Importance Of Plasma Consumables

Whether you need to use cutting tools for occasional repair works or for bulk cutting or just need to replace your mechanical saw with an advanced option, you have every reason to check out plasma cutting. This recent technology is a process that uses high velocity Ionized gas or plasma from an orifice that conducts electricity from the torch to the work piece. The entire process melts the work piece material, simultaneously blowing the metal away, thus severing the metal.

Plasma cutting has been quite an in-thing due to decline in the cost of machines, high demand for portable machines and improvised technology offering faster, easier results. This method can be used whenever you need easy work, quality cutting and faster results.

What Are Plasma Consumables?

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Plasma cutting quality entirely depends on the efficiency of the consumables apart from the expertise of operator.

Consumables could be shield cups, nozzles or electrodes which could continuously wear out from time to time and require replacement.

There are many ways to find out if your consumables are worn out.

Timely replacement can add quality to your work as well as enhance the life of your equipment.

Finding the Worn Outs

Worn out consumables can be identified in many ways. An experienced worker can identify this easily by the color of the arc or by the sound or even slight changes in the height of torch. One of the best and most popular ways of identifying wear and tear of consumables is to analyze the quality of the cut edge. Keeping a continuous check will help you identify the average life span of each consumable and thus help you replace it on periodic basis.

Finding the average lifespan gives the operator a clear idea on when to check and replace the worn out part which could in turn avoid further catastrophes. Consumables life in different settings varies. The average life span depends mainly on the amperage of cutting, speed of cutting, air quality, humidity, skill level of the operator and the air pressure.

Factors Affecting Life of Plasma Consumables

Troubleshooting a consumables issue can be quite hard and time consuming. If you end up having worn out consumables that causes trouble, here are few common things to check.

  • Flow of Coolant

While the cutter is in function, the electrode emits a lot of energy which produces heat. Normally, there will be continuous flow of cooling fluid, which fails to do so, will result in abnormal heating up and failure of equipment. This calls for replacement of electrode, nozzle, holder, gas baffle or other affected parts.

  • Gas flow

Plasma has, as it travels through the nozzle, constricts the arc and cools the nozzle, thus preventing it room melting. If there is reduced gas flow, the nozzle interior will heat up and melt fast causing damage.

  • Piercing height

Plasma torch piercing process produces molten spatter that need to be eliminated. This spatter can contact the shield or nozzle, causing arcing or melting. This can especially happen while cutting thin metals. Hence, the process needs adequate height controlling, incorporating a control system with electrical oh mic sensor or the like.

  • Shutting off

Normally, the shut off procedure turns off the plasma slowly and safely, thus not giving much impact over consumables. But manual cutting off or automatic programming can make the arc snap. This could lead to stretching of the arc or the arc can be pulled off towards the side, thus getting arc in contact with the nozzle or shield. It is always better to shut off plasma in scrap area for normal shutting off.

  • Torch Crashing

Things could go wrong while the torch is cutting. The plasma torch can get stuck on obstructions and crash. There are systems that detect these obstructions and automatically shut down the system. But there are times the damage is already done especially when the nozzle comes in contact with plate, resulting in double arcing.

  • Current settings

Automated systems can set the current settings automatically. There could be errors if the system requires manual current settings which can greatly damage the nozzle. Running a lower current will reduce the lifespan of nozzle while running a larger current right away destroys the system.

  • Contamination

Any contamination in the plasma gas or water in case of water infection nozzles can cause damage. Long term use can make impurities deposit inside the nozzle causing double arcing.

  • Parameters and consumables

Modern equipment requires a number of settings that are built into the database for ease of operation and reduction of errors. Operators just have to choose preset parameters and rest is automatically adjusted. If any wrong parameter is chosen, this will result in damage. Likewise, choosing the wrong consumables can also considerably reduce its life.

  • Coolant

Using coolants that are not meant for the purpose can damage consumables, pump and torch. This include anti-freeze solutions. Plasma torch coolants that are mixed with our water will give longer life.

Ensuring Optimal Use

Many consumables end up in non-functional section even before they are completely worn out. This is as bad as using a worn out consumable. Both end up being expensive. Normally, consumables costs should not be beyond 10% of your operating cost. Though there are various factors guiding a consumables lifespan, the biggest role is that of an efficient operator. While certain consumable require constant vigilance, some can last longer which need to be analyzed and taken care of by operators. Here are few suggestions to optimize use of consumables.

  • Make sure you have latest technology in your machine like plasma power supply, CNC, CAM software and torch height controls.
  • Ensure the equipment is maintained, including preventive maintenance as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Be aware of consumables life span and follow the manufacturer’s guidance. Also, keep yourself updated on how to inspect consumables to identify if they are worn or not.
  • Make sure you replace any worn consumables on time to curtail further damage. Never use worn consumables which could damage the system.
  • April 3, 2017
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