Thinking about investing in a plasma cutting machine but wondering how hot can they actually get?

As one of the most effective ways to cut metal using heat, a plasma torch needs to be reaching a very high temperature in order to do its job properly.

Whether you are concerned about safety or you want to ensure that the heat of a plasma cutter is sufficient for the task at hand, read on to discover everything you need to know about how hot plasma cutting machines get.

How does plasma get hot?

For those that don’t know, plasma is the fourth state of matter and is created when a gas is heated to a high temperature and controlled in such a way as to strip atoms of their electrons.

When it comes specifically to plasma cutting machines, a particular gas, or a mix of gases, is pushed down a narrow nozzle at great speed, which creates friction and makes the gas so hot that it transforms into plasma.

How hot can plasma get?

If you are wondering just how hot can a plasma torch get, then you may be shocked to hear that plasma can get as hot as 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 25,000 degrees Celsius. To put this into perspective, the surface of the sun is around 9,940 degrees Fahrenheit or 5,505 degrees Celsius, although it can reach temperatures of up to 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly the same temperature as a plasma cutter.

Furthermore, as well as reaching temperatures hotter than the sun, the flame on a plasma torch is so bright that you should never look directly at it as this could cause permanent eye damage.

How does a plasma cutter work?

Plasma cutters use a gas, such as nitrogen or oxygen, to create a plasma arc that has the ability to melt and cut through metals such as stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminium.

Each plasma cutter features a nozzle that allows you to control the shape and size of the plasma arc. The amount of heat applied to the material will affect how quickly it will melt or cut. You can adjust this heat by altering the speed of the cutter or by moving closer or further away from the workpiece.

How to use a plasma cutter safely?

Given the above information, you may be concerned that a CNC plasma cutter is too dangerous to use in your work area. Fortunately, this is not the case, as long as you take the necessary safety precautions.

Do you need more information on how to use a plasma cutting machine safely and effectively? Contact us here and let us help you find the right plasma cutter for your cutting needs.

Plasma cutting is most commonly known for its ability to cut stainless steel, but you may be wondering if it can also be used to cut aluminium.

Within the below blog, you will discover if plasma cutting systems have the ability to effectively cut aluminium as well as how you can achieve a high-quality, clean cut.

Can you use a plasma cutter on aluminium?

Yes, you can use plasma cutting machines to cut through aluminium as it is an electrically conductive metal. Typically, plasma cutting can be used to cut through aluminium that is less than 6 inches thick, with the thicker the metal, the harder it is to cut through.

If you are interested to know more about how plasma cutters are able to cut aluminium and other conductive metals, then it is by using a concentrated stream of ionised gases that creates heat and essentially melts the metal. Therefore, all you need to cut through aluminium is a compressor (to provide compressed air), some form of gas, and a plasma cutting machine.

The best mix of gases for cutting aluminium with a plasma cutting machine is argon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

What level of cut quality can I expect when plasma cutting aluminium?

If you are worried that aluminium has too low a melting point to be cut accurately using a plasma cutting machine, then you needn’t be. Although it is true that the melting point of aluminium is lower than other metals, as long as you use the correct gases, you can get a clean cut on both thick and thin aluminium.

Furthermore, due to advancements in plasma cutting technology, you can now enjoy good angle variation that is comparable to mild and stainless steel.

How can you achieve a high-quality cut on aluminium?

To get the most precise cut when using a CNC plasma cutting machine on aluminium, you need to make sure that you use the settings detailed in the owner’s manual that came with your cutter.

You should also ensure that you move your torch in one direction only and make sure that it is a set distance from your workpiece.

Is laser cutting better for cutting aluminium?

Although laser cutting offers a highly fast and effective way to cut steel, it is actually not the best option when it comes to cutting aluminium. This is because you can’t use oxygen to laser cut aluminium. Instead, high-pressure nitrogen is needed, which provides much slower cutting speeds. Plus, you need a large amount of nitrogen to do this, which can prove costly.

When to NOT use a plasma cutter for aluminium

Most of the time, you can cut an aluminium plate or sheet using a plasma cutter. However, there are a few instances when this method of cutting should be avoided, including:

Are you looking for a new plasma cutting machine? Contact us here, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members will help you pick the right machine for your cutting needs.

If you are looking for a metal cutting solution that fits your specific requirements, then you need to take water jet cutters into consideration.

Waterjets are one of the most effective cutting methods you can use for metal, providing a whole host of benefits. 

Not only does the waterjet approach offer the widest range of metal cutting thicknesses, but it is relatively environmentally friendly, especially when compared to other metal cutting methods. Whether you are looking to implement long or short production runs, need an impressive level of accuracy, or need to pump out products quickly, this solution can deliver. 

As a result, if you are looking for a flexible cutting method that can cut thick pieces of metal, you need to consider a waterjet cutter.

Here is what you need to know about waterjet systems and the level of metal thickness they can penetrate through:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Waterjet Cutting?

Benefits of waterjet metal cutters

Firstly, it is critical to appreciate the many benefits of a waterjet cut, especially when compared with the various other metal cutting solutions available. 

Waterjet systems offer one of the highest quality cuts available on the market. This would not be so noteworthy if it weren’t for the fact that it also provides one of the fastest and most efficient cuts, too. This tempting combination of speed and accuracy makes it ideal for both high and low volume production runs. 

Within these two key benefits lie hidden, easily overlooked advantages

Usually, creating a one-off prototype product to test or show to a client is a costly and time-consuming process. Many production methods only become efficient when producing items en-masse, which is tricky when you only need a single example. 

When you use a waterjet cutter, this process is made simple and cost-efficient because the process is so rapid. 

Furthermore, waterjet cutting is regarded to a great extent as an environmentally-friendly form of metal cutting because it is a cold process. Although this will be elaborated upon later on, for now, it is worth noting that because there is no heat generation involved, a waterjet cutter won’t require any lubricating or cooling oils. It uses water only. The upshot of this is that you don’t need to get rid of any contaminated chips afterwards, which could damage the wider environment or generate toxic fumes during the cutting process. 

If you are interested in learning more about waterjet cutters, feel free to contact us

The waterjet metal cutting process explained

Now it is time to discover more about the waterjet cutting process and the levels of metal thickness it can cut through.

As its name suggests, the waterjet cutter uses a mechanical sawing process to cut through a material - rather than using heat to create a chemical reaction. 

Think of it like an extremely powerful saw, using a huge number of individual teeth to cut away at the extent from one surface. 

It then injects a narrow current of high pressure water into the metal using serrated pieces of garnet (or similar types of rock). To ensure that the abrasive waterjet cuts through the metal, this process has to happen at an extremely high speed. 

The water is then compressed using high pressure pumps and injected into the metal through a tiny hole, which in turn accelerates the velocity of the ultra high pressure water. 

This method is enough to cut through an extremely thick slice of metal. As a rule of thumb, waterjet cutters can manage up to around three inches thick of metal. While you can theoretically manage a thicker amount, the overall cutting process will be lengthened, and it will become less efficient as a result. 

The metals that a waterjet machine can cut include aluminium, titanium carbon fibre, and transition elements like copper, which are also classed as a chemical element. If in doubt about your chosen material, you can always check in the periodic table.

Oxy-fuel cutting machines are one of the most impressive solutions on the market, offering a range of benefits that could take your metal-cutting processes to the next level.

There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, oxy-fuel cutting machines are incredibly accurate, thanks to a small plasma torch. This allows it to create shapes that other types of cutters could only dream of, which is ideal if you are trying to create delicate shapes with thinner metal. 

Despite this accuracy, oxy-fuel metal cutters can also cut through thicker materials than other solutions, making it an incredibly robust all-round machine. 

However, although these benefits are compelling, what you need to know is which metals oxy-fuel machines can cut. This will help you decide whether it is the right tool for you or whether you will have to look elsewhere.

Here is everything you need to know about the types of metal an oxy-fuel cutter can be used on.

How oxy-fuel cutters work

Before diving into the specific types of metals you can use an oxy-fuel cutter with, it is important to understand how the cutter itself works.

Essentially, oxy-fuel cutters use oxy fuel combustion in the form of an oxygen/fuel gas flame to raise the temperature of the metal to the necessary melting point before a powerful jet is aimed at it. 

This high concentration of flame temperatures creates a chemical reaction between the pure oxygen and the metal at a high melting point, allowing you to cut through it efficiently. 

Of course, with oxy-fuel cutters, your results will vary depending on the type of fuel gas you use as power generation. The fuels on offer for oxy-fuel combustion are acetylene, propylene, natural gas, or propane. Your choice will usually depend upon your particular requirements, such as the cost, heat output, and the amount of oxygen the tool consumes. 

The metals that oxy-fuel can cut through

The properties of metals that you use will likely determine which cutting solution is right for you. 

Oxy-fuel cutters are most often used to cut ferrous metals and metals that contain some iron, which is a transition metal. 

Therefore, it is important to start by examining the periodic table to find metals that have the suitable chemical element. These metals include cut carbon steel, another steel alloy or titanium, as well as metals that form compounds, including those containing small amounts of rare earth metals. 

Of course, if you are looking to cut materials with non-ferrous metallic elements, such as cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminium, an oxy-fuel metal cutter is probably not the best option to consider

How to operate a Plasma Cutting Machine

What is the difference between plasma and oxy-fuel cutting?

Of course, you are not short of alternatives if you are looking for a metal cutter. Many businesses are now switching to plasma cutters as an alternative to oxy-fuel, which uses an ionised gas that conducts electricity because they have improved their level of accuracy in recent years. 

Despite this, it is worth emphasising the benefits of an oxy-fuel cutter. These include the impressive cutting speeds, which tend to be faster than other cutting methods, the depth of material they can cut through, their relative cheapness compared to an equivalent plasma cutter, and their ability to be easily transported, which is ideal if you run a construction company.

If you need a tool that can handle several different tasks, then an oxy-fuel cutter is a good option. This is because you can also use it to solder, heat, gouge, and weld. 

Contact us to find out more.

High-definition plasma cutting machines are a clear cut above standard systems. While this may not necessarily be relevant to you if the cut quality is not high on the priority list, it is crucial to know enough about these innovative tools to decide which plasma cutter is right for your needs.

For some, the additional accuracy, improvements in cut quality, and cutting speeds make high-definition plasma cutters a no-brainer, while others may not require this level of performance and are better off sticking with standard CNC plasma equipment. 

By developing a deeper understanding of the various plasma cutting approaches, you will better appreciate how beneficial high-definition plasma cutters can be. Even if you don’t opt for it right away, it can form part of your future work processes if and when you decide to upgrade your production line. 

Here is what you need to know about high-definition plasma cutting technology, how it improves over standard CNC plasma cutting, and whether it is the right option for you.

working with plasma cutting machines can make your workplace more efficient and productive, they are not without dangers.

Different types of metal cutting

Before you learn more about the benefits of high-definition plasma cutting, it is important to understand the different approaches to cutting metal and how they differ from one another.

One of the most effective forms of metal cutters is a conventional plasma cutting machine. This is a relatively low-cost solution, which allows you to cut metal far more quickly than if you were to use a laser machine. 

Alternatively, you could use an oxy fuel cutting machine, which is exceptionally accurate and is ideal if you are looking to create intricate designs on cut surfaces. They have a small plasma torch, which allows it to reach awkward, narrow, or minuscule areas of a piece of metal. 

Lastly, you could use a waterjet cutting machine, which is ideal if you are looking for an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient cutter that can be used in a wide variety of industries and tasks, such as profile cutting. It uses a mechanical sawing action to cut through materials rather than a thermal approach, such as plasma. The result is that it can cut through almost any metal with minimal waste. 

Benefits of high-definition plasma cutting

Now that you have a detailed overview of the alternative cutting solutions on offer, it is time to learn more about how high-definition plasma cutting machines can be of service. 

You are probably wondering why you would bother with the high-definition solution when the conventional plasma cutting machines are already so effective at cutting a wide range of both ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals.

The answer is that HD plasma machines allow you to cut thinner materials at a higher cutting speed, providing a high quality finish for cut parts. 

High-definition plasma cutters are similar to standard CNC machines, but they have a greater level of control over their plasma arcs, resulting in a superior cut quality. 

Therefore, it is best to treat high-definition plasma cutters as standard cutters that have been enhanced in every measurable way. If you are looking for the finest quality cuts, completed at high speed, without spending eye-watering amounts on operating costs, then this is a compelling option to consider.

Indeed, given the impressive cutting speeds and consumable life of its constituent parts, high-definition plasma cutting systems might be a more cost-effective solution than seemingly cheaper alternatives. 
If you are interested in high-definition plasma cutters, contact us now.

If you are starting to research different types of metal cutting machines, you will be forgiven for feeling confused by the sheer range of choice available and which tool best suits your requirements.

The CNC plasma cutter is one such tool, and it is certainly a compelling option worth learning more about. It has built a reputation as being a cost-effective and agile cutting solution, which can be used to cut several different metals, including stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium and wear-resistant plate.

Here is everything you need to know about CNC plasma cutters, and whether it is a tool that is suited to your needs

What Industries Utilise Plasma Cutting?

What is a CNC plasma cutter?

The CNC plasma cutter is a manufacturing process in which a computer-operated plasma torch cuts through metals of various shapes and sizes. CNC stands for computer numerical control. 

At a fundamental level, this requires CNC plasma cutting machines to propel a jet of hot plasma at the intended material, cutting through it efficiently, quickly, and accurately. To do this, the plasma cutter directs a jet of gas, or compressed air, through its nozzle at a high velocity before adding an electric arc into the mix, which is what creates the plasma itself. 

Benefits of CNC plasma cutting machines

There are several benefits associated with using plasma cutting machines, and CNC variants in particular.

The first and perhaps most persuasive reason to use CNC plasma cutting systems is that they can cut through metals far faster than other cutting tools, such as laser cutters. This can help you to increase the overall speed of your production and make your workflow processes a lot more efficient.

Another benefit of CNC metal cutting is that you can cut through far heavier and thicker pieces of metal. Alternatives like flame-cutting equipment can’t cut with the same power on these types of metal. 

While a CNC cutting machine does give away a little in overall cut quality, you can still expect a high quality finish overall. 

Finally, CNC plasma cutting tables incorporate easy to use software, which allows your staff to operate the machine without needing specialist computational knowledge. 

If you are interested in finding out more about how CNC plasma cutters can benefit your business from a manufacturer of CNC, then contact us

CNC Plasma cutter use cases

CNC plasma cutters can be used in a range of different industries. 

These industries include aviation, which commonly uses plasma cutters to cut, weld, or modify various commercial and military aircraft components. 

Moreover, plasma cutters are often used in the automotive world by car manufacturers who make use of the tool’s innate flexibility to create a variety of uniquely shaped and sized componentry. 

As you can undoubtedly work out, almost all manufacturing-based industries that cut heavy-duty metals can use CNC plasma cutters, but this does not limit it to such a use case. For example, sculptors and artists have used CNC plasma cutters when working with metal because it has the flexibility and speed to keep up with their creative vision.

While working with plasma cutting machines can make your workplace more efficient and productive, they are not without dangers.

Providing huge amounts of power, these high-speed tools can be as hot as the surface of the sun when they are on full blast. Not to mention the toxic fumes that they emit so that they are able to deliver the cutting quality you expect.

So, how can you ensure the safety of yourself and your team when you are using your plasma cutting machines?

Keep reading to find out the common hazards of using CNC plasma cutting machines. Plus, our top tips on how to use these innovative tools safely.

working with plasma cutting machines can make your workplace more efficient and productive, they are not without dangers.

Physical Hazards

Raw Heat

As you would expect from a machine that can cut through stainless steel like butter, a CNC plasma cutter exposes you to raw heat that can rival the temperatures found on the surface of the sun.

High Voltage

Anything that uses electricity carries the risk of electrocution, so you need to make sure you are taking the necessary safety precautions to ensure the protection of your employees from the high voltages involved in plasma cutting.

Fire Hazards

Due to the high temperatures involved in plasma arc cutting, there is always going to be a risk of fire. Fortunately, if you follow safety protocols and ensure your staff are properly trained, the risk of fire is minimal.

Vision Damage

A plasma torch gives off a bright flash when in use which can cause irreversible damage to the eyes. Known as arc eye, you can prevent this by ensuring everyone wears the appropriate protective eyewear.

Plasma Cutting Hazards: Things to Consider  & What to Do

Long Term Dangers

As well as immediate threats, there are also several long-term health hazards that can occur if you do not take the proper precautions. This includes:

Respiratory Problems

When you cut metal with a plasma cutter, metal dust and other dangerous fumes and gases are circulated in the air. What can be particularly problematic is if you are cutting coated metals as some of these contain hexavalent chromium, which can lead to serious respiratory problems and even cancer. Respiratory problems will vary from person to person.

Metal Fume Fever

Cutting metals such as copper, nickel, and zinc can all make you more susceptible to metal fume fever. This condition, which has similar symptoms to the flu, is more likely to occur when welding but can also occur during plasma cutting.

Our Top Tips for Using Plasma Cutting Machines Safely

If you want to ensure you and your staff stay safe, you need to take note of the potential hazards and then ensure you follow our top tips:

If you can follow all this and be aware of the dangers, safety will always be a top priority.

Not sure what is the difference between pure waterjet cutting and abrasive waterjet cutting, and which one is the best cutting method for your business?

Within the below blog, we will take a closer look at both water and abrasive cutting so that you can ensure you are choosing the right waterjet technology for the materials being cut in your workplace.

What is pure waterjet cutting?

Pure waterjet cutting uses a pressurised stream of water to make precise cuts in a wide range of materials. Less powerful than abrasive waterjet cutting, pure waterjet cutting is ideal for cutting through soft materials such as:

There are several advantages to using pure waterjet cutting machines, including:

On the other hand, there are also a few disadvantages that you should know about:

What is the Difference Between Pure and Abrasive Waterjet Cutting?

What is abrasive waterjet cutting?

As the name suggests, abrasive waterjet cutting is a more powerful form of water jet cutting and has the ability to cut through harder and more dense materials.

When using an abrasive waterjet cutting machine, typically, a garnet abrasive is added to the water stream via a mixing chamber found in the cutting head.    

Abrasive waterjet cutting is ideal for cutting materials such as:

There are several advantages to using abrasive waterjet cutting machines, including the fact there is more flexibility but less stress to the material. In addition, there will be no hazardous waste, a low amount of heat is generated, and it uses green technology. If this wasn’t all, it also requires very little water but is capable of high precision cuts and 3D shapes.

However, there are a few drawbacks you may want to consider:

How to Choose the Right Cutting Method

You need to think carefully before you decide which type of waterjet cutting process to select for your operation.

Firstly, you need to think about what materials you need to cut. How hard are they? How thick are they?

Secondly, you must consider the level of precision required. Do you need a precise cut every time, or perhaps speed is more pertinent?

Here at Kerf Developments, we offer a wide range of high-quality waterjet cutting machines that are able to cut through almost any material. If you are not sure which type of waterjet cutting machine you should invest in, all you need to do is get in touch with our knowledgeable team, and we will help you make the right decision.

Are you thinking about investing in waterjet cutting machines for your manufacturing business? Or perhaps, you already use waterjet technology but are worried about the safety and wellbeing of your team?

Either way, it is always a good idea to find out more about any dangers your employees face when using cutting tools so that you can ensure their safety when onsite.

1.   Ear Damage

Waterjet cutting machines are noisy, which can cause damage to your hearing. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause a whole host of problems, including tinnitus, hearing difficulties, and eventually deafness.

To protect your employees, make sure that you invest in high-quality ear protection equipment and that you arrange regular hearing tests for anyone who uses these tools.

2.   Eye Damage

Waterjet cutters expose the user to high pressure water jet streams, which can cause irreversible damage to the eyes in the form of corneal scratches, detachment of the retina, and, worst-case scenario, dislocation.

To avoid this type of waterjet injury, you need to make sure all your team are wearing the right type of protective equipment, including solid eye protection goggles.

The Main Hazards of Waterjet Cutting

3.   Blast Damage

A common blast injury, water blast damage to your hands can be more dangerous than you might think. While cuts and scratches are the most likely outcome, you also run the risk of cutting one of your fingers clean off.

You can even get cuts when the waterjet machine is turned off, as the slats still pose a cutting hazard.

Keep your hands safe by wearing anti-cut proof gloves at all times when handling a waterjet cutting machine.

4.   Skin Infections

Laser cutting that involves the use of abrasives can increase the risk of the operator becoming infected by small particles of metal. This can be even more dangerous if you are cutting through toxic materials, which can cause skin infections if they penetrate the skin.

Always make sure that you keep both the waterjet machines and the cutting table clean and clear from debris to minimise the risk of exposure.

5.   Life threatening injuries

As waterjet cutting is used to cut thick and hard materials, these machines are more than capable of cutting off a limb if proper care and attention are not used during application.

More commonly, deep puncture wounds and internal bleeding also occur when an operator inadvertently comes into contact with a waterjet.

ss?

It is crucial that anyone who experiences a waterjet injury receives immediate medical attention, even if there are no apparent injuries.

To avoid waterjet cutting accidents, make sure that all your staff undergoes thorough training before they operate a machine, and they are fully informed of all the safety procedures.

Our top waterjet cutting safety tips

You should always carry out regular risk assessments of the work area, wear the necessary safety PPE equipment and invest in ISO-approved impact safety goggles or glasses. If you then also provide your team with regular training, you are maintaining top safety standards.

Kerf Logo Image