If you have ever seen someone cut metal, chances are they were likely using a plasma cutter to get the job done. But what exactly is a plasma cutter and why is it so effective at cutting metal instead of saws and other equipment? To explain, here are some facts about plasma cutters, their various parts, and the different types that are available on the market.
What Is a Plasma Cutter?
A plasma cutter, as the name suggests, is a cutter that uses plasma to cut various different types of metals. As opposed to a saw which uses brute force and power to slice through objects, a plasma cutter uses a precise and extremely hot beam of plasma. The reason for this, is that metal is a very difficult material to shape and manipulate due to its strong nature. A plasma cutter provides both the accuracy and the strength needed to cut metals that are used in a wide variety of different professions and fields.
How a Plasma Cutter Works
After applying an “electric arc” that is created by exposing a power source to an extremely pressurized gas, a 40,000 degree “plasma jet” is formed. This jet is the primary beam that is used to cut through metals.
The Parts of a Plasma Cutter
There are three main parts that make up a plasma cutter:
- Plasma Torch: This component is designed to keep the plasma positioned correctly, and to assist in lowering the heat levels of the swirl ring, nozzle, and electrode (referred to as the consumables.)
- Arc Starting Console: This component is responsible for activating a spark that produces the arc of the plasma. This is done through the creation of 5,000 VAC at 2 MHz.
- Power Supply: This component is responsible for producing a continuous voltage of 200–400VDC from an AC voltage with one or three phases. This component also keeps the plasma concentrated and adjusts the production depending on the properties of the metal being cut.
Types of Plasma Cutters
- Precision Cutters – These are the most top of the line, high quality cutters on the market. If you’re looking for cutters that produce highly accurate and precise cuts, precision cutters are the way to go. These cutters are a bit more complicated when compared to conventional cutters, as there are more components embedded into them and their designs are much more intricate. The plasma arcs within these cutters reach up to 40–50K amps per square inch. Various gases, such as nitrogen, oxygen, air of high purity, and a combination of nitrogen, hydrogen, and argon are often used in this type of cutter.
- Conventional Cutters – These are more standard, average type cutters. Every handheld cutter is considered a conventional cutter since the plasma they produce is the standard type of plasma. The opening of the nozzle in this type of cutter is almost wholly responsible for determining the form of the arc of plasma. The plasma arcs within these cutters reach up to 12–20K amps per square inch. Most often, air from the shop is used to form the plasma used in conventional cutters.
The One-Stop-Shop for All of Your Metal Related Needs
For over 90 years, Domer’s Inc. has been providing Okeechobee area businesses and residents with the highest metal-based materials, tools, and equipment on the market. Our large inventory, in combination with our state-of-the-art machine shop, and our staff’s invaluable knowledge, make us the best option for fulfilling all of your metal related needs. We also offer custom fabrications and professional metalworking services. If you would like to learn more about our product offers, or the services we provide, please give us a call at 863-763-3417.