What Is a Plasma CNC Machine?

Posted on Dec 16, 2020

CNC Plasma Cutter

A plasma CNC machine is the machine that applies the plasma cutting approach in CNC machining. The plasma CNC machine does not use the conventional cutting tools but a jet of hot plasma instead.

What Is a Plasma CNC Machine?

    The plasma CNC machine is the machine that applies the plasma cutting approach in CNC machining. In a conventional CNC machining operation, drill bits or cutting tools are used to cut the workpieces or remove the unwanted parts away from the workpieces by the physical force of piercing, penetrating, or slicing. On the other hand, a plasma CNC machine does not use the conventional cutting tools but a jet of hot plasma instead.

    The plasma CNC machines will be used when the machining operations are to be done toward electrically conductive materials. For example, materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass or copper can all be cut by a plasma torch released from a plasma CNC machine. There are more metal materials that can be cut with the plasma CNC machines. The plasma cutting can also be applied in other industrial settings such as fabrication, auto repair and restoration, construction, etc.

:: Read more : A Comprehensive Overview of CNC Plasma Cutting Machine

What Is Plasma?

    Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter other than solid, liquid and gas. As we know, a matter changes its state from one to another through the change of temperature, heating or cooling. The nature of the temperature change is the dynamic of energy. The basic rule goes like this, when a solid matter is heated, it gradually melts and turns into liquid. When it is further heated, the liquid evaporates into gas. So where is plasma in it?

    To put it simple and straight, when the gas or the steam is even further heated, the gas becomes ionized and electrically conductive and turns into plasma. The plasma CNC machine, or the plasma cutter, transfers the energy from the electrically conductive gas to the electrically conductive materials, the metal workpieces. The process that transfers energy from plasma to the workpieces causes the removal of the parts the plasma contacts.

    The way the parts of the workpieces are removed or dissected by plasma is more similar to that of electrical discharge machining or the laser cutting than the traditional CNC machining. Instead of physically dissecting the parts of the workpiece, the plasma melts or evaporates the parts away. Plasma cutting is deemed as one of the precision cutting measures in CNC machining.

What Are The Components of a Plasma CNC Machine?

    There are three essential components of a plasma CNC machine: the power supply, the plasma arc starting console, and the plasma torch. The power supply of a plasma cutter converts the AC voltage into a constant DC voltage which ranges from 200 to 400 VDC. The DC voltage has to be constant to maintain the plasma arc during the cutting process. The power supply system in the plasma CNC machine also controls the current output based on the amount it needs to cut through certain types and thickness of materials. The thicker or more rigid the workpiece is, the greater output of electric current is required.

The arc standing console is a circuit that produces spark inside the plasma torch to create the plasma arc. The plasma torch is the part that releases the plasma arc to cut. The torch is an electrode which wears out through uses; as a result, the plasma torch needs to be replaced when it is out of service. The gas that is used to form the plasma arc includes oxygen, nitrogen, argon, or shop air. To form the plasma arc, the gas is forced to pass through a nozzle orifice inside the torch. The electric arc will be introduced to the pressurized gas flow and generate the plasma jet.

:: Read more : Main Applications of CNC Plasma Tables

Conventional plasma system

    Shop air is mostly used by the plasma CNC machines which work with the conventional plasma system. The shape of the plasma arc of the conventional plasma system is determined by the orifice of the nozzle on the plasma torch. The average amperage of this type of plasma arc is from twelve thousand to twenty thousand amps per square inch. The conventional plasma system is applied primarily by the handheld cutting machines.

Precision plasma system

    The precision plasma system is also known as the high current density system. The precision plasma system is utilized by most plasma CNC machines since it is able to offer the sharpest and highest quality cuts to the CNC machining operations. The torch design on the precision plasma system is more complex than that on a conventional plasma system. The precision plasma arc is about forty to fifty thousand amps per square inch. The gases this system uses are oxygen, nitrogen, high purity air, or the mixture of multiple gases. 

    A plasma CNC machine is a plasma cutter which is incorporated with the computerized controlling system so that the precision cutting can be further assured. With the computer numerical control, the plasma torch can be adjusted to the desired direction and process the machining operation at the programmed speed. On top of that, the CNC can detect the feedback of the cutting procedure and makes corrections rapidly to make sure the torch goes on the exact programmed path. The CNC control unit on the plasma cutter is very sensitive and the quick response allows the plasma CNC machine to perform smooth and precise cuts.

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