A plasma cutter is a machine that uses an electric arc to heat the metal and cut through it, engraving shapes in much the same way as a laser cutter does. It’s used to cut out objects from larger pieces of metal, but it can also be used to create individual parts for products like machines or cars. Plasma cutting is one of the most common manufacturing processes today because it can work with different metals and provide clean cuts without leaving behind any residue on the material being worked on. Here are some tips for using a plasma cutter better!
1. Consider quality when looking for a plasma cutter
You should be aware that the higher the voltage, the greater the cut depth and faster-cutting speed. A more robust and costly machine will likely provide more consistent results than a less expensive and more portable one.
If you’re looking for a plasma cutter, your options range from units with plug-in 110V cords to units with built-in generators that generate 60 Hz at 3-phase 120/208/240 VAC up to 1000 or even 10,000 A. Portable or benchtop units typically weigh less than 45 pounds, while heavy-duty machines can be over 500 pounds.
There are a lot of companies that offer these products online, and you can easily look them up. Among other options on the market, a Messer plasma cutting machine can suit your needs well. But still, make sure to read reviews and ask around before you buy anything. Quality is much more important than price when purchasing a plasma cutter. A cheaper one may save you money now, but you will not be getting the best possible results.
Things to consider when choosing a model for yourself:
- How much do you plan on using the plasma cutter? Are you going to be using it once in a while or every day at your job?
- Where will you use it? Is portability important, or can you sacrifice that for power and stability?
- What material will you be working with? Will you need deeper cuts than others? This means that if you’re planning on cutting through thick metal pieces often, then perhaps the heaviest model is your best bet.
This machine represents a tech-savvy option for users in the market for plasma-cutting products. It is customizable with a wide range of accessories, high-quality components, and a large work area.
2. Identify material type before getting started
What you want to do first is determine what kind of material (e.g., stainless steel, aluminum) and technique (e.g., wet or dry cutting) you will use.
There are different types of electrodes for different materials. Also, you should be aware that the depth of your cut will vary depending on whether you are using a dry or wet process.
For example, stainless steel is more brittle than mild steel, so it cannot withstand as much heat during the cutting process. Aluminum conducts electricity very well and can hold up to high amperage rates. This means that aluminum creates slag faster than other metals, making it more difficult to handle with less-experienced employees. Steel also has higher resistivity levels which means they require more voltage to melt through the metal quickly.
Plasma cutters used for piercing and shearing (or notching) can work without an electrode at all: simply pull the trigger of the plasma cutter to create a spark for an electrode-less cut. This method is called flash cutting and works on thin or softer materials like rubber, fabric, foam, plastic, wood, paper, and film.
3. Wet vs dry cutting
There are two ways to cut with plasma: wet cutting and dry cutting.
Dry cutting is best for thinner cuts. It uses an electrode which means the vaporized material cools the arc and creates a cleaner, more precise cut.
Wet cutting is used for thicker metals or steels since it produces the most molten metal fragments (slag) where they can be easily chipped away by hand after cooling down. Slag helps protect the material under it during cutting, so you don’t need any shielding gas or additional equipment.
Some plasma cutter models are capable of using both processes in one, including setup for dual voltage in case you want to use both electrode and nozzle in dry/wet cut modes (e.g., torches that can switch between 40 and 100 amps and between cutting, dry gouging, and dry notching modes).
Lubricating the material is helpful when it comes to plasma cutting. It helps make sure you get a clean cut with no burrs or sharp edges on the bottom of your material.
4. Place the material on a flat surface and clamp it down
Placing the material on a flat surface helps ensure that while you’re cutting, the material will remain steady and not slip and slide across the table while cutting.
This not only makes it easier for you to cut but also reduces the risk that your blade or plasma arc will contact any object other than the intended material. This also provides stability to the workpiece while cutting.
Clamping down the material might assist with stability, but make sure it’s done firmly. It may also be a good idea to draw guidelines on the surface where you will cut to line up your pieces when clamping them down.
Furthermore, securely clamping down your workpiece will help you get cleaner cuts and reduce chipping along the edges of your piece. Even if you don’t plan on using this for anything other than making crafts at home, it can still be helpful to have clean lines between your pieces when they’re separated after cutting.
5. Ensure that your wires are plugged in properly
The plasma cutter requires electricity to conduct the electric arc through the air so that it melts through metal – this is why you need to be sure that your wires are plugged in properly.
If they’re not, the electrical current won’t run through the welding gun, and there will be no electric arc to conduct heat through the metal material you’re working with. This can result in a damaged machine, an unwanted spark or fire, or injury if you touch the wire when it’s not plugged incorrectly or if something else happens involving electricity.
Always double-check before you plug the plasma cutter back on!
6. Shield yourself from metal debris
You should always wear protective gloves, face shields, glasses, ear protection, etc., working with a plasma cutter! This can help to avoid personal injury or damage to your eyes, ears, hands, etc.
Protective gear must be mandatory for you and for everyone that works with you. Metal fragments released during the cutting process can cause a forceful impact on your body if they’re not shielded properly (e.g., ear protection). It’s better to be safe than sorry! Also, remember to wear dark, solid clothes and closed-toe shoes (e.g., steel toe boots).
Being at a safe distance when starting the plasma cutter is important since metal debris can fly very fast and far! This includes when you’re starting the machine, waiting for it to warm up, and while it’s operational.
If you are considering purchasing a plasma cutter or have already purchased one and want to maximize its potential in your business, these tips should help. Always wear protective gear when using the machine to avoid injury from metal debris released during cutting. It’s also important to double-check before plugging in the machine, so there isn’t any risk of electric shock or damage due to faulty wiring, etc. Remember that metal shavings created during the cutting process can be dangerous – especially to your eyes, hands, and ears.
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