A Quick Guide to Running Your Plasma Cutter Optimally at Home
Whether for home repair or as a hobby, the introduction of the plasma cutter has made DIY steel and metal work from home far more accessible to the everyday handyman.
This nifty device comes in a handheld variety, ideal for at home renovation work – or even on the move. When you make use of a plasma cutter the right way- you can have cleanly cut metal materials faster than ever. Here’s what you need to know to run your plasma cutter from home.
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Running Your Plasma Cutter Optimally at Home
A plasma cutter really is any tradesman’s dream. This gadget makes use of a high-powered jet of hot plasma, allowing you to easily and affordably cut into any conductive material.
Plasma cutters are generally pretty easy to learn and use, still it’s important to check your preparations and power capabilities before cutting. Follow this quick guide to make sure you’ve followed all the steps and checks to an ideal plasma cutter setup at home.
The technology around plasma cutters has been around since the 1950s. Much larger, mechanized plasma cutters are already used in many industries. Now, you can even buy handheld plasma cutters which are great for use at home.
Your ideal plasma cutter ‘kit’ will come with a power supply, Arc start console and a plasma torch. While most modern models have a 3-phase input, some varieties even offer both a 1- and a 3-phase input.
Hand-held plasma cutter setups will come with a torch and an electric gas input. The most important factor with each model is ensuring a steady supply of clean, dry air.
What You Need for a Plasma Cutter Setup at Home
- Solid Power Supply
The most common varieties of plasma cutters take a power input of between 110v and 220v. These varieties are ideal for an at home setup and are highly portable. Larger varieties will require a higher voltage.
For a general rule of thumb, make sure to check your user manual to ensure the correct power supply.
When cutting thicker steels and metals, your plasma cutter will draw between 40 to 50 amps, so a solid power supply is essential.
- Air Compressor
The air compressor is a very important factor as this is what generates the pressure for the plasma. Some models actually come with a built-in air compressor.
- Moisture Filter
A moisture filter is recommended, especially for cutters which are used frequently. A moisture filter will ensure a flow of clean air which is vital for optimal cutter use.
- Grinder/ Wire Wheel
This again, is merely recommended. Plasma cutters work best on clean, raw steel or metal. You can make use of a grinder to buff off paints and varnishes to ensure you expose the raw metal.
Do I Need to Upgrade My Electricity to Use a Plasma Cutter at Home?
This is not always a given. Most modern switchboards will be fully capable to handle your plasma cutter. Just ensure you are supporting your machine with the correct voltage and avoid over-crowding of outlets.
However, if your switch board is outdated or older you may come across some issues. Older switchboards may be prone to short circuits and blown fuses.
If you are unsure if your current electricity setup will support your plasma cutter, consider upgrading your switchboard to ensure a smooth power supply.
Tips for the Perfect Plasma Cutter Cut
When cutting at home there are certain tricks you can follow to increase your plasma cutter efficiency and improve the quality of your cut:
- Watch Your Levels
Keeping consistent levels creates a clean path for cutting.
When cutting aim to keep your device at 90° angle.
Ensure there is no warping or bending of the metal which is going to being cut as this may affect consistency.
- Continuous Contact and Travel Speed
When cutting, you want to maintain the same level of contact throughout for the smoothest cut.
It is advised to practice running the cut pathway a few times while your torch is off to ensure you get the feel.
Once your torch is on make sure to have a consistent travel speed.
Travelling too slow can cause an uneven cut.
- Use the Right Tip for the Right Ampage
Depending on what you’re planning to cut, you will require a different ampage and subsequently a different tip for your torch.
Smaller tips should be used for lower ampage.
- Use a Plasma Cutting Table
These table make use of a computer numerical control (CNC) which means you can have robotic precision with every cut.
Follow these tips and you’ll be able to guarantee the cleanest cuts with ease from your garage.
Using a plasma cutter means you can have narrow, concise cuts with very little heat-affected areas, (this will help to minimize warping or bending of materials).
Whether for a handheld device or a larger rig, make sure you follow all setup instructions to ensure you are able to give your plasma cutter the best air and power supply necessary for it to work.