Are you wondering if you can use a plasma cutter without an air compressor? If yes, you are far from alone. Although most plasma cutting machines come with an air compressor, you can find some units that come without this useful component. This can be confusing for beginners, especially, and might have you questioning, does that mean that we don’t need one? Let’s take a closer look.

What are the components of a plasma cutter?

If you have not seen a plasma cutter up close and personal before, then it can be difficult to understand how they are set up. There are several vital components that all plasma cutting machines need to have in order to function properly.

These are:

How is an air compressor used in plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting uses a combination of heated gas and electricity to cut through various metals such as stainless steel and aluminium, but where does compressed air come into play?

It’s simple really. The reason why people use plasma cutters is that they are able to harness high-intensity heat for a superior cut quality. However, it is through the use of an air compressor that this heat is directed to the metal, allowing for a more precise cut.

The amount of air pressure that you need when using a plasma cutter is about 4-8 SCFM delivered at 90-120 psi. This covers units that are intended for up to 3/8 inches thick steel to large units that can handle 7/8 inch steel.

Ideally, you should choose an air compressor with a CFM rating that is 1.5 to 2 times higher than your plasma cutter.

Should you invest in an air compressor?

There are multiple reasons why you should invest in an air compressor to use alongside your plasma torch, with one of the most notable ones being you can enjoy a more precise and cleaner cut. In fact, if you want to make the exact same cut time and time again, then an air compressor is a definite must.

Another benefit of using compressed air is that you can find high-performing plasma cutting machines that have built-in air compressors. Not only does this allow for portability but it also means you will only have one power cord which can make the laser cutting experience easier.

Whether you think that a portable air compressor and plasma cutter combo is the right choice for your cutting needs or you are unsure still, contact us here and let us find the perfect plasma cutting machine for you.

Are there any downsides to using an air compressor?

If you are wondering why some people choose not to use one of these pneumatic tools, then you should know that it predominantly comes down to cost. Whether you choose to purchase a separate air compressor or you opt for a built-in model, you are still going to have to spend a little bit more money.

Another factor that puts some people off buying built-in air compressors is that these rely on a fixed air pressure, which means that any leaks will have a serious impact on your ability to cut.

All of the above being said, a built-in air compressor can transform your cut quality and provide a level of flexibility that you won’t get from buying a separate unit.  

Favoured by automotive repair shops, fabrication shops, industrial construction sites and salvage operations due to their high speeds and precision cuts, plasma cutters can be used to cut through a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, brass, aluminium, and copper.

However, can they cut through very thick material? This is a typical question that many people have asked in the past before buying their plasma cutter, and it is sensible to do so. Let’s take a closer look below.

How does a plasma cutting machine work?

Our high-end plasma cutting machines use compressed air and special gas to produce a plasma reaction that can cut through metals such as aluminium and stainless steel. In fact, any conductive metal is well suited for using a plasma cutter, including:

That being said, the thicker a metal is, the more hazardous it can be. You should expect sparks to be produced, so you need to ensure you are sticking to your machine’s cutting capacity and that you are taking all the necessary safety precautions.

How thick can a plasma cutter cut?

Plasma cutters provide an effective way to cut both thin and thick materials. However, depending on the machine that you choose, they do have their limitations.

Typically, a handheld plasma torch can cut up to 38mm (1.5 inches) thick steel plate. Whereas, if you need something a bit more powerful, an industrial computer-controller torch can cut steel up to 150mm (6 inches) thick.  

You also need to consider the type of metal that you are cutting. For example, if you are cutting a piece of mild steel, you will experience faster and thicker cuts than with alloys.

How to choose a plasma cutter

Many plasma cutting power sources are rated on both their cutting ability and their amperage. If you want to mostly cut ¼ inch thick materials, you should opt for a low amperage plasma cutter. However, if you regularly cut metals that are around ½ inch thick, then you will need to seek out a higher amperage unit.

If you choose a plasma cutter that operates at the limit of its cutting capacity, both your cutting speed and the quality of your cuts will be affected.

Each one of our plasma cutting units has an optimal range of cutting thickness so that you can easily match the machine to your needs.

Carry out Tests to Help you Decide

If you are not sure which plasma cutter to choose, it can be a good idea to test cuts on a number of different machines, travelling at the same rate of speed on the same thickness of material so that you can see which one offers the highest quality of cut.

You should also look for a machine that provides a quick transfer from pilot arc to cutting arc at a large transfer height, as this will ensure you have better support when cutting.

If you are still not entirely sure whether a plasma cutter is the right choice for your cutting needs, or you need help on choosing the right plasma cutting machine, contact us here and our knowledgeable team will do their best to answer your questions.

Have you recently invested in a waterjet cutting machine? Or perhaps you are thinking about buying one, but you are worried about the upkeep? Either way, the below blog will tell you everything you need to know about keeping your waterjet cutting machine in optimum condition for longer. Follow these tips, and you will ensure that you truly make the most of your tool and your money. Keep reading to find out more.

Familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s recommendations

Wherever you shop for waterjet cutting machines, you should be provided with specific maintenance guidelines and recommendations that will help you to keep your abrasive waterjet working as it should.

Make sure that you thoroughly read through these recommendations and that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out any listed maintenance procedures.

Use preventative maintenance software

Many people don’t realise that you can actually purchase preventative maintenance software systems for your waterjet cutter, which will actively monitor the operating conditions of elements such as the high pressure plumbing, the filters, the pump, and the water quality.

This clever software will also alert you if you require any replacement parts or if your machine needs any maintenance work carried out so that your waterjet cutter can be fixed before any required work becomes cost-prohibitive.

Regularly inspect and clean your waterjet cutter

There are several aspects of your waterjet cutting machine that need to be inspected on a regular basis. These include checking the pump and plumbing components for leaks and inspecting the slats for wear and tear.

You also need to regularly remove any accumulated abrasive and material particles from the tank, as these can damage your machine over time and result in an inferior cutting process. You can find a removal system to do this task for you.

Finally, don’t forget to remove any dissolved solids from the inside edge of the machine’s nozzle using white vinegar to ensure that your machine performs at its best each and every time.

Purchase spare parts in advance

Rather than wait for a component of your waterjet cutter to need replacing, it can be a good idea to purchase spare parts in advance as sometimes you have to wait a while, and this can affect your productivity.

If you need any spare parts for your CNC waterjet or another well-known waterjet cutting machine, contact us here, and we will source these for you. This will ensure your waterjet cutting machine always works in optimal condition.

Test the quality of water

You need to make sure that the water quality meets your waterjet manufacturer’s specifications. You should find that most UK city water supplies will meet the requirements. However, if you are using poor quality water and high-temperature water, you will find that the lifespan of your machine’s components, such as its pressure seals, are greatly reduced.

If the water you are using is not of the highest quality, you may want to use a chiller, water softener, or water treatment system to improve it.

Are you thinking about investing in a waterjet cutting machine but are not sure if this popular tool lives up to the hype? Known for its ability to cut through almost any material, surely even this innovative technology must have its limits?

Keep reading to find out whether these high pressure pumps are everything you hoped them to be. Plus, discover how thick they can cut and where to buy the best waterjet cutter online.

What materials can a waterjet cut?

If you are looking to buy a waterjet cutting machine, rather than look at what you can’t cut with a waterjet machine, let’s take a closer look at what you can cut with this versatile and multitasking tool. This should help in making that final purchasing decision.

Metals

Waterjets can cut all types of metal, including aluminium, hardened tool steel, titanium, and a whole host of other lesser-known types of metals that you would struggle to cut through with another cutting method.

When you cut material with a waterjet, you will obtain a smooth edge with no burn marks or cracking, and, since the cut process is a cold one, there is no heat-affected zone.

Naturals

Natural materials such as glass, stone, and wood can also be easily cut using a waterjet cutter. In fact, our waterjet cutting machines can cut through practically any natural material you can find.

Using special abrasive waterjets, you can machine natural materials with the utmost precision and producing less particulate than with static cutting methods.

Composites

Abrasive waterjet cutting has many advantages when cutting composites, such as carbon fibre, including no melting, no hazardous fumes, and no need to change tooling halfway through the job.

Water jet cutting machines can be used to make an accurate cut in any fibre-reinforced material with both high speed and high precision.  

Plastic & Rubber

Using just a stream of water, you can easily cut through machine foam, rubber, and acrylics with ease, making a waterjet cutter one of the most flexible cutting tools on the market. As many products are made using these two materials, plastic and rubber, it can be handy to know that you have a suitable tool to handle the job of cutting them to the shape and size you require.

How thick can a waterjet cutting machine cut?

The only thing you need to consider when deciding if a waterjet cutter is the right tool for you is whether it can cut thick enough for your requirements. As a general rule, abrasive waterjets can cut through 12 inches of most materials, with some users reporting that their chosen waterjet cutter cut even thicker than that.

That being said, most people who use waterjet cutters cut material that is 3 inches thick or less as cutting thicker materials reduces the tolerance that can be maintained and increases the length of time it takes to make the cut.

Interested to know more about waterjet cutting machines and whether or not this is the right cutting method for your professional or personal needs? Contact us here, and our friendly and knowledgeable team will answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Waterjet cutting involves using a special cutter that employs a jet of high pressure water to cut through a variety of different materials. Watching the process of this jet stream is quite fascinating, and this method of cutting certainly gets the job done quickly, but that exactly are the advantages of using waterjet cutting? Read on to find out.

Waterjet Cutters Are Green Technology

We all know – or should know, at least – that we have to become a lot more environmentally friendly in everything we do. That applies to business owners and individuals, and whether it’s your home or business, you need to work out ways to be kinder to the planet.

Using waterjet cutting methods is one such improvement you can make. The cold cutting process doesn’t create any kind of dangerous or hazardous waste, and neither does it employ any chemicals in the cutting methods. As we’ve said, it’s simply a water jet, albeit a highly pressurised one.

Waterjet Cutters Can Get Through Almost Anything

Another get benefit to using waterjet cutting machines is that they will cut almost any material. Compare a waterjet cutter with another type of cutting machine, and you’ll see that whereas other units might have quite large limitations on what they can cut for you, the waterjet cutter is far more likely to do the job you need it to do. As examples, the waterjet cutting machine can cut through:

So no matter what job you need to be done, waterjet cutting technology will help you achieve your goal.

The Cutting Steam Produces Less Heat

When working on metal fabrication, one of the big and potentially most dangerous issues is the heat. Traditional laser cutting will produce a huge amount of heat which means you need to be extremely careful when using the equipment, and damage is highly possible. If you choose to cut metal with a waterjet cutting machine, however, you’ll find that much less heat is produced, making it a lot safer to use.

Not only does the material you are cutting not get as hot as it would if you were using other cutting services, but there are no additional heat affected zones adjacent to the cutting tables either. This means that the area you’re working in won’t overheat, making it safer for you, your work colleagues, and your place of work in general.

Waterjet Cutting Is Highly Accurate

Another advantage of waterjet cutting that is sure to mean a lot to both business owners and their customers is that this method of cutting is extremely accurate. In fact, waterjet cutters can offer a 0.13mm degree of accuracy. Plus, they can cut highly intricate 3D shapes and specific patterns, meaning that no matter what you need in terms of the material you’re cutting, the waterjet cutter can offer it to you.

For more information about waterjet cutters and what they can do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Are you worried about the lifespan of your plasma cutting machine?

If yes, you needn’t be. With the right care and regular maintenance, there is no reason why your plasma cutting machine can’t last for many more years to come.

It can be a good idea to think about your plasma cutting machine as like the tyres on your car. If you want to get the best performance out of it, you need to make sure that you undertake all the necessary machine maintenance.

As with most things in life, prevention is always better than cure, so within the below blog, we have detailed the top preventative maintenance tips for your plasma cutters which promise to extend the life of this crucial metal cutting tool.

How to Maximise the Lifespan of Your Plasma Cutting Machine? 1

Clean and Inspect

As part of the proper maintenance of plasma cutting machines, you need to carry out routine cleaning and inspections, as don’t forget, this tool comes into close contact with molten metal on a daily basis!

There are several steps within these processes which are as follows:

How to Maximise the Lifespan of Your Plasma Cutting Machine? 2

Check common wear items

As well as routine maintenance tasks, you also need to check your plasma consumables, i.e., the components of your plasma cutter that have a certain life cycle and will need replacing at some point.

The frequency at which you need to replace a specific part of the machine, such as your torch consumables, main contactors and relays, will be dependent on how often you use your machine. However, typically, each item will need replacing after a set number of months or arc hours.

Recommendations are as follows:

Every six months or 500 arc hours, you should replace:

Every 12 months or 1,000 arc hours, you should replace:

Every two years or 2,000 arc hours, you should replace:

When you purchase a plasma cutting machine from us here at Kerf Developments, you are guaranteed high-quality post-sales support. We won’t disappear like so many other manufacturers as soon as we close a sale. We will always be standing by to help you get the most out of your plasma cutting machine.

Although plasma cutters are great at getting the job done, they do need to be treated with care if you want to avoid any unexpected and unwanted incidents. As a general rule, you should not let any unauthorised personnel handle a plasma cutting machine without supervision. However, there are also several other plasma cutting machine safety tips that you and your team should be aware of.  

From wearing the right clothing and gloves to ensuring the area is well-ventilated, keep reading to discover the necessary safety precautions that you and your employees should be taking when using plasma cutting equipment.  

Plasma Cutting Machine Safety Tips 3

1.   Avoid electrocution

The power output levels for plasma cutting machines such as profile cutting machines can result in fatal shocks if electrocution were to occur, so you need to take active steps to avoid this from happening.

Ways in which you can prevent electrocution include:

2.   Check the cable

Faulty wiring is extremely dangerous when it comes to plasma cutting machines, so you need to make sure the ground cable is checked over before use. If you do find any issues, make sure they are repaired before the machine is used again.

Plasma Cutting Machine Safety Tips 4

3.   Wear safety glasses

The arc rays from plasma cutters produce both infrared and ultraviolet rays, which are harmful to the skin and eyes. Therefore, you must wear a face shield or safety glasses when using this type of cutting equipment.

4.   Invest in protective clothing

Your eyes are not the only thing that needs protecting when you use a plasma cutter. You also need to protect your body during the cutting processes as flying sparks are commonplace.

Protective clothing you should purchase includes:

Plasma Cutting Machine Safety Tips 5

5.   Provide adequate ventilation

The plasma cutting process involves fumes and gases that can be detrimental to your health. Therefore, you should make sure that you provide a well-ventilated environment for your employees. If your team have to work in a confined space, you should supply air-supplied respirators.

Plasma Cutting Machine Safety Tips 6

6.   Handle gas cylinders with care

Plasma arc cutting systems use compressed air and other gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen, so you need to make sure that you handle these gas cylinders with care. When using a cylinder, securely chain them to a stationary, upright support at all times.

If you need to move a gas cylinder, make sure that you fasten the threaded protector cap to the top of the cylinder first, as this will shield the valve system from impact damage.

Need more advice on how to stay safe when using plasma cutting machines? Here at Kerf Developments, we are experts in plasma cutting and can tell you everything you need to know about safety precautions when cutting.

Plasma cutting is one of the fastest, most efficient ways to cut metals such as carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminium, allowing you to cut through materials up to 6 inches thick.

However, to achieve a superior clean cut, you need to make sure you are using the right type of gas for your material. There are several gases that are used in plasma cutting, with each one having its own advantages and disadvantages. Find out below which gases are used in plasma cutting, plus what gas you should use for each type of metal.

Compressed air

Air is one of the most adaptable forms of gas on offer, and as you don’t have to purchase it, this dramatically lowers the cost of the overall cutting process. That being said, shop air is a superior choice as it is cleaned before sold, thus eliminating contaminants such as oil, mist and moisture.

For cutting aluminium:

For cutting carbon steel:

For cutting stainless steel:

What Type of Gas Do You Use With a Plasma Cutter? 7

Oxygen

If you want fast speeds with lower power levels when using your plasma cutting machines, then oxygen is the plasma gas for you. Ideal for cutting structura- low carbon and low alloy steel, it can be used for cutting materials with a variety of different thicknesses.

For cutting aluminium:

For cutting carbon steel:

For cutting stainless steel:

What Type of Gas Do You Use With a Plasma Cutter? 8

Nitrogen

If you need to cut large amounts of aluminium or stainless steel, then nitrogen is a great choice. This plasma gas offers excellent parts life but is not the best option for thick materials.

For cutting aluminium:

For cutting carbon steel:

For cutting stainless steel:

What Type of Gas Do You Use With a Plasma Cutter? 9

Hydrogen

Hydrogen plasma gas is classed as environmentally friendly as it reduces the emission of Co2. This gas contributes to increased productivity due to its high-speed cutting.

For cutting aluminium:

For cutting carbon steel:

For cutting stainless steel:

Argon

For materials that are greater than ½ an inch thick, argon is good to use. Argon does not react with metals when cutting, which is why it is classified as an inert gas.

For aluminium cutting:

For carbon steel cutting:

For stainless steel cutting:

What Type of Gas Do You Use With a Plasma Cutter? 10

Argon-Hydrogen

You can also use an argon hydrogen mix to cut through stainless steel and aluminium. This is usually a percentage of 35 hydrogen and 65 argon. This option offers maximum cutting capacities and is the hottest plasma gas available.

It should be used for any cutting processes that involve materials that exceed a 3 inches thickness.

Plasma Gas

As well as the five named plasma gases above, plasma gas can also be further categorised into three different phases:

Need help picking the right case for your plasma cutters? Get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team here.

If you work in the metal cutting business, you will know only too well how strong this material is, and this is why it is used to build some of the world’s most important creations. Unfortunately, it’s this immense strength that also acts as its main weakness. To put it bluntly, metal is extremely hard to manipulate and mould.

Or this would be the case, if no one had invented plasma cutting machines. With the ability to slice through metals such as stainless steel, aluminium, brass and copper with little to no resistance, you can enjoy superior cutting quality and high speed when you choose to invest in plasma cutting machines.

What is the Purpose of a Plasma Cutter? 11

How does a plasma cutter work?

A plasma cutter works by sending an electric arc through a gas such as oxygen or nitrogen that is passing through a restricted opening. Using this extreme heat, plasma cutters can increase the temperature of the gas and convert it into plasma gas. This results in the ability to pass through metals and create clean lines and sturdier constructions.

Generally, this method of cutting metals is safer than using a manual saw which is why it is favoured by so many metalworkers.

What sort of work is plasma cutting used for?

Plasma cutting machines are used in all sorts of metal fabrication projects and are often found on construction sites or salvage yards. They can also be used by designers and sculptors and in the production process of decorative panels for interior projects.

In several mild steel products, plasma cut metal is combined with metal finishing processes such as powder coating for a coloured finish.

Plasma cutters can be used to cut a straight line, for cutting shapes and even for cutting bespoke images. Check out our ultrasharp plasma cutting machines that use the latest cutting technology to provide the highest quality cut each and every time.

What is the Purpose of a Plasma Cutter? 12

What types of plasma cutters are available?

Plasma cutters are used in a wide variety of different industries, including construction, manufacturing, auto shops and locksmiths. There are two main types of plasma cutters that you can choose from: manual plasma cutters and mechanised plasma cutters.

Manual plasma cutters, aka a plasma torch or a plasma arc, tend to be handheld and are smaller, portable and often more versatile than their mechanised counterparts. These types of cutters are usually used for light metal applications.

Mechanised plasma cutters, on the other hand, are better suited to large scale jobs. Typically these cutters have more features and are used in conjunction with cutting tables. They are not portable and require a large power supply to work.

The type of plasma cutter that you choose will be dependent on the size, shape and thickness of the material that you need to cut.

Need help choosing a plasma cutting machine for your business? Contact us here today, and we will share our knowledge of high precision cutting with you.

If you work in the cutting industry, chances are you have heard of both laser cutting and CNC cutting, also known as CNC routing. However, you might not be entirely sure what each of these cutting machines does and which one you should be using for your cutting needs.

Don’t worry if this is the case, as the below blog will explain everything you need to know about both a laser cutting machine and a CNC cutter, including what are the benefits of each one of these popular cutting tools.

CNC Machines

CNC machines, or CNC routers, are automated cutting tools that follow a set programmed path through computer numerical control. They use a contact-based cutting process for enhanced flexibility and versatility. CNC cutting is achieved through friction.

CNC cutters such as our profile cutting machines can cut materials such as plastic, foam, wood, composites and acrylic. They are also ideal for cutting steel, aluminium and other metal plates to specific specifications.

What’s the Difference Between CNC Cutting and Laser Cutting? 13

Laser Cutting Machines

Laser cutting machines are also computer-controlled, but when it comes to the actual cutting, a high powered laser beam is used to cut through the materials. Laser cutting is achieved through heat.

Laser cutters can be used to cut the same materials as CNC machines, including metal, glass, plastic foam, gemstones, wood and paper. However, one laser cutting machine can perform multiple processes at once, which a CNC machine cannot.

What are the main differences between the two cutting methods?

CNC cutting is done through direct contact of the tool with the object that is being cut. With laser cutting, there is no direct contact as the cutting is carried out from a distance using laser beams. In addition, CNC cutting is widely used by small businesses, whereas laser cutting is more popular in large industries.

A CNC cutter also cannot be used for welding, but a laser cutter can be used for welding.

What’s the Difference Between CNC Cutting and Laser Cutting? 14

Why choose CNC cutting?

One of the main reasons why people choose CNC cutting over laser cutting is that it is more affordable. Not only are CNC cutting machines cheaper to purchase, but their power consumption costs are also lower.

CNC cutters also make diagonal, curved and straight lines with ease, providing a smooth edged finish that you cannot get with manual cutting.

What’s the Difference Between CNC Cutting and Laser Cutting? 15

Why choose laser cutting?

Although the more expensive option, laser cutting machines do have several advantages over CNC cutters. One of the most crucial plus points is that laser cutters offer a level of precision that just isn’t possible with a friction-based cutting device, which means you have more creative control when cutting or engraving with a laser. You can also enjoy cleaned, and sealed edges as laser cutting involves burning, which results in a higher quality finished product.

Both CNC cutting and laser cutting are highly efficient and flexible methods used in the fabrication of precision parts and components within the manufacturing industry. If you are still not sure which cutting process you need, contact us here today, and our experienced and knowledgeable team will endeavour to help you make the right choice for your business.

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