects the ears from the aggressive noise of the machine
If you are out of a welding helmet, feel exhausted by wearing a welding helmet or you have only a minor work to do and are not considering wearing a welding helmet then you must go for safety glasses or welding glasses. Safety glasses just like a welding helmet, gives protection to your eyes against the sparks, flames and glare produced by the plasma cutter.
Plasma cutter when operated gets hot after a certain amount of time and this makes it difficult to handle the plasma cutter. Wearing protective welding gloves can sort out this problem. Welding gloves are made of insulating materials.
Another feature of the welding gloves is that it protects your hands against any possible cut from using the plasma cutter. The gloves are not only heat repellent but also thick enough to protect your hands against abrasions and piercing.
To protect your clothes and body from catching fire, use a welding jacket. It acts as an insulator and therefore plays as a barrier between you and fire.
Since fireproof jackets protect your upper abdomen area from any hazardous situation, a fire-resistant chap protects your lower abdomen region, including your legs, from:
- catching fire
- getting electric shock
- to avoid flames
If you are dealing with heavy and thicker metals, then wearing Steel Toe Boots is a perfect choice.
Such safety boots help the user in three ways
- Protections against injury (mostly due to fallen off nails and sharp metal pieces)
- Protection against burns and bruises
- Protection against electric shock
Other safety gadgets where protects an individual from such hazards, a fire extinguisher serves the best to protect the workplace and other individuals against fire.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Safety Gadgets are necessary for plasma cutting/welding
- Welding Helmet
- Safety Glasses
- Welding Gloves
- Welding Jacket
- Fire-resistant Chaps
- Protective Boots
- Fire Extinguisher
- Choose Work Location
- Plugin Unit
- Connect the Air
- Turn the Air On
- Attach the Ground Clamp
- Turn on the Machine
- Set the Current.
- Cut the Metal
- Turn Off the Machine
Remember, it’s all about smart work not hard work!
Mastering the techniques of using, is the best you can do to a plasma cutter but it is handy for both beginners as well as professionals. This article not only helps you to determine the key guidelines of how does a cutter work but it also helps you to acknowledge a complete understanding of the gadget you own.