Portable Plasma Cutter: Unleashing the Metal Artist Within

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

April 15, 2022
A metal abstract art piece of a man on a boat helping out a drowning man

You would never think of rugged and noisy machines such as plasma cutters to create intricate works of art. But plasma cutters are useful not only in construction sites and factories but also in cozy homes and galleries, the common birthplaces of heavy metal art.

Generally, plasma cutters aren't difficult to use as long as you know the basics. It's pretty straightforward—electrically heated plasma cuts through metal and steel like butter. But let's explore the exciting ways of using portable plasma cutters in the art industry.

The Big Picture: Plasma Cutting Machine Explained 

Plasma cutting is one of the most advanced cutting techniques today. You can use any conductive material such as metal, steel, copper, and brass for plasma cutting to get efficient and precise cuts for any field.

  • Trade works and contracts 
  • Farming and recycling 
  • Metal art 

How do we use a plasma cutter for metal art? The plasma cutter superheats gas (creating plasma) and blasts it through the nozzle. The nozzle is crucial in your plasma cutter machine as it produces an electric arc to make cuts.

Of course, there is a learning curve to using this machinery, but once you get past it, you can make a clean cut effortlessly.

Portable Plasma Cutting Machine Benefits 

The best plasma cutter's setting and ease of use are incredibly greater compared to an oxy-fuel cutter. For one, plasma cutters provide for diversity, allowing you to work on different types of metals. In contrast, oxy-fuel cutters can only cut through iron-containing steel. In addition, plasma cutters can cut through stacks of metal plates as if they were pancakes, while oxy-fuel cutters can only cut up to 24-inch-thick steel. 

Safety is another thing that piques artists to get portable plasma cutters since the gas used on this machine is not highly flammable. As a result, it's far less dangerous than using other cutters. 

Last but not least, a portable plasma cutter makes cutting different shapes and angles more accurate. Simple welding or torching cannot produce the same results as plasma cutting.

If you are a metal art creator or enthusiast, you should be on the lookout for these cutting-edge plasma cutters.

CUT50D 50A Air Inverter Portable Plasma Cutter with Non-touch Pilot Arc

The CUT50D 50A Air Inverter Portable Plasma Cutter features a lift-type arc start for drag starts and cutting. The closer your cutter is to the metal, the finer and more precise cuts you will get. 

You can cut sheet metals as thin as 22 gauges nicely with its lower-limit output of 20 amps. It's perfectly lightweight and powerful for any DIY workshop project.

What's interesting about this cutter is its non-touch pilot arc, which allows you to work on your metal canvass with minimal slag. It means you don't have to put your torch too close, producing a higher quality of cuts and longer consumable life.

CUT50D 50-Amp Portable Plasma Cutter

This cutter comes a tad cheaper than the CUT50D 50A Air Inverter Portable Plasma Cutter, but make no mistake: it’s no less powerful. 

Incredibly versatile and affordable, this 50-amp portable plasma cutter can go through a half-inch-thick metal in one pass when running on 240 volts. If you're working with a lower voltage—say, 100 volts—you can go up to 40 amps to cut a ¼-inch-thick plate. You can even go as low as 10 amps for thin sheet metals used for auto body works or bendable materials for rendering curves in your work. 

A man using a portable plasma cutter

Is Plasma Cutting Perfect for Your Art Project?

The metal you work on certainly affects whether or not you should try plasma cutters. Since every type of metal works for this dynamic machinery, you should consider the thickness of the metal

Apart from that, let us ask you a few more questions to help you decide if plasma cutters will work for you.

  • Do you work on the go?
  • Are you willing to switch power outlets for the cutter?
  • How often do you experience electrical current fluctuations? 
  • Are you prepared to use a generator for your plasma cutter? 

Hopefully, the list helps you narrow down your choices and find a high-quality portable plasma cutter to satisfy your artistic needs.

Cutting Techniques 

Thermal dynamics has brought to life tons of metal art pieces. But how can you, a beginner, start using this overwhelming technology? Here are some mind-blowing tips. 

Making Straight Lines 

Portable plasma cutters are heavily dependent on the skill of the welder. So if you happen to have shaky hands, cutting a straight line through the metal can be tricky.

That shouldn't be a problem. You can clamp rulers or straight edges onto the metal, so you can just easily trace and make immaculately straight lines without breaking a sweat. 

Making Precise Drawings 

Are you a metal artist just for the fun of it? You may not be as gifted as the European sculptors behind giant-sized falcons or angels, but that's perfectly fine. We all start somewhere, and it always begins with templates.

Metal artists use projectors to cast their desired templates onto the metal. Depending on how near or far your projector is, you can resize your projected templates. Of course, if you don't have a fancy projector, you can use wooden templates, but these are one size only. 

If you didn't know how to draw a bear on your metal sheet back then, now you do! 

Making Smaller, Cleaner Cuts 

It is important that every plasma cutter, portable or not, has its consumables properly maintained and changed every so often. You can make cleaner and far more precise cuts with new nozzles and tips than with burnt-out ones. 

In addition, double-check if your consumables are compatible with your plasma cutter and can handle the amps. If you're cutting at 50 amps and your consumables can only withstand up to 30 amps, you'll burn through them more quickly.

Making Longer Cuts 

Most artists always make a sketch or light drawing first before making a definite stroke on paper. The same practice applies to plasma cutting.

Dry runs can give you an idea of how far along you'd have to reach when cutting. Because if you happen to stop in the middle of cutting your metal, the cut would be uneven. 

If you end up with a small hole where you restarted the cutting, just fill it in with a tack weld and grind it back.

Metal flower using plasma cutting

Be a Metal Artist with Welding Buddy

The portable plasma cutter machine has allowed metal artists to create innovative art pieces that take our breath away. The technology may still be fairly new to some, but it's never too late to start using one.

If you're just starting on your metal artistry, we're here to help you get the best knowledge and techniques. Learn more about the infinite uses of welding and plasma cutting machines with Welding Buddy.

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