Understanding What Plasma Cutting is All About

Blog | September 14th, 2020

Thermal cutting processes are integral to various industries since they help produce and fabricate products, especially with those that involve metal materials. These processes maximise an energy source so they can heat and liquify specific parts of a metal product. Afterward, the molten material that is liquified by this process is blown away from the solid metal.

Three thermal cutting processes that can be utilised by manufacturers and other related industries are flame cutting, plasma cutting, and laser cutting. One thermal cutting process that stands out among the three is the plasma cutting. It involves the use of an electric arc to heat, cut, and blow the molten material.

The Process of Plasma Cutting

With the help of a tungsten electrode, an electric arc can be produced at the plasma cutting torch, which then forms an accelerated jet of hot plasma that is used for cutting and melting the material. All these processes and formation are part of the plasma cutting, which boasts features and characteristics that other thermal cutting processes do not typically possess.

Before the heating process begins, the electric arc is positioned between an electrode and the workpiece. Afterward, the electrode is placed in a water- or air-cooled gas nozzle that enables it to form a narrow, high temperature, and high-velocity plasma jet. The temperature of this plasma jet may reach as high as 20,000°C, which can easily melt and remove material from a workpiece. Once the plasma jet hits the workpiece, the interaction between them will revert the gas from the electric arc to its normal state, which initiates the whole melting process of the material.

Benefits of Plasma Cutting

What is great about plasma cutting is that it can cut so much faster than traditional flame-cutting, all without compromising the quality of the cut. Unlike other thermal cutting processes, plasma cutting can cut parts for up to 500 inches per minute in any given suitable material. Another great thing about plasma cutting is that it is easy to conduct. The tools used for this type of cutting does not require advanced training requirements, making it great for industries that want to quickly switch to plasma cutting.

Cutting with plasma has been also proven to be safe and economical. The gas used in powering the electric arc is not highly flammable, which removes some of the safety hazards that are associated with other cutting procedures. Plasma cutting is likewise economical since it does not cost too much when compared to laser or even waterjet cutting.

Applications of Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutting can conduct cutting procedures to a wide range of electrically conductive alloys in any given material thickness. Some of these alloys include plain carbon and stainless steel, aluminium and its respective matching alloys, nickel alloys, and titanium. Metals that can likewise be processed under plasma cutting include brass and copper.

With its compatibility with a lot of material, many industries have now adopted plasma cutting as their main cutting process. Some industries that utilise plasma cutting include fabrication shops, automotive repair and restoration, construction, and metal scrapping centres. Even small hobbyist shops can enjoy the benefits and capabilities of plasma cutting.

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