Many people are moving from other metal cutting methods into plasma cutting. But what is causing the mass exodus to this new technology? There are several reasons why people would migrate. It does not mean the other methods are bad, but people select the easiest and the most effective methods for their industries. Let’s go through the process of plasma cutting and the advantages. You will see why people are migrating despite the few disadvantages associated with the process.
What is Plasma
For a long time, you have heard of the three states of matter- solid, liquid, and gas. They are the most common states of matter that you can find anywhere at any time. But there is a fourth state that is rarely mentioned- the plasma.
It might jog your mind as to what this plasma is. I will give a simple explanation. You can only find plasma naturally existing in the upper atmosphere. Since you can not take your operations there, you can use tech to convert the matter into plasma.
99% of the visible universe consists of plasma. However, it lacks our environment to give a chance for life to thrive- a gift from mother nature.
In brief, plasma is an ionized gas-like matter that is electrically conductive. Thus, it is a mass of atoms that lack some electrons. Also, some electrons float around freely. It makes the matter highly penetrative. If you focus the matter on a surface, it cuts through it. That is why it is a successful technology in the welding industry.
The Process of Plasma Cutting
Plasma cutting is classified under thermal cutting methods. It is because you need to heat a gas to create plasma for your welding firm. The plasma melts down the metal at the point you have focused the plasma.
The plasma machine compresses a gas then passes it through an electrode. The electrode ionizes the gas and thus, creating more pressure. The machine waits until the pressure has built up before it pushes a stream of plasma through the cutting head.
The Cutting head has a tip that is constricted to focus the plasma at one point. It melts away the metal. Then the high speed of the plasma stream blows away the molten metal. The work table is metallic and connects the workpiece to the ground. Thus, you are not at risk of electric shock from the cutting system.
The Advantages of plasma Cutting
- You can cut all types of conductive materials. People use other methods, such as the flame method; But it limits you to ferrous metals only.
- You can cut metals of up to 150mm thickness.
- You will get excellent results for metals with a thickness of below 50mm.
- It is cheaper to cut medium thickness metals with plasma compared to other methods.
- You can never find a better way to cut medium thickness aluminum and stainless steel.
- The plasma cutter has a higher cutting speed than oxyfuels and other technologies. The speed reduces the chances of metal abrasion.
- You can miniaturize the cutter into a handheld device. Thus, you can work with it on different worksites.
- You can aid the plasma beam manually or with a computer to cut perfect curves and odd shapes. You can also intersect cuts using precise beams.
- You can use plasma cutting on a wide range of materials. This is opposed to other types of cutting, where they focus on only a few materials with almost similar qualities.
- You use inert gases on a plasma cutter. Thus, it is safe to use since the dases do not react with the electrode throughout the process.
- The plasma cutter is low maintenance. Thus, the whole system gives you value for your money. You will spend years and years without needing to replace the plasma torches.
- It would help if you had low heat input to cut high-strength structural steel.
Disadvantages of Plasma Cutting
- You will need another type of cutter for materials thicker than 150mm.
- Plasma cutting is noisy. Also, it generates plenty of fumes. Thus, your workers need to wear protective gear all the time. Aso, your workshop should be well ventilated or in the open.
- The electrodes are expensive and scarce. Thus, you will incur high costs should the machine break down.
- Plasma cutting produces very bright flashes. Thus, all workers should wear protective goggles to protect their eyesight.
Plasma Cutting Tips
Few steps you should understand to ensure that your cutting process is smooth. They include;
- Choose the right plasma cutter for your operations. Examine the weight, size, output power, input power, cutting speed, and duty cycle.
- Read the manual carefully.
- Ensure you set up the cutter well.
- Trace a path on the workpiece before you proceed to cut.
- Check the consumables such as electrodes and replace them once they are worn out.
- Use the correct travel speed for different thicknesses.
- Observe all safety precautions.
Plasma cutting is the most effective cutting method for medium and thin metals. It’s cheap and accurate. Plasma cutting is the best method for cutting the metal plate. Also, you can use the cutter with the help of a computer.