5 Operating Tips For hand-held plasma cutters

Plasma cutting has come a long way since it was first developed in the late fifties by engineers. Today it is one of the most widely used tools in the process of metal plate cutting for a large variety of industries. Plasma torch, also known as a plasma cutter, is a device for generating a directed flow of plasma. It is used for plasma cutting, spraying and arc waste disposal.

The earlier devices were primarily used for cutting stainless steel and aluminium plates. They, primitive in comparison to the technology available today, were the most pragmatic and practical method for cutting non ferrous plates. Engineers continuously researched and worked on better models with the aim to improve quality and the life of the consumable nozzles and electrodes in the cutting torch. Plasma gained momentum in the 1960s. The process improved. The ability to cut complex shapes at high speeds increased.​

Water injection was introduced in the late 1960s. The 1970s saw the replacement of oxyfuel-based steel cutting appliances with plasma cutters. In the last seven years, development progressed radically. The number of buttons involved in operating a plasma cutting machine has reduced and making the handling of the instruments very simplified. The auto calibrating height control functionality has also been made easier in time.

Air plasma cutting systems from the major manufacturers has also advanced with respect to cut quality, consumable life and duty cycles. They are primarily designed for portable and in-shop hand held cutting applications. The systems are available from toaster size units that operate on 120-v house hold current to server materials, 100 percent duty cycle industry. Both portable systems can be used with a hand held torch as well.

The improvement in the technology is to ensure higher performance, reliability, cut quality, consumable life and ease in terms of utility.

Plasma cutting can improve productivity and lower cutting costs. It does not require prep time or activity such as a preheat cycle. Hand held torches can cut up to 38 mm thick steel plate and stronger computer-controlled torches can cut up to 150 mm thick.​

The actual application of a hand-held plasma cutter is not that difficult. There must be care taken in

  • Selecting a machine that best matches your application
  • Selection of the right accessories.
  • Plasma cutting requires two basic elements, air and electricity. Checking of what type of input power is available must be done.

Primary Power Management Technology allows you to plug in the plasma cutter anywhere in the world.

Safety measures​

  • Protection of the hand and fore arm is a necessity during the application of a hand held plasma cutter. It requires the operator wear a leather shield to avoid burns and bruises.
  • Eye protection and face shields are important to prevent eye damage. The shade number is directly proportional to the current level in Amps.
  • Leather gloves, apron and jackets are recommended to prevent injury from sparks and debris.
  • An automatic welding helmet with adjustable settings is a good choice of safety equipment.
  • A set of earmuffs or plugs is ideal as plasma cutting can tend to be a loud process.

Operating tips for hand held plasma cutter

  • Plasma cutters use a number of starting methods to start the arc. Some can cause electrocution, difficulty of repair and a large number of radio frequency emissions. Care must be taken to avoid the same.
  • Some plasma cutters cannot be run from a generator. Consequences can be disastrous.
  • Plasma cutting’s nemesis is water. Avoid using anything electronic when water is around.
  • Air pressure is also an important issue with plasma operation.Accessorize your plasma suitably.
  • It is always a good idea to check your tip, nozzle and electrode regularly for wear. A worn electrode can cause the arc to blow out the side of the tip.
  • The main adjustment is the voltage. Use an appropriate voltage for the metal you are cutting. Check the voltage to the thickness reference as a guide.
  • A good ground is extremely important for plasma cutting
  • A barrier is needed to keep the tip from fusing to the metal and blowing out the tip.
  • April 3, 2017
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