Everything You Need to Know About Plasma Cutters.
Plasma cutters are precision tools used to cut metals. Using a plasma cutter for your project will make the task easier and help you achieve accurate results. However, most people are not ready to spend an arm and a leg to purchase plasma cutters for a small project. If you wonder whether you should buy plasma cutters for your small project, you will be glad to know that you can use these precision cutters for money. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about plasma cutters.
What is a Plasma Cutter?
To understand what a plasma cutter is, we should start by learning more about plasma. Plasma is a state of matter. Although we commonly think there are only three states of matter, the reality is that matter changes from one state to the other when energy such as heat is introduced. The three states of matter most individuals know are solid, liquid and gas.
Applying new energy to matter will change its state. For instance, water will change from its solid state, ice to its liquid form when the heat is applied. It will then change from liquid to gas when the heat is continuously applied. If the heat levels increase again, the gases will be ionized and become electrically conductive, forming a plasma.
Plasma cutters offer a faster and cleaner cutting process than oxyfuel. A plasma cutter can be used to cut any plasma material. It works by transferring energy from a power source using the electrically conductive gas. The energy is transferred to a conductive material leading to a cleaner and faster process.
The Components of a Plasma System
Let us look at the components of a plasma system below:
- Power Supply
The plasma power supply converts three-phase or single-phase AC line voltage into constant DC of about 200 to 400vdc. Converting the AC line voltage into the DC voltage maintains the plasma arc during the cutting process. DC voltage also controls the required current output according to the thickness and material type.
- Arc Starting Console
Also known as, ACS, the arc starting console produces an alternating current of about 5,000VAC at 2MHz. It creates a spark in the plasma torch to form the plasma arc.
- Plasma Torch
The plasma torch cools the consumables and keeps them aligned. The nozzle, swirl ring, and electrodes are the main consumables parts required to generate the plasma arc. You can choose to use a shielding cap to improve the quality of the cut.
Types of Plasma Cutting System
Plasma cutting tools are grouped into two categories, conventional and precision cutters. Let us look at the two types of plasma cutting tools below:
- Conventional Plasma Cutting Systems
These plasma cutting tools use shop air as the plasma gas. The nozzle’s orifice characterizes conventional plasma cutting tools. Almost all handheld plasma cutters use this type of systems. It is also used in mechanical applications with forgiving part tolerances. The arc for this type of system is around 12-20K amps per square inch.
- Precision Plasma Systems
Also known as high current density, precision cutting systems produce sharp and high-quality cuts. These systems have more complex consumable designs and torch than conventional plasma cutting systems. The shape is more shaped, thanks to the included complex and additional pieces. Precision plasma systems have an arc of about 40-50K amps per square inch. These systems use nitrogen, oxygen, high purity air, hydrogen, and argon as the plasma gas.
What are the Uses of a Plasma Cutter?
Now that you know, what a plasma cutter is and how it works, let us look at the uses of a plasma cutter:
- Metal Artwork
Are you a metal artist? You can use plasma cutters in your metal artwork. These tools will allow you to achieve precise and intricate shapes. Moreover, you can also use plasma cutters to make templates and stencils for your creative work.
- Trade work
Since most plasma, cutters are portable, trade workers and contractors can use plasma cutters to save time and money in their field. Some contractors who can use these cutters include HVAC contractors, general, sub-contractors, and fabrications.
- Metal Repairs
These cutters make it easy to remove broken and crappy welds. Plasma cutters will save your time and money compared to other types of cutters.
- CNC Plasma Cutting
Also known as Computer Numerical Control, CNC plasma cutting creates precise cuts on tubes, metal sheets, and chunks of metal.