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Plasma cutting machines are high precision instruments that are used to cut through ferrous and non ferrous metals with a very particular accuracy. Cutting of stainless steel and aluminum for instance requires advanced machinery to get the appropriate accuracy in both length and thickness. Plasma cutting machines are effective in providing this precision and accuracy in cutting metals of varied thickness in the range of 150mm. the use of these machines ensures this is done with both accuracy and speed.
Mechanized cutting on CNC tables as well as straight dross free cuts are enabled by this technology depending on the particular instrument or machine chosen. Plasma cutters range from heavy industrial ones to light portable cutters that can be moved according to need, this ensures a lot of flexibility and specialization in their use. The lighter portable ones are easy to use whereas the heavy industrial cutters have more specialized control mechanisms that ensure the pierce height and cut height are appropriate before moving.
How it works
Plasma cutting is done by use of what is known as a plasma torch. The process employed here is that a highly pressurized noble gas is blown out through a nozzle while ionized air around the surface being cut forms an electrical arc which turns the gas into hot plasma. This hot plasma melts the metal surface while blowing away the molten metal from the incision fast enough to make an accurate cut without blemish. The plasma torch does not get into contact with the metal making it appropriate for computer controlled cutting besides preventing shield damage. A high intensity spark is initialized by a high voltage circuit in the torch body to generate plasma gas.
Plasma is an appropriate means of cutting both thick and thin metals with the handheld torches cutting to an extent of 50mm wile computer controlled ones go up to 150mm of stainless steel. This is enabled by orientation and speed controlled cutting enabling it to cut in different angles and curves allowing for complex welding seams that would be very difficult or otherwise impossible.
Manufacturers of plasma cutters take into consideration specialized needs of its various users to create customized products for their customers. These designs may incorporate several accessories such as plasma cutters, engravers, routers and many other tools to deliver high precision and repeatability.
Some of the common features of most plasma cutters include:
· Power connection technology – this enables automatic adjusting of input voltage ranging from 200 to 600volts which can be done in one or three phases. It also maintains a stable and constant power output throughout the input adjustment
· Continuous output control – which focuses the arc depending on the material thickness
· Touch start system which enables plasma arc initiation
· Computer numeric control(CNC) – which sets up a fast, and reliable cutting mechanism with the torch
· Engine drive compatibility – this is useful for portable plasma cutters which enables you to power the cutter in remote locations using alternative energy sources such as generators.
· Rapid arc re-strike – which enable faster cutting through expanded metal and gaps.
· Front panel purge control – this feature allows for control of the rate of air flow without initializing the plasma arc.
Apart from the effective design features plasma cutters are adapted with long consumable life enabled by the nozzle designs that make it cost effective to use. Plasma torches are also in-built with systems that detect correct installation of the relevant parts as a safety measure. The portable cutters are lightweight to allow for easy mobility. The more bulky plasma cutters are compatible with several other CAD software suites also allowing for own customization or file importation from other CAD programs. Most table top platforms can be set up in any shop due to their minimal weight and small footprint. For the more intricate plasma gouging which is also a form of plasma cutting, additional safety gear may be provided to shield the user from the sparks produced during weld removal.
The price ranges for different plasma cutters vary according to design and specific manufacturers. The more basic plasma cutters with a machine torch goes for about 2000 to 4000 dollars whereas the larger industrial cutters could go for over 35000 dollars. Other plasma cutters with CNC prototyping system and table top could go for about 7500 dollars. With this varied range of prices one would need specific features in mind to do an online search for an appropriately priced cutter.