Replacing Your Plasma Consumables – When & Why?

The utilization of genuine and good quality Hypertherm torches and consumables for the plasma cutting system is the best way to obtain efficient performance. The consumables need to have updated performance increasing technology.

The most popular answer to the question ‘When consumables should be replaced?’ is that it should be done when they are worn out.  The truth of the matter is that there is a lot more to be considered than the obvious wear and tear of the tool. Good skills are vital in order to make this decision. The condition of the consumables ought to be analysed while deciding when they should be replaced. The consequences of not finding the right replacement at the right time have consequences.

Changing the consumables

The used parts bucket has many consumables that could probably still be utilized. Knowing exactly when to replace them can get tricky. Sometimes they are replaced too quickly and too frequently. It is a fairly common practice.

The cost of the torch head is fairly high. It is prudent to take care of it and be as cautious as possible to ensure that the tools are safe and handled with care. The calculator aids in identifying the parts that need to be replaced immediately. The life expectancy of the consumable depends on the good maintenance of each part.

Utilizing the consumables until they explode

Image source: http://www.tregaskiss.com

Image source: http://www.tregaskiss.com

Failures of the expensive torches are one of the main consequences of not replacing the plasma consumables when necessary. Avoidable down time takes place in such a scenario. The used parts bucket has its own story to tell. Application of the parts right until the moment they fail due to complete depreciation is a hazard that must be evaded at all costs. The consequences can be expensive.

This calculator can be modified for any type of power supply and can be amended just by changing the average pierce and cost centre.

When consumables should be replaced

Image Soure: Amazon.com

Have a look at this chart – http://torchmate.com/Consumable-Cost-Calculator whenever a change is made. Quality can be evaluated and you can keep track of the consumable costs this calculator can be adjusted

There are several tell tale signs that explicitly state that replacement is due. An experienced operator can immediately detect such a sign because he has a good eye for it. The professional knows what to look for in order to detect the signs.

  • When the nozzle is gouged on the outside or inside
  • When the hole is shattered and worn out
  • When the electrode is well-spent
  • Grease or dirt in the holes, arc burns, cracks
  • Excessive tear
  • Signs of the slightest physical damage

The outer retaining cap is what holds all the consumables on the torch. It requires replacement when it looks like this. The edge on the top is dented. There is slag that is built up at the lip. The shield cap is not going to fit properly.

The inner retaining cap has a copper body with an insulator ring pressed on for seating it into the shield cap. The coolant is circulated by the inner retaining cap around the nozzle. The gas is distributed to the shield cap via small holes in the insulator ring.

It is time to be replaced when the orifice is bent or burnt or if the small holes are plugged. Here the insulator is damaged and hence requires replacement.

The shield cap is vulnerable to damage due to torch crashes and pierces when made too close to the plate. The O-rings ought to be inspected for damage. Cuts, cracks, nicks, and tears are possible.

The Nozzle which is made up of copper forms a conduit for the swirling plasma arc. The nozzle has to be replaced when the orifice starts to wear out on either the inner or outer bore. O-rings ought to be inspected for damage.

The swirl ring is not consumed by the plasma as it is machined from high-temperature resilient material like ceramic. It plays the role of a vessel in order to enable the swirling action of the plasma gas and an insulator between the nozzle and the electrode. This aids in creating precise cuts.   The small holes must be clear of debris and dust. It should be instantly replaced if any cracks are detected.

The electrode is made up of silver or copper or an alloy of both. It contains separate emitter rod insert. This is made up of either tungsten or hafnium. The emitter rod gets consumed when the plasma arc is on. The plasma arc jumps to the end of the electrode causing an immediate blowout. This is likely to destroy the shield cap and the nozzle. The torch head is also at risk.

When the wear depth exceeds the permissable limit, it is time for the replacement. The safety zone is approximately 0.040 inches for copper and 0.1 inches for the silver electrode.

Tips for good maintenance

  • Ensure that the right consumables are utilized for the amperage. The amperage must be based on the material that is being cut.
  • When one component is worn out, it is not vital to change them all.
  • When the quality of the cut falls, emergency inspection is required to identify a further course of action. All consumables have to be inspected one by one. The damaged or depreciated part must be replaced immediately.
  • The air supply needs to be checked for excess oil or moisture.
  • Work lead connection needs to be inspected.
  • Changes to the bevel, cutting height and dross must be taken into account. Depreciation on the consumables accelerates leading to higher operation costs.
  • Experience is the best teacher. The more you are exposed to the machines, the better you are equipped to handle them.
  • Utilising the wrong parts for the job leads to reduced cut quality and shortens the life of the various parts.
  • Proper maintenance increased the shelf life of the various parts. Proper lubricants must be used and the torch should be cleaned at regular intervals.
  • Checking of the gas and the coolant flows is vital to the consumables.
  • Updated October 2, 2016