Plasma cutter – the better option for a mechanical cutter
If you are looking for cutting tool for home maintenance or an alternative for the old mechanical cutter, Plasma cutting could be the best option.
The benefits being easy to use, good quality of the cut and fast travel speed.
While selecting a plasma cutter there are three questions to ask yourself:
- What will be the thickness of the metal which will be cut regularly?
- The maximum thickness to be cut?
- What is the speed used to cut?
- What is the input power available?
- Compare life versus the cost of the consumable.
- Check the cut quality.
- Check the ease of operation of the machine
- Determine the factor of portability
- Check the safety features
As in a welding machine, the plasma cutter also uses amperage and voltage capacity to determine the exact size of the plasma cutter.
Unlike welding the plasma cutting process requires high voltage and low amperage. Never judge a plasma cutter just by amperage.
It is crucial to remember that the amperage times voltage should be equal to the total power output.
Plasma cutting can be done on any conductive metal. This cutting is easier for both novices and professionals.
Optimising the plasma cutter
The ease of use of plasma cutter tempts us to use it as soon as we take it out of the box.
But before we do so we need to curb the temptation and look at the following points to optimise the capability of the equipment.
- Carefully read the owner’s manual about the safe and correct method of operation
- Always use the same type of metal and make a sample cut.
- It’s advisable to use a drag shield if provided.
- Faster the speed cleaner the cut.
- Always use protective mask and gloves before you start.
- Proper gas flow should be maintained
- Exact Distance between nozzle and the metal needs to be maintained
- Standoff distance between metal and nozzle is crucial
- Torch height variation will affect the angle of the cut.
- Appropriate nozzle diameter for appropriate ratings needs to be used.
- Maintain amperage of 95% to avoid sloppy cut.
- Edge starts should be used wherever possible.
Obtaining a better, smoother cut – An expert opinion
The regular plasma cutter comes along with a standoff which could be slipped on to the nozzle. This also holds the torch end of the metal to be cut. The standoff is just dragged onto the metal to cut it. If the metal has rust or slag the cutting might not be smooth. The result might be an edge with bumps.
To get a better and smoother cut using the plasma cutter few suggestions have been given by experts in some videos. Experts who have tried to cut metal using plasma cutter, generally recommend using “training wheels” to get the desired results. A number of videos online show how to obtain a smooth edge and also explain the various styles of the training wheels which are available in the market.
First set of “Training wheels” are the ones which can be slipped over the nozzle. There is a screw which is tightened on the cutting torch. This set has a set screw which allows us to move the wheels up and down the nozzle of the cutting torch. This type of training wheel comes in handy while we cut the water pipes, wherein the legs can be adjusted as per the curvature of the pipe to maintain the exact distance from the metal.
The second set is called “Flange wizard”. These flange wizards have collars which can be set-screw on the plasma cutter torch head. There are wheels which can be slid into the collar. These flange wizards are wider and provides stability. This comes in handy especially when we have to make a long cut, like cross cutting a 4foot sheet or ripping an 8 foot sheet.
The third set of training wheels are the custom made ones for the plasma cutter from the plasma cutter shop. This custom made tool is good especially because it rotates and swivels easily. This custom made wheels centre collar can be attached to the plasma cutter and the top end is attached to the circle cutter. This comes in handy while we cut large circles using circle cutter. This allows us to cut the full circle without the need to turn the cutter torch. This also cuts down the movement as all we need to do is to stand at the same place.
Professional users in online videos how you can fit the training wheel over the nozzle and tighten the screw, and then tighten the set screw for swivel for straight cutting.
You will need to wear safety gears like the gloves, mask and glasses in order to make a straight cut. While learning how to cut the curves, you will notice that the movement of the training wheels is so smooth that it cuts the metal with ease. The wheels take the weight of the cutting torch while you guide it.
While a scroll work is done, the plasma cutting guides act as a guideline to follow. Set the screw to focus it to the middle of the attachment in front of the cutting torch head of the line as a guide.
Once you establish your need, find the right machine and accessories, and learn the tips and tricks of smooth cutting. Plasma cutting provides you with an array of benefits like faster and higher quality cuts
Any kind of work can be done with these guides. Professional users and newbies love the training wheels as it gives a smooth cut and eliminates shakes in the cuts. All we need to do is to fix the wheels and pull the plasma cutter towards the edge to get a smoother better Needless to say, training wheels are a great addition to your tool box.