What a plasma cutter is and How Does a plasma cutter works
A plasma cutter is a common cutting tool that is used to cut and manipulate the metals needed to build something.
In most cases, this tool is found in metal fabrication shops, automotive repair and restoration, industrial construction, and salvage and scrapping operations, though some models are also suitable for home enthusiasts or DIY.
Video from Miller Welders
Plasma cutter takes input power, process it and by means of an accelerated jet of hot plasma, it allows you to cut any electrically conductive materials.
The device allows you to cut metal to your liking, including stainless steel, aluminum, brass, steel, copper and also other conductive metals.
High speed and precise cutting technology combined with low cost, makes the plasma cutter one of the very useful tools not only in large-scale industrial applications but also to small hobbyist shops.
The plasma cutter is an excellent device for using in most cutting applications. It can cut both ferrous and nonferrous materials, but it is especially perfect for those in which cut quality and speed are important.
Usually, fabrication work is done by hand, using a hand held plasma torch. There are various types of plasma torch depending on what thickness of metal you’re likely to be cut.
Besides this, CNC plasma cutter also has very extensive applications in the metal industry, which cut profiles from digital files onto larger sheets of metals.
Using a plasma cutter in the metal working process is much lower cost than water-jet or laser cutter. The cutting work by a plasma cutter is also a very quick and precise process.
How Does A Plasma Cutter Work
Before explaining the working process of a plasma cutter, it’s better to know first “What is plasma?” Simply, plasma is one of the most prevalent states of matter. The three states of matter are- solid, liquid and gas.
The introduction of energy can change the state of matter. If heat is applied to gas, at one stage, the steam will become ionized. The ionized particles are electrically conductive. Hence, plasma is a collection of charged particles that contains equal numbers of electrons and positive ions which are a good conductor of electricity. A plasma cutter uses this electrical conductive gas to transfer energy from a power supply to any metals.
In superior class plasma cutters, a pilot arc between the nozzle and an electrode is used to ionize the gas that initially generates the plasma prior to the arc transfer.
Plasma torches usually use a copper nozzle to compress the gas stream with the arc flowing through it. The arc formation starts when a gas (nitrogen, argon, oxygen or even shop air) is forced through the nozzle opening inside the torch.
An electrical arc is then introduced to this high pressured gas flow (commonly referred to as “plasma jet”). This high speed – high-temperature plasma jet immediately drill through the metal and blow away the molten materials.
This is the basic technology of plasma cutter. Researchers and engineers are working continuously to make the unit more powerful but smaller in size while improving cut quality, increasing cut speed and extending consumable life.