How to Choose and Use a Plasma Cutter Safely and Effectively
When operating any type of equipment it’s always key to remember health and safety to protect yourself and others that are around you. A plasma cutter is similar to your standard welders in many ways but you also have to remember that whilst there are similarities to how they work they are two different products which give two end results.
A Plasma cutter is pretty straight-forward to use, you don’t need any qualifications to use one but the toughest part is selecting which one you need and the equipment that you need with it. One thing is for sure a Plasma cutters benefits far out-weigh the older techniques of saws, shears and cutting wheels.
What Are You Going to Use it For?
Before going out and buying any old Plasma Cutter you need to ask yourself what you are going to use it for, how often you are going to use it, how fast do you want it to cut and what maximum thickness you want it to cut at (as a maximum). If you know the answers to these questions then you can head out to your local hardware store or check online for the best plasma cutter to purchase.
Again, the similarity to a welder comes into play here because the amp and voltage capacities determine its size; however a plasma cutter requires much higher voltage and lower amps.
Cutting speeds can range from 10 – 160 and cutting thickness can range from 1 to 1.8 inches, so it’s important that you research each model for your requirements.
Before You Prepare for the Cut Take This On-Board
Before you jump into the Plasma cut there are a few things you will want to check off, and we advise you not to ignore this checklist as it will not only improve the cut you make but it will also protect your from any harm.
The firs thing you need to do is don the appropriate clothing for the cut, make sure that your wear safety equipment so in the event of anything happen you are going to be fully protected from any sparks or burns.
You will then want to carry out a few checks on the Plasma cutter, these include checking out the gas or air pressure on the compressor or gauge, and inspecting the torch tip for any worn instruments such as electrodes or shield cups. Replacing anything that looks worn will just give you a much better cut so the extra cost is worth it in the long run, especially if you need a precision cut.
Now all the checks have been carried out you can turn on the plasma cutter.
With 12 amp machines it’s important to check the work-piece you are cutting for any rust or dirt as they just don’t have that backbone power to be able to tear through these obstructions and you will only end up with a poor cut as the result of failing to remove dirt and rust.
Before you head to the cutting stage make sure you are holding the torch with a steady and loose grip. You don’t want to hold it too firm as you will notice that your hand will shake and you will end up with a less than satisfactory cut.
How to Cut With a Plasma Cutter
Everyone will have their own techniques or tips when it comes to cutting with a plasma cutter but as a rule of thumb we wanted to demonstrate the best and safest way of cutting your work-piece.
The first things you want to look at is placing the drag shield on the edge of the base metal and direct the resulting arc downwards. Once you have successfully achieved this simple raise the trigger lock and then once the cutting arc starts into action you can begin to slowly move the torch across the metal surface.
At this point it’s all about the speed of the cut and you may need to adjust the speed accordingly so that you can see sparks going through the metal and through the bottom of the work-piece. It’s important to check that sparks are being produced at the bottom because if there are no visible signs then the arc isn’t going deep enough through the metal so you will need to increase the amps.
When you come to the end of the cut you want to make sure you get a clean cut and completely sever the metal so just keep the trigger down and pause for a moment before you release it. This will give you a nice finish to the cut.
All you need to do then is let the metal cool down before you pick it up and use it on your project.