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.

If you want your plasma cutting machine to continue to perform at its best, you need to make sure that it is well maintained. From cleaning the torch body to checking the water quality to adjusting the gears and bearings, keep reading to find out everything you should be doing to prolong the life of your CNC plasma cutters and reduce the likelihood of it breaking down.

Clean the torch body

You need to make sure that you remove all the torch parts and examine the inside of the torch to ensure that there is no damage. You should also clean the inside of the torch using an electrical contact cleaner and a cotton swab and blow out any accumulated metal dust.

Clean the power supply

Metal dust can accumulate in the power supply of profile cutting machines which can lead to damaged components, particularly PC boards, so you must take the time to blow out any metal dust. You should also check the air filters and replace, if needed.

How to Maintain Your Plasma Cutting Machine 16

Clean the torch leads

Again, metal dust and dirt can accumulate in a torch lead, so you need to make sure you clean these thoroughly. Also, check for kinked or worn down hoses, exposed wires and cracked fittings.

Check the torch-cooling components

For water-cooled torches, you need to check the coolant stream for signs of aspirated air or reduced coolant flow. Also, check the coolant filters and pump screens and clean or replace, when necessary.

Check the water quality

Hard water can cause a whole host of problems, including reducing the lifespan of CNC plasma cutters and increasing the need for spare parts. You can use a commercial water softener if the water hardness exceeds 8.5ppm or 0.5 grains.

How to Maintain Your Plasma Cutting Machine 17

Check the plasma gas

If you want to continue to enjoy a clean cut and a fast cutting speed, you need to make sure that you regularly check your machine’s gas quality. You can do this by holding a clean towel under the torch whilst purging air through the system in test mode. You should also check for water, oil, mist, and particle contamination.

Clean all the components

You should clean all the machine components such as the rails, gears and racks using a degreasing agent and an abrasive pad. You should lubricate both the gears and racks but not the rails, as this can attract contaminants that cause excessive wear.

How to Maintain Your Plasma Cutting Machine 18

Align and adjust gears and bearings

The gears on your plasma cutting machine should not overlap above or below the rack. If they do, you need to adjust them accordingly. You also need to make these adjustments for rail and cross drives.

Other key maintenance tasks:

If you need further help and advice on how to carry for your plasma cutting machine or you need a new cutting system and aren’t too sure about which one to get, contact us here, and we will be only too happy to help.

Not sure whether you should be using a plasma cutter or a laser cutter for your metal cutting needs? It can be difficult to know which one you need, but you don’t have to guess. You have come to the right place to understand exactly which one you need.

Within the below blog, you will discover:

Ready to get started?

What is plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting is a process that uses compressed air and inert gases such as hydrogen and nitrogen that are passed through a fine nozzle at high speed to create electrically conductive ionised gas, also known as plasma.

Plasma cutting machines are often used on metals that cannot be cut with a flame-based cutting machine.

Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting: Which is Best? 19

What is laser cutting?

Laser cutting machines use high powered lasers that are operated by a computer along with nitrogen, oxygen or compressed air to cut through a variety of different metals. These machines are designed for multi-purpose use.

What is the difference between these two cutting processes?

The plasma cutting process is used exclusively for cutting metal such as stainless steel and aluminium. This includes metals that have a reflective surface that cannot be cut using a laser cutting system.

Laser cutting machines can be used for many other purposes than just cutting, including trimming, scribing, welding and engraving.

Plasma cutters are better suited to cutting work that involves thicker metals, whereas laser cutting is the superior choice for thinner, more intricate metals.

Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting: Which is Best? 20

What are the benefits of plasma cutting?

A plasma cutting machine offers:

What are the benefits of laser cutting?

A laser cutting machine offers:

Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting: Which is Best? 21

Is laser cutting or plasma cutting better?

There is no definitive answer to this question as each method of cutting materials is unique, and each one comes with its own advantages. Lasers offer more accuracy and are slightly quicker than plasma cutting machines, yet plasma cutting has the ability to cut through every single metal type, which a laser cutting cannot.

It is clear that both plasma and laser cutting have their place within the cutting industry, with each cutting process bringing its own benefits to the table. When deciding which type of cutting machine to use, take some time to think about what you need cutting and how thick it is, as this is ultimately what will lead your decision.

Need help choosing a plasma cutting machine for your cutting needs? Contact us here, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team will talk you through our plasma cutting options and help you pick the right solution for your business.

If you are a metal worker, you are probably already aware of the process of oxy fuel cutting, but maybe you are not entirely sure how it works. Used in both heavy and light industrial operations, the oxy fuel cutting process has been a popular choice for cutting steel for decades and still remains very much in use today despite new developments within the industry.

So, what exactly is oxy fuel cutting, and how does it work?

Keep reading to find out.

What is Oxy Fuel?

In 1903, two French engineers developed the process of oxygen-acetylene welding. When using pure oxygen instead of air, one can boost the temperature of a flame significantly, and when paired with acetylene propane, the flame can burn at around 3,500 Celsius or 6,332 Fahrenheit. Through localised melting, with the use of a torch, the material can be welded or cut at room temperature.

Oxygen-fuel processes can be carried out using a variety of different fuel gases, including propylene, liquified petroleum gas and hydrogen. In oxy-fuel systems, oxygen is not the fuel itself but what chemically combines with the fuel to produce heat. This process is known as oxidation.

Although The Cut Quality Is Not As Clean As Plasma Cutting Oxy Fuel Cutting Is Cost-effective & Provides A Portable Way To Cut Steel With No Electricity

How does Oxy Fuel Cutting Work?

Considered to be the most effective method for cutting steel, during the oxy fuel cutting process, you must preheat mild steel with a cutting torch prior to cutting it. The steel needs to reach an ignition temperature of around 960 °C, or 1760 °F, before it is ready to be cut.

Once the steel has reached the appropriate temperature, the heated part receives oxygen via a nozzle. There is then a reaction between the oxygen and the iron (to form iron oxide), which transforms the heated metal into liquid steel.

The waste matter’s melting point is not as high as the melting point that is occurring in the steel, so the oxygen stream is able to eliminate the waste matter without disrupting the stainless steel. While this is going on, a process called the exothermic reaction cuts the steel whilst the cutting torch does its job also.

As the steel is constantly hot during the oxy fuel cutting process, this method of welding and cutting is not suitable for most metals; however, it is ideal for cutting low carbon steel.

Oxy Fuel Cutting Process Has Been A Popular Choice For Cutting Steel For Decades & Remains Very Much In Use Today Despite New Developments Within The Industry.

Why Choose Oxy Fuel Cutting?

Oxy fuel cutting machines are what you need if you want to cut through a thick wall (up to 24 inches thick). That is roughly 1,200% thicker than what plasma cutters can accommodate. Although the cut quality is not as clean as with plasma cutting and the cutting speed is slower, oxy fuel cutting is highly cost-effective and provides a portable way to cut steel as no electricity is required. All you need is a few gas tanks and a torch, and you can cut anywhere!

Need help choosing the right oxy fuel cutting machine for your business? From small single-head machines right up to large multi-head ones, when it comes to oxy fuel cutting, we have got you covered.

Contact us here for more information.

Kerf Developments has been building plasma, oxy-fuel and waterjet cutting machines since 2002.

Kerf Developments And Lantek Collaboration Delivers Industry Leading Plasma Technology 22

The company originally started as a service-based organisation, repairing and upgrading a broad range of profile cutting machinery. It was the experiences gained working on such a varied range of equipment that formed the basis of the current machine range.  Dan Taylor, Managing Director, explains the transition to machine building, “We have a considerable amount of experience in the industry and we could see which machine configurations gave the best and most reliable performance. The machines that we build here in the workshop in Rochdale have been designed by our team of engineers which, with Kerf being completely independent, means that we can select best in class products for our turnkey solutions from leading global partners such as Lincoln Electric and Burny.”

In addition to offering a standard range of profile cutting machines, Kerf works with its customers to specify a bespoke machine that matches their own individual application. They design and build machines up to 4m wide with a combination of plasma and oxy-fuel heads and of any length.  The smallest machine the company have supplied has a working area of 2.5mx 1.25m. The largest has a huge working area of 40m x 4m with multiple bridges.

A choice of plasma systems can be supplied with the machines ranging in cut capability from 1mm right the way through to 90mm. For oxy-fuel applications machines can cut up to 150mm thick as standard or considerably more if the application requires it.

As part of their continued development, Kerf needed to evaluate the capabilities of various CADCAM and nesting systems as this was becoming an ever-increasing requirement from its customers. Following evaluation of several of the leading systems the one that came out on top for the engineering team at Kerf was the Lantek Expert system. 

As a world leader in software for the sheet metal and fabrication sector Lantek now has over 24,800 customers in over 100 countries and 20 offices in 14 countries.  Its Expert software is supported by a team of engineers in the UK and is developed at the company’s Technological Excellence Centre in Bilbao, Spain. For Kerf Developments, Lantek has trained Kerf’s engineers so that they can provide training and first line support. Dan Taylor says, “All our field service engineers have a copy of Lantek Expert software as part of their toolbox so that they can provide an instant response to any queries. Lantek provides regular and valuable updates to the software and are always on hand to provide online support to fine tune systems to work in line with our customers’ needs.”

For offline programming of the cutting machines, CAD data can be imported directly into Lantek Expert, parts nested on the material to optimise usage and the cutting path automatically created, providing a very fast and simple way of keeping the machine running, achieving high productivity levels and short delivery times.

Kerf Developments And Lantek Collaboration Delivers Industry Leading Plasma Technology 23

As part of the collaboration, Lantek has worked closely with the engineering team at Kerf to perfect its UltraSharp technology which delivers high quality parts with a square edge, better quality edges and 1:1 hole sizes, for example, a 5mm hole in 5mm material, a capability which would previously have been impossible on a plasma machine. For the user, this capability makes it possible to use much lower cost plasma technology rather than laser technology to manufacture parts and is especially effective for thicker components. Dan Taylor adds, “The UltraSharp technology involves internally enhanced software protocols, accelerating and decelerating the torch dynamics on tight contours and holes, controlling the power, gas pressure and flow, amongst other things, and also automatically selecting special lead in and lead out configurations. The result is a constant and true arc with no lag between the top and bottom of the material being cut. All the parameters required to achieve this are built into our technology tables making it easy to achieve high quality components direct from the CAD data.”

 

One of Kerf Developments’ customers, Pressed Flights based in Littleborough, manufactures screw conveyors.  The shape of the screw in its flat state is complex and, in many cases, varies along the length of the screw depending on the material being transported. 

 

Previously, these parts were subcontracted for laser and waterjet cutting. Now, the company has a Kerf RUR2500p machine with UltraSharp cutting technology and Lantek’s software and carries out all the cutting in house achieving ± 0.25mm general tolerance. Mark Cryer, Managing Director at Pressed Flights says, “It is one of the best investments we have made. We transfer CAD data directly into Lantek, nest the parts for best yield, easily and quickly generating the CNC program. The Kerf UltraSharp plasma is very reliable producing augers which are spot on in size, it is a vital part of our operation. After sales service is excellent from both companies.”

Kerf Developments And Lantek Collaboration Delivers Industry Leading Plasma Technology 24

Dan Taylor concludes, “The 14-year collaboration with Lantek has enabled us to deliver industry leading technology to our customers as part of our turnkey machine packages configured to meet the demands of each client’s business. Our focus is on providing excellent service, as it has been from the start. Lantek has the same mindset making it a valuable partner for the delivery of a full process offering.”

To learn more about Lantek follow this link: www.lanteksms.com   

18th September 2020The past four decades has seen considerable development in the metal cutting process with a range of oxy-fuelplasmawaterjet and laser cutting machines able to cut materials from 1mm galvanised sheet through to 300mm thick mild steel. Each process has its role to play in the cost-effective manufacture of a wide range of products.

Kerf Developments, the Rochdale based manufacturer, has launched a 2020 Version of the highly acclaimed UltraSharp plasma cutting technology.


Kerf Cuts Into New Technology 25

The cutting technology provides a cost-effective alternative to laser cutting for many applications. The UltraSharp technology intelligently utilises material databases to calculate the most appropriate cutting strategy, identifying the most suitable speeds and feeds, gas pressures and applying the most appropriate lead-in lead-out strategies.

Calculating and combining all these strategies, UltraSharp offers customers high cutting speeds, consistent cut quality, excellent edge finish and downstream productivity benefits. Improving up, what as Kerf states, is already considered the best technology available.


RUR 2500 image of machine cutting metal

The RUR2500 is an extremely popular and cost effective Plasmaster 3015 profiling machine. Initially launched at MACH 2016, the Plasmaster is a compact machine that enables Kerf to bridge the gap between the high-end RUR machines and the refurbished machines the Rochdale company supplies. Significantly with new technology since its introduction, the enhanced Plasmaster 3015 targets smaller businesses wanting to cut everything from thin materials such as ductwork through to heavy duty fabricators needing to cut thicker materials up to 25mm. Kerf has created a robust, efficient and productive machine that appeals to a range of manufacturers.

Finance for the entire product range is available through Kerf Developments long standing partner; Finance for Business.

Tel: 01706 757 670

sales@kerdevelopments.com

www.kerf.flywheelstaging.com

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