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Plasma cutting is a precious tool for getting quick, precise cuts in steel, aluminum, or stainless. This is done through the use of plasma cutters that mix a high-pressure air or gas flow with an electric arc. The heat can achieve a temperature of up to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These are a few things to keep in mind as you’re using a plasma cutter:
Safety is Priority
While plasma cutting is not as intense as welding, you have to proceed as though it is. Make it a point to wear flame-retardant clothes and hair covering. Put on glasses #5 eye protection and work in a safe location. Be familiar with your surroundings. Keep in mind that the heat and light can be strong, and you have to ensure your safety.
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In case you notice that your cuts are losing their sharpness, you may have to replace some or all of the parts that compose the cutting head. In most cases, this would consist of a heat shield, contact tip, insulators, nozzle, and offset tool. It’s smart to check the availability of these consumables when purchasing your plasma cutter. Select a current model with a convenient process for ordering parts.
The Importance of Moisture
Plasma cutters require clean, dry air to operate well. Moisture is the main culprit of parts losing efficiency and turning bad. There are a few things you can do to stall the effects of moisture, and restrict it to a bare minimum. Have 25 to 30 feet of line between the air compressor and the moisture trap. The moisture trap will work more efficiently if the air has an opportunity to cool first.
You can get an air drier that utilizes silica gel to attract moisture from the air. Get two, in fact – they are cheap. These can be set up at the compressor and at the water trap to extend the life of your consumables. The air driers themselves would be easier and less pricey to replace in comparison to the plasma cutter parts.
You have to cut at the correct speed. It may require a few tries to get it dialed in well if you’re new to plasma cutting. Among the best signs is the direction of the sparks while you’re cutting. When cutting too fast, the sparks move towards you. You should take it slow. The sparks and dross have to head towards the floor.
Usually, you will be holding the plasma cutter at a 90-degree angle to whatever you are cutting. Reaching the end of a cut, pull the angle up a bit to make for a beautifully smooth end of cut. If there’s some dross on your cut’s underside, a small file should take care of that pretty well.