Myths Of Plasma Cutting

July 14, 2014
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plasma

…debunking the myths about the plasma cutting process…

Since it’s accidental invention in the 1950’s and the proliferation of a much urban legend and misinformation about the plasma cutting process, it has become necessary at the outset of any discussion about the topic to do away with the wealth of prevarication surrounding the process. To begin with, here are six myths, the contradiction of are core to an adequate understanding of plasma cutting:…

Myth 1: plasma is expensive

— it is essential to understand the difference between price and cost; whilst the price of a plasma cutting system might appear uncompetitive in the face of other cutting systems, the cost of production, in terms of material, time/labour, error and pre-manufacture process efficiencies make plasma a highly-cost-efficient fabrication option.

Myth 2: plasma is only for use on thin materials

— continuous regular programmes of research and development have turned this conception around since it was a truism twenty years ago – these days particularly with fixed-mount torch systems, advances in the design of torches, consumables, and power supplies have allowed plasma engineers to deliver systems that provide more cutting power and thicker cutting capacity – as much even as system sizes have shrunk and duty cycles have climbed.

Myth 3: plasma is only for use on stainless steel

— many plasma system users purchase their first plasma system to cut stainless steel, aluminium or other nonferrous metals. Some operators continue to believe that plasma can only be used on these materials. In truth, plasma is effective at cutting any electrically conductive metal and is actually one of the world’s most common methods for cutting mild steel, painted, dirty or even rusted steel.

Myth 4: plasma is for cutting only

— plasma systems are highly versatile cutting tools – they cut, pierce and bevel electrically conductive metals of all types, shapes, and sizes and some systems are also very effective gouging tools. With a simple change of the torch and/or consumables, some plasma systems can switch between hand cutting and automated cutting. Plasma systems also can be used on X-Y cutting tables, on robotic arms, with a track burner for effective long, straight cuts or with pipe cutting and bevelling tools.

Myth 5: plasma cannot be used in the field

— Plasma systems require power and a gas source to operate, which implies that plasma can be used only in a production facility, shop, or other location where fixed power and air are readily available. But, today’s leading plasma systems incorporate technology that
enables them to deliver full performance when running off an appropriately sized motor generator, combined with a portable air compressor or compressed air tank. And, the small size and light weight of the latest inverter-based plasma systems makes them easy to transport from the shop to the field. Note, too, that taking systems that run on compressed air into the field does not require transporting flammable gases such as those required for oxyacetylene cutting.

Myth 6: plasma is difficult to use

— while the underlying technology of a plasma system may seem complicated, using today’s advanced plasma systems is not. Even a first-time plasma operator can achieve good quality results within minutes of picking up a plasma torch for the first time. With air plasma systems, there are no gases to regulate, and with features like nozzle shielding, operators do not need to hold a standoff. Lack of a standoff makes cutting easier as operators can drag the tip of the torch directly along the workpiece, and they can use pre-cut templates, too. Ergonomically designed torch handles and quick-connect torch leads further enhance ease of use.

Should any of these misleading ideas be a concern of yours, CNC Dynamix’s technical staff are standing by to guide you towards your optimal cutting solution.