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How to Use Plasma Cutters Safely and Effectively

Plasma cutting is a precious tool for getting fast, neat cuts in steel, aluminum, or stainless. This is done through the use of plasma cutters that mix a high-pressure air or gas flow with an electric arc. The heat can achieve a temperature of up to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These are a few things to keep in mind as you’re using a plasma cutter:

First, Safety

While plasma cutting is not as intense as welding, you have to proceed as though it is. Ensure you wear flame-retardant clothes and hair protection. Put on glasses #5 eye protection and work in a secure area. Be familiar with your surroundings. Take note that the heat and light can be overpowering, and you need to ensure your safety.
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Each time you notice that your cuts are losing their sharpness, you might need to change some or all of the components of the cutting head. Mostly, this will consist of a heat shield, contact tip, insulators, nozzle, and offset tool. It’s smart to check the availability of these consumables when purchasing your plasma cutter. Pick a new model with a simple process for ordering parts.

The Importance of Moisture

Plasma cutters need clean, dry air in order to function properly. Moisture is the main culprit of parts losing efficiency and turning bad. There are some things you can do to decelerate the effects of moisture, and control it to a bare minimum. Have 25 to 30 feet of line between the air compressor and the moisture trap. The moisture trap will work much with the air having a chance to cool first.

You can buy an air drier that uses silica gel to pull moisture from the air. In fact, get two – they are affordable. These could be installed at the compressor and at the water trap to stretch the life of your consumables. The air driers themselves would be easier and less pricey to replace in comparison to the plasma cutter parts.

Cutting Speed

You should cut at the effective speed. If you’re new to plasma cutting, it might take you a number of tries to dialed it in properly. One of the surest indicators is the direction of the sparks as you cut. When cutting too fast, the sparks move towards you. You have to slow it down. The sparks and dross have to head towards the floor.

The Angle

Often, you would hold the plasma cutter at 90-degree angle to what you are cutting. As you reach the end of a cut, move the angle up a bit to for a smooth end of cut. If you see some dross on the underside of your cut, a small file can take care of that.