Plasma Cutting Machine: How to Choose the Right One

Are you considering purchasing a cutting machine because of the need for frequent maintenance and repair work?

Or are you involved in a project that requires a high-performance cutting device?

Or do you need a new piece of equipment to replace the power saw you’re currently using?

All of these situations make it worth considering plasma cutting.

Nowadays, there are low-cost, smaller and more portable machines flooding the market, and the latest technology has improved profits and made operation easier, so it might be time to consider plasma cutting equipment.

Plasma cutting machine is now widely used in various industries such as automobiles, locomotives, pressure vessels, aerospace, nuclear industry, shipbuilding, and steel structures! Due to its wide cutting range (it can cut various non-ferrous metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, copper, titanium, and ordinary carbon steel), plasma cutting machines have even been able to completely replace the use of oxygen and acetylene cutting in certain specific fields.

Plasma cutting is easy to use, produces excellent cutting results, works quickly, and is highly efficient.

1. What is plasma cutting technology?

Plasma cutting is a method of processing in which the heat of a high-temperature plasma arc is used to partially melt (and evaporate) the metal at the cut of the workpiece, and the molten metal is expelled by the momentum of the high-speed plasma to form a cut.

2. How does plasma cutting perform compared to flame gas cutting?

Plasma cutting is only effective on metals that can serve as conductors – low carbon steel, aluminum, and stainless steel are typical examples. When cutting low carbon steel, operators will experience higher speeds and deeper cutting effects.

Flame gas cutting uses high-temperature cutting by burning or oxidizing metal. Therefore, its application scope is limited to black metals that can be processed using oxidation techniques, such as steel.

Metals such as aluminum and stainless steel generate oxides that restrict further oxidation. This makes it impossible for traditional flame gas cutting to process these types of materials.

Plasma cutting does not rely on oxidation treatment, so it can effectively cut aluminum, steel, and other conductive metals.

Furthermore, different types of gases can be used in plasma cutting, and most people currently use compressed air for plasma cutting. Air compressors can be purchased in most cities, so plasma cutting does not require combustible gases or compressed oxygen as operating gases.

3. What can I do with plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting is an ideal cutting method for cutting steel and non-ferrous metals with a thickness of less than 1 inch. Flame gas cutting requires operators to carefully control the cutting speed to maintain oxidation treatment, while plasma cutting has greater flexibility in this regard.

Plasma cutting is particularly outstanding in certain applications, such as cutting metal sheets, which cannot be achieved using flame gas cutting.

In addition, compared with mechanical cutting methods, plasma cutting is much faster, easier to perform nonlinear cutting, and excels at cutting metals such as aluminum, copper, and stainless steel.

4. What can flame gas cutting do that plasma cutting cannot?

When cutting thick plates, plasma cutting is more expensive than flame gas cutting, as flame gas cutting does not require a power supply or compressed air, making it easier for some users to use.

Flame gas cutting is faster than plasma cutting when cutting thicker parts of steel.

However, plasma cutting machines are much faster and more efficient when cutting thin sheets, and produce better results!

5. How do I choose when purchasing a plasma cutting machine?

Once you have decided that plasma cutting is the right choice for you, consider the following:

5.1 Determine the thickness of the metal you usually cut

The first factor to determine is the thickness of the metal you usually cut. Most plasma cutting machines are rated by cutting capacity and current size.

Therefore, if you usually cut thin metal, you should consider a low-current plasma cutting machine. Although small machines can cut specific thicknesses of metal, the cutting quality cannot be guaranteed.

Alternatively, you may get results with almost no cutting or useless metal residue. Each machine will have a set optimal cutting thickness range – ensure that the setting is suitable for your requirements.

Generally speaking, the selection of a plasma cutting machine must be 60% based on the maximum cutting thickness, which is the normal cutting thickness (to ensure cutting effect).

Of course, the thinner the metal, the faster the cutting speed, while the thicker the metal, the lower the cutting effect and cutting speed.

5.2 Choose the load duration rate of the equipment

If you need to cut for a long time or use automatic cutting, make sure to check the working load duration rate of the machine.

The load duration rate is simply the continuous working time of the equipment before it needs to cool down due to overheating. The working load duration rate is usually determined as a percentage based on a standard of 10 minutes.

For example, a 60% working load cycle for a 100A current means that you can continuously cut under a 100A current output for 6 minutes (based on 10 minutes as 100%).

The higher the working load cycle, the longer you can continuously cut.

6. Can this machine provide a high-frequency start option?

Most plasma cutting machines have a pilot arc that uses high frequency to guide the current through the air.

However, high frequency can interfere with nearby electronic equipment, including computers.

Therefore, a starting method that can eliminate these potential problems with high frequency may be advantageous.

7. Comparison of wear and lifespan

There are various external parts on the plasma cutting torch that need to be replaced, which we typically call consumables.

The machine you need to look for should use the minimum number of consumables. Less consumables mean cost savings. Two of the parts that need to be replaced are the electrode and nozzle.

Don't forget, sharing is caring! : )
Shane
Author

Shane

Founder of MachineMFG

As the founder of MachineMFG, I have dedicated over a decade of my career to the metalworking industry. My extensive experience has allowed me to become an expert in the fields of sheet metal fabrication, machining, mechanical engineering, and machine tools for metals. I am constantly thinking, reading, and writing about these subjects, constantly striving to stay at the forefront of my field. Let my knowledge and expertise be an asset to your business.

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