How to Operate a Plasma Cutting Machine?

Thinking about purchasing CNC plasma cutters but are worried about how they need to be operated?

While using a plasma cutter for the first time may seem like a daunting process, the plasma cutting process is actually fairly straightforward, and you will be amazed at the high quality finish that they deliver.

What is plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting offers a highly efficient and cost effective way to cut steel and any other metal that conducts electricity. Using DC voltage to heat compressed air to a very high temperature, plasma cutting machines then ionise the atoms to create a pilot arc.

It is this small jet of plasma that pushes through and melts the metal, resulting in a precise cut edge and superior finish. 

How to set up plasma cutting machines

Using plasma cutting machines is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is follow the below steps.

  1. Connect your plasma cutter to your chosen air compressor.
  2. Connect your plasma cutter to either a 240V or 415V supply. This will be dependent on how powerful a machine you bought.
  3. Connect the earth lead to your workpiece
  4. Connect your plasma torch to the cutting machine
  5. Select your cutting amperage – the thicker the material, the higher amperage needed
  6. Press the switch on your torch handle and move the torch across the work as the electric arc cuts the metal.

You can choose to start from the edge of the piece or make a hole in the middle of the metal. Plasma cutting machines are capable of cutting through both thin and thick materials, and you can cut different sizes and shapes using templates.

In terms of ease of use, plasma cutting machines are hand held and have no heavy gas bottles that you need to transport around. They can be easily placed on the cutting table and carried from one work space to another.  

Plus, if you have a large work order and need to cut outside of normal working hours, plasma cutters can be computer controlled, so less power is needed, and you can still expect a high quality, precise cut.

How to cut at the right speed

If you cut too slow, your plasma arc machine may start to splutter. However, if you cut too fast, you may experience a poor cut quality and a blowback of dross.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are cutting at the right speed. To determine this, when you are cutting from the edge of the material, you need to ensure that the metal has been fully cut through and that the dross is coming out at a maximum of a 10-20 degree angle.

If the angle starts to increase and gets close to a 45-degree angle, you need to slow down your cutting speed. If you are struggling to get a precise and clean cut, you may need to increase your amperage.

Not sure which plasma cutting machine to buy for your business? Contact us here and we will talk you through your cutting needs and plasma cutting options.

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