Whoever reading this article must have or will soon own a powerful plasma cutter to cut hard metals, right?
However, with such a modern and powerful machine, the assembly stage is not easy at all, especially for beginners.
In this article, I will guide you on how to set up a plasma cutter step by step so that you can get both productivity and safety.
Keep reading to learn!
Table of Contents
- What Is A Plasma Cutter And What Are iIts Uses?
- How Does A Plasma Cutter Work?
- How To Set Up A Plasma Cutter
- Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Plasma Cutter
- The Different Types Of Plasma Cutters
- What air pressure should a plasma cutter be set at?
- Does a plasma cutter need a ground?
- Can I use a plasma cutter without gas?
- What thickness of metal can a plasma cutter cut?
- Do I need to wear a welding helmet when using a plasma cutter?
- How thick of steel can a 50 amp plasma cutter cut?
- Do I need gas for a plasma cutter?
What Is A Plasma Cutter And What Are iIts Uses?
A plasma cutter is a tool that uses a high-velocity stream of ionized gas to cut through metal. Plasma cutters are used in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, and shipbuilding. They can be used to cut through thick or thin metal sheets, as well as pipes and other cylindrical objects. Plasma cutters are also sometimes used to create patterns or designs on metal surfaces.
How Does A Plasma Cutter Work?
A plasma cutter works by using an electrical arc to ionize a gas. This creates a plasma, which is a conductive gas that can carry an electric current. The plasma is then forced through a narrow opening, such as the tip of a torch, at high speeds. The high-velocity stream of plasma cuts through the metal as it passes through.
How To Set Up A Plasma Cutter
Step 1: Things to bear in mind before operating a plasma cutter
- Examine the leading rails regularly to make sure that it is clean and dry.
- Apply grease on couplings for smooth operation.
- The airflow must be enough to run a plasma cutting machine. Your air pipe should be at least 12mm.
To warrant the airflow, you can cut down on the length of the gas wire while increasing its radius. Alternatively, I recommend using air compressors or pressure vessels.
- When pushing the compressed air into the plasma cutter, it must have a water and oil separator, or a screw machine with a water and oil system.
If there is water or oil in the air pipe, it will get dirty and can not ignite. In this case, you will need to remove the cutting tube and the electrode to clean and re-install later. Also turn off the plasma power to reset before operating again.
- Take the Y-axis in parallel and push it to the head of the plasma cutter. When the machine reaches the stroke peak, turn off the control source and pull the X-axis hand to the latch point to take parallel.
Turn on the power and push the X-axis up. If your machine does not run, press and hold the Reset button. Then you should push the arrow to move through the handle before releasing the Reset button.
Step 2: Prepare to use a Plasma cutter
You must check the cutting torch carefully before using your plasma cutting machine. It must be straight and perpendicular to the cutting table so that the cut with the electrode can be used and handled promptly.
Next, you should fasten the cutting torch to the shelf. This is to avoid deviant cuts, which can directly affect the quality of the cutting lines.
A cooling fan and a nozzle to quickly cool down the metal after the cut is optional.
Step 3: Set up the Airflow
Connect the external air compressor to the plasma cutter to ensure that the stream of plasma is always under high pressure.
To attach the fittings, you have to recede the outer flange of the negative (-) connection and insert the positive (+) connection.
Turn on the airflow by turning the lever ninety degrees from the position perpendicular to the air pipe to be inline.
Step 4: Adjust the cutting head height reasonably
The plasma ray has the shape of a drop of water in the center, so if you put the cutting head too near or too far away from the metal, it will tilt your workpiece.
Once the cutting head is at a suitable height in comparison with the surface of the material, your workpiece will be straight or not tilted much (under 3 degrees).
The problem is how to know which height is appropriate? To solve this question, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the plasma power supply.
Depending on the type and thickness of the target material, you can select the appropriate cutter types and set parameters as shown in the Cut Chart.
Install a THC (torch height controller) to maintain the cutting head height automatically.
If your plasma cutter does not have a THC equipment, the cutting line will be uneven, and the cutting edges will be quickly damaged.
(Because of the distance from the cutting head to the unstable material, there will be too many cutting heads near the material, then the melted metal part flowing from the cutting line will splash and stick to damage the cutting edge).
After setting the parameters according to the Cut chart, you can cut and watch your workpiece to fine-tune the cutting head height if necessary (use the THC unit).
Step 5: Choose the cutting direction
The compressed air will blow from the cutting head in a spiral shape from left to right, so the right side of the cut will always be less prone to the left side.
Therefore, always select the cutting direction so that the main part of your product (the heat-affected zone) is on the right side of the cutting direction and the wasted part is on the left.
Remember to set the metal on the table and attach the ground clamp close to where you will cut with your plasma torch.
Step 6: Operating your Plasma cutter
Make sure that the electrical charge is off before plugging it in for an electrical charge.
On average, you should set the current amperage to 25 for an 18-mm piece of metal.
Turn on the machine by flipping the switch behind the unit into the ON position.
Completing this step means that you have done setting up your plasma cutter. Let’s press the trigger and cut the metal now.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Plasma Cutter
If you’re thinking about purchasing a plasma cutter, or if you already have one, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your machine. Here are four tips to help you make the most of your plasma cutter:
1. Use the correct consumables
One of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your plasma cutter is to use the correct consumables. Each type of metal requires specific consumables in order to cut it effectively. Using the wrong consumables can not only decrease the quality of your cuts, but it can also damage your machine.
2. Use compressed air
Another way to get the most out of your plasma cutter is to use compressed air. Compressed air helps to cool the cutting tip and prolongs the life of your consumables. It also helps to improve the quality of your cuts.
3. Use a proper work surface
When you’re using your plasma cutter, it’s important to have a proper work surface. A work surface that’s too soft can cause your machine to bob and weave, which can lead to inaccuracies in your cuts. A work surface that’s too hard can cause your machine to bounce, which can also lead to inaccuracies. The best way to find a happy medium is to use a piece of plywood or MDF as your work surface.
4. Follow manufacturer’s instructions
Finally, one of the best ways to get the most out of your plasma cutter is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Each machine is different, and each has its own specific set of instructions. By following these instructions, you can be sure that you’re using your machine correctly and safely.
The Different Types Of Plasma Cutters
There are many different types of plasma cutters on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular types:
1. Portable Plasma Cutters:
As the name suggests, these plasma cutters are designed for portability and can be easily carried around. They are ideal for use in tight spaces or for quick jobs that don’t require a lot of power. However, they usually don’t have the same cutting power as larger units and may not be suitable for thicker materials.
2. Benchtop Plasma Cutters:
These plasma cutters are larger and more powerful than portable units, but they are still relatively compact and can be easily stored on a workbench or table. They are perfect for more heavy-duty projects that require more power.
3. CNC Plasma Cutters:
These plasma cutters are computer-controlled and can be programmed to cut very precise shapes. They are often used in manufacturing and industrial applications where accuracy is critical. However, they can be expensive and may not be suitable for hobbyists or those who only need to occasional use a plasma cutter.
4. High-Definition Plasma Cutters:
These plasma cutters produce a narrower and more focused beam of plasma, which allows for greater precision when cutting. They are often used in applications where extremely tight tolerances are required, such as in the aerospace industry. However, they can be very expensive and may not be necessary for most home or hobby applications.
5. Inverter Plasma Cutters:
These plasma cutters use an inverter to generate the plasma, which makes them more efficient and allows for a smaller and lighter unit. They are often used in portable applications where weight is a consideration. However, they may not be as powerful as some of the other types of plasma cutters and may not be suitable for thicker materials.
No matter what your needs are, there is a type of plasma cutter that will suit you. It is important to do your research and choose the right one for your specific application.
What air pressure should a plasma cutter be set at?
Most plasma cutters will require an air pressure of around 60-70 psi. Check your specific model’s requirements to be sure.
Does a plasma cutter need a ground?
Yes, all plasma cutters must be properly grounded in order to work safely. This helps to prevent electrical shock and other hazards.
Can I use a plasma cutter without gas?
No, you will need to have an inert gas (usually nitrogen or argon) hooked up to your plasma cutter in order for it to work. This gas helps to protect the cutting area from oxidation and other damage.
What thickness of metal can a plasma cutter cut?
This will depend on the model of plasma cutter you are using, but most cutters can handle materials up to 1/2 inch thick. Some higher-end models may be able to cut materials up to 1 inch thick.
Do I need to wear a welding helmet when using a plasma cutter?
Yes, you should always wear a welding helmet or other type of eye protection when using a plasma cutter. The bright light generated by the cutting process can be damaging to your eyes if you’re not properly protected.
How thick of steel can a 50 amp plasma cutter cut?
The maximum cutting thickness will depend on the specific model of plasma cutter, but is typically between 1/2 inch and 1 inch.
Do I need gas for a plasma cutter?
Yes, most plasma cutters require an inert gas, such as argon or nitrogen, in order to operate. Some newer models, however, may not require gas. Be sure to check the specifications of your particular model before using it.
It is no secret that plasma cutters are one of the most popular cutting tools in the market. This is because they offer a number of benefits, such as precision and speed. If you are looking to purchase a plasma cutter, it is important to set up the machine correctly.
Finally, I have guided you on how to set up a plasma cutter in 6 steps. However, apart from setting up the machine, you should also care about other parameters such as types of material, the thickness of metal, cutting patterns, etc.
Thanks for reading!