Learning a new skill entails familiarizing yourself with brand new tools and techniques. It requires hours of practice, watching video tutorials online, attending workshops hosted by skilled artisans—information overload. Work through it one step at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. A great way to start is not by grabbing the powerful machine right away but by reading up on (1) how it works and (2) how it is used. Soon, you’ll see yourself learning the craft and doing it with ease.
Not everyone knows about the different tools you may use for crafting, welding, or building your dream house. Today, we’re shedding light on plasma cutters and how to use them. A plasma cutter works with different kinds of gas, from compressed air to argon or oxygen, to penetrate and cut through metal.
Do you remember your science classes back in the day? Most of you would remember the three states of matter, but are you still familiar with the fourth state? That’s what we’re dealing with—plasma.
Plasma is different from gas since it contains the same number of negative and positive ions. When high heat is applied to the gas and transforms into plasma, it gains a unique capability powerful enough to melt and cut through metal. When plasma is directed towards a piece of metal at a very high speed, the electrons in the plasma collide with the base metal.
What’s great about a plasma cutter is that, even though it’s such a powerful tool with a great many applications, it’s as straightforward as a machine can get. Even when you use the basic handheld model, you can easily use the torch and electric and gas inputs.
The first thing to keep in mind is that every plasma cutter needs a steady supply of dry air. Although the majority of the machines use filters to remove any dust particles or impurities from the air feed, other machines do not. Your plasma cutter, for one, requires a good compressor.
A plasma cutter runs on either 110v or 220v. Both are great choices for hobbyists who are just starting out with the craft. The 110v plasma cutter has excellent portability, making it ideal for mobile workers. However, since it only runs on 110v, there might be limitations on the thickness of the metal that you’ll be cutting.
When you finish setting up the air and plugging in the machine, you’re ready to use your plasma cutter. Just make sure that you mark the metal before you start cutting. This is to guarantee that you’re only feeding the machine what it can handle. Other machines that use 220v can cut at least ⅜” thick of metal.
Another big thing that you need to remember is cutting speed. It’s crucial to know that when the metal you want to cut is thick, the slower your cutting speed needs to be. When you move through the metal too quickly, you may not carry out your desired results.
Similar to welding, plasma cutters also need replacements to their consumables from time to time. The main thing you need to prepare to replace would be the tip of the plasma cutter.
Some of the well-known plasma cutter brands house their own supply of tips and other components that are only compatible with their products. Meanwhile, others use generic components that you can avail of at a more affordable price.
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what a plasma cutter is, it’s time to learn how to operate the machine to fit your needs.
When you plan on cutting through metal with a plasma cutter, make sure that you do this at a suitable workspace that’s safe and wide enough to avoid any welding accidents.
Make sure that you have a balanced and sturdy table in a spacious workshop. Ensure that your workspace also has enough air circulation and remove any flammable materials in the immediate vicinity.
Before you cut any metal or turn on your plasma cutter, make sure that you follow the safety rules and regulations to ensure no harm comes to you.
Follow these instructions to minimize the risk of accidents:
Depending on the machine you’ll be using, you’ll need to adjust the amperage, which is also relative to your cutting speed. For 18-gauge sheet metal, the ideal current is 25 amps. Bear in mind that the thicker the metal, the higher the amperage you’ll need.
If you plan on pursuing a career in plasma cutting, such as metal fabrication, automotive repairs, and art installations, investing in a plasma cutter would certainly do you a great deal.
Different kinds of plasma cutters are available in the market. You can find great ones that come with their own set of components for only $800 and below. Thorough research and practice go a long way, so what are you waiting for? Invest in your own plasma cutter now!