Plasma Cutting

Read This Before Using a Plasma Cutter

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There are some plasma cutter safety basics that everyone should know: avoid cutting near water or other liquids. Watch out for flammable substances, and don’t cut in a space where you have lots of sawdust, hay, or general dust around. However, everyone who uses a plasma cutter will benefit from some other lesser-known tips that will save a ton of time and frustration when getting to work.

Plasma Cutting

Here’s a breakdown of some key plasma cutting tips to check out before starting your next project:

Adjust to the Speed and Effectiveness of Plasma Cutters

While a torch-cutting outfit can get the job done, a plasma cutter takes your cutting ability up a notch. However, you can really mess up a metal work piece if you aren’t ready for the power of a plasma cutter.

For instance, you may need to take account of your wider kerf when cutting. You also will need to account for the increased cutting speed you may have with a plasma cutter. Of course more speed and cutting power are all advantages you get from a plasma cutter, but you need to be ready for them before you get to work!

What You Can Cut with a Plasma Cutter

Although a plasma cutter provides a bunch of power for welders and fabricators, it also has its limits. For instance, if you take a look at the specs on a Hypertherm Powermax 45, you’ll notice that it can perform best on ½” metal, but it has a maximum cutting capacity at ¾” and a severance of 1″. That being said, welders often note that their plasma cutters have surprised them with an ability to even cut beyond their stated limits.

Perhaps the most important thing to note when it comes to what you can cut is whether the cut needs to be clean. You can always try to cut through a thicker metal than what is recommended, but the cut may not be quite as clean as you’d like.

Beware Plasma Cutting Stainless Steel

While plasma cutting requires a lot of good ventilation to begin with, you can’t be too careful when cutting stainless steel. When you cut stainless steel, it will give off fumes from the chromium and nickel in the metal. Good ventilation is just a start.

While some fabricators use specially designed water tables for cutting, there are various fume extraction systems and ventilation set ups you can look into when you’re working with stainless steel in an enclosed space. You also need a high quality respirator in order to prevent yourself from inhaling the fumes created when cutting stainless steel.

Purchase the Narrow Kerf Consumable Kit

When you need to cut thin material with a plasma cutter, you’ll burn away too much material and distort the metal if your kerf is too wide and directing too much heat into your metal. In order to better control the flow of heat for thin metal cuts, consider buying a narrow kerf consumable kit. Beginners will especially find these kits especially useful as they get used to their new plasma cutting machines.

Look Into Plasma Cutter Maintenance

Besides purchasing a plasma cutter with excellent voltage protection and other safety features, keep up with cleaning the air supply. Debris or moisture can cause issues down the line if they aren’t kept out of the air supply.

Pick Up a Circle Cutter Kit

Whether you’re cutting steel or stainless steel, sometimes you need to make precise circular cuts, and they can be a real hassle if you're cutting free hand. You’ll have a lot more success with precise circle cuts on a plasma cutter if you pick up a circle cutter kit. These kits allow you to cut circles between 4″ and 22″, and they also provide what you need for beveling with a plasma cutter.

Get a Top of the Line Plasma Cutter

Don’t take a chance on a cheaper plasma cutter that promises some savings today but could let you down when you need a reliable machine for an important project.

The Hypertherm Powermax line is one of the most popular machines among welding and fabrication shops. The Powermax 45 has a series of 5-star reviews in the Baker’s Gas and Welding online store, and comes with free shipping in addition to a hefty discount off the list price. If you want to get started with a plasma cutter, this is the machine you want to check out first in order to set the bar high for quality and customer satisfaction.

Take a look at all of the Powermax machines for sale at Bakers here!


Ed C.


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