How Do Plasma Consumable Work With One Another?

Plasma cutting in general would involve the technique where plasma, often referred as the fourth matter after solid, liquid and gas, is created out of subjecting a gaseous substance on an electromagnetically charged surface, which in turn focuses as a powerful electric beam that helps cut ferrous or electrically conducive surfaces by melting them out. Plasma cutting process, then, can be broadly conceived as an electromagnetic field at work. Here the plasma cutters act as the catalyst or medium to carry out the process of conversion of gaseous matter to plasma matter, manifesting into the final result of cutting metals.

Plasma consumables: An overview:

Plasma, therefore being of an ionic and broad electric field, has the potential of being extremely effective for the job it is used for. This also entails the fact that the cutting components used in the technique, has got a lot to do with efficacy achieved as well as to ensure the preservation of safety in this energy exhaustive process. Plasma cutting tools also known as consumables constitute a package that constitutes of a torch and other parts which work together to achieve a successful plasma cutting. Apart from the torch the other components include:

  • A shield, which acts as the guard to protect other consumables from the electric beams coming out of the nozzle
  • A retaining cap, one which helps to hold other consumables in a stacked up organized manner
  • A nozzle, which enables to focus plasma and its width determines what purpose the plasma cutter is being used for
  • An electrode, which is often the highly chargeable portion that conducts electricity from the machine to the nozzle and the most essential component to achieve the objective of plasma cutting
  • A swirl ring, this finally regulates and alters the temperature of the gaseous substance at various places within the machine to ensure safety and efficacy at the same time.

To find an effective set of consumables at work, one can check with either the Hypertherm products that specialists in plasma cutting tools and consumables. Or, the Miller range of products that focuses on welding materials can also be effective.

Relationship between plasma consumables: Coordinating the essentials

Plasma consumables at work often resemble an effective and cohesive team that often gives excellent results. Each component complements each other in a way that the ultimate result is based out of a coordinated effort. The shield, acting as the protector, will ensure the other consumables around stays safe from the molten shards that gets constantly released from the surface on which plasma is applied and also the highly charged beams do not get inside the machine. In cases where it is a drag shield, there for the uninitiated, the torch can directly be placed on the surface without the need of another stand-off, which makes dragged cutting a lot easier.

For the second step, the electrode, which carries the charge from the machine to the nozzle, is often made of tungsten or hafnium that allows high conduction of electricity. It stretches from the machine through the length of torch and stays in contact with a cathode block, where the release of electrical charge happens through the end of electrode, after electrical charge interaction from electrode and cathode block has been focused on it. The resultant is the creation of an electrical arc after which the next consumable comes into action.

The nozzle, at the next level, takes that electric arc in itself and focuses the electrical arc or plasma on the surface of the plate to be cut. It also acts as the funnel and helps to mold or constrict the plasma. In effect, although the electrode carries the load and creates the plasma arc, it is the nozzle that channelizes it efficiently and achieves the cutting with the help of plasma.

Now, amidst all this, where do we hope to find the swirl ring?! The swirl ring actually does the tricky part of the business and it is not for nothing that it is named as the ‘swirl ring’. It indeed helps to make the gas get channelized in various directions when coming down from the machine. This so that the gas travels first around electrode then goes up to the nozzle and finally gets out of the tip of the torch. At the point where the gas reaches the nozzle, the swirling of the ring would make the gas close to the nozzle to be cooler in temperature which prevents the nozzle from getting burned up as highly charged temperature of plasma beams are at work inside the nozzle.

The other part of the swirling of the ring enables the gas to pull itself backward in order to take off the heat from the electrode.

Harmonious interaction of the consumables for highest efficiency:

From the above section, it is evident that, plasma consumables need to work in support of each other because one glitch in a particular consumable would bring about a steady trouble at the next level. For example, if the shield is malfunctioning, it will quickly lead on to compromising at the safety for other consumables. Again, any trouble with the electrode and nozzle coordination, the entire plasma cutting would come to a standstill. In order to be certain that the parts are working in harmony, few points would come in handy:

  • Check the nozzle in frequent intervals. Although the swirl ring has the job to cool the surrounds of it, yet with time the orifice gets widened because of constant heat being projected out of it that burns the tip of the nozzle. If you are not into gouging and just need it for precision cutting, a wider orifice will compromise on the cut quality.
  • The electrode gets worn out with time owing to the fact that the tungsten or hafnium part burns away with cycles of electric field creation. One needs to keep a close look so that the electrode does not wear off to create a wide pit. This can lead to severe damage of the kit, ensure no cutting happens as well as jeopardize the safety of plasma cutting. Ideally, with the electrode the nozzle needs replacement simultaneously.
  • The swirl ring and the retaining cap needs to be monitored for any build up of molten sludge or normal wear and tear signs like crack, fissures or bends.
  • Finally, it is imperative that one essentially uses a consumable kit of similar make than opting for random pieces of consumable each of different make.

Thus, in order to have a steady operational cost with the highest level of efficiency in plasma cutting, one needs to be absolutely certain that safety guidelines like inspection of the parts in place, no regular fluctuation of plasma creating mode, stay in place.

  • April 3, 2017
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