Plasma cutting is the process that involves the melting and expelling of materials cut by a jet of ionized gas at a temperature of above 20,000 degrees Celsius. It consists of an electric arc that is struck between the anode and the cathode, which are the electrodes present. The machine used in this process is called a plasma cutter, plasma cutter machine, plasma arc, or plasma gun.
A plasma cutter is an industrial welding machine for cutting thick and thin metals that are conductive. This article will discuss how the machine works, its applications, types, advantages, and disadvantages, especially in welding.
Working principle of a plasma cutting machine
Plasma is the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas. Heated gases usually get ionized and turn into plasma after becoming electrically conductive. A plasma cutter uses extremely high pressure to force gases like nitrogen, oxygen, argon, etc., to pass through the tiny nozzle orifice torch.
The plasma cutting machine also produces an electric arc from the supply of external power. The arch meets the gas flowing to achieve extreme temperatures of 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit after heating. The heated flowing plasma is usually known as the plasma jet.
The plasma jet has a high temperature which enables it to cut through various metals. Plasma cutters make obvious and faster cuts than other metal cutting machines, although their performance varies.
Applications of a plasma cutting machine
1. Used in industrial welding applications as CNC plasma cutting to profiles into larger metals sheets.
2. Used in repairing the vehicle’s metallic parts.
3. Used at-home residents to complete renovation tasks.
Types of a plasma cutter
There are two types of plasma cutter, namely;
1. Manual Vs. Automatic
A manual plasma cutter is a plasma cutter that is usually small, and you can hold it in your hand. They are perfect for cutting minor metals present in light works; hence, they are most commonly used in garages, homes, etc.
However, an automatic plasma cutter is usually mounted on tables for metal cutting and is operated by a computer. They are suitable for industrial applications due to their large size, which makes them handle massive operations.
2. Conventional Vs. Precision
Conventional plasma cutters are plasma cutters that are shaped like nozzles orifice and have a 12 to 20k amp per square inch. Like manual plasma cutters, they are handheld and usually produce plasma jets using shop air.
Precision plasma cutters, on the other hand, produce very smooth and sharp cuts due to their complexity and high technology level. Industrial welders usually use precision plasma cutters in their large applications to cut bug metals.
Advantages of plasma cutting
1. Plasma cutters help in cutting the metals faster, thus reducing the distortion risk of the metals.
2. Plasma cutters are simple and easy to maintain since they do not require frequent replacement.
3. It helps in drawing shapes and curves which need to connect at a precise beam.
4. It is compatible and versatile in many different materials.
1. Plasma cutting produces excess fumes and causes noise pollution.
2. Some of the plasma cutters are not suitable for materials that are denser or thicker.
3. It may incur many costs even though it is cheaper than oxy-fuel.
A Plasma cutting machine has enhanced the achievement of various industrial applications, especially in welding, where the welders use it in cutting hard metals to achieve the required shapes and curves.