Plasma Cutting Machines

With the technology of plasma cutting machines, a plasma torch will blow an inert gas at high speeds out of a nozzle, via an electrical arc, which turns some of that gas into plasma. That is the reason that the machinery is plasma cutting. In most cases, even though all of these options remain widely used today, plasma cutting machines are typically seen as a solution for industrial users who are concerned with quickly and efficiently cutting conductive materials up to 3 inches thick.

Regarding the programmed version, the CNC plasma cutting process has superior cutting speeds, piercing speeds, and is able to generate extreme precise cutting qualities. It is certain that, plasma cutting technology is only one variety of system which CNC machines may be designed to work with since there are many other cutting methods to be utilized with other advantages. Another common variety is the CNC waterjet cutter by which it can use either a mixture of pressurized water and abrasive, or purely water.
 

Type of Welding and Cutting Equipment

With the technology of plasma cutting machines, a plasma torch will blow an inert gas at high speeds out of a nozzle, via an electrical arc, which turns some of that gas into plasma. That is the reason that the machinery is named as plasma cutting. In most cases, even though all of these options remain widely used today, plasma cutting machines are typically seen as a solution for industrial users who are concerned with quickly and efficiently cutting conductive materials up to 3 inches thick.

Programmed plasma cutting

Regarding the programmed version, the CNC plasma cutting process has superior cutting speeds, piercing speeds, and is able to generate extremely precise cutting qualities. It is certain that plasma cutting technology is only one variety of system which CNC machines may be designed to work with since there are many other cutting methods to be utilized with other advantages. Another common variety is the CNC water jet cutter by which it can use either a mixture of pressurized water and abrasive, or purely water.

Some plasma cutter suppliers build CNC cutting tables, and some have the cutter built into the table. CNC tables allow a computer to control the torch head producing clean sharp cuts for the operation, and modern CNC plasma equipment is capable of multiple axis cutting of thick material, allowing opportunities for complex welding seams that are not possible otherwise. For thinner materials, plasma cutting is being progressively replaced by laser cutting instead, because of the fact that the laser cutter's superior hole-cutting abilities.

Mechanism of plasma cutting

The basic plasma cutting process concerns the creation of an electrical channel of superheated, electrically ionized gas, that is, the plasma from the plasma cutter itself, through the work piece to be cut, so as to form a completed electric circuit back to the plasma cutter through a grounding clamp.

This process is accomplished by a compressed gas, which may be oxygen, air, inert and others based on the material that is supposed to cut, which is blown through a focused nozzle at high speed toward the work piece. An electrical arc is then formed within that gas, between an electrode near or integrated into the gas nozzle and the work piece per se.

Electrical arc

Meanwhile, the electrical arc ionizes some of the gas, thereby creating an electrically conductive channel of plasma. As electricity from the cutter torch travels down this plasma and delivers sufficient heat to melt through the work piece. At the same time, much of the high-velocity plasma and compressed gas blow the hot molten metal away, so as to separate, which means, to cut through the work piece.

Development of the plasma technology

Looking back to history, plasma cutting was born out of plasma welding in the era of the 1960s, and emerged as a very productive way to cut sheet metal and plate in the times of the 1980s. It had the advantages over traditional metal versus metal cutting of producing no metal chips, giving accurate cuts, and producing a cleaner edge than oxy-fuel cutting results.

In the past, early plasma cutters were large, somewhat slow and expensive and, therefore, tended to be dedicated to repeating cutting patterns in a massive production mode of manufacture. As with other machine tools, CNC (computer numerical control) technology was also applied to plasma cutting machines in the late 1980s into the 1990s, which gives plasma cutting machines greater flexibility and versatility to cut diverse shapes "on-demand" based on a set of instructions that were programmed into the machine's numerical control. These CNC plasma cutting machines were, however, generally limited to cutting patterns and parts in flat sheets of steel, using only two axes only.

Cutting range

To be specific, plasma cutting is an effective way of cutting thin and thick materials alike. Hand-held torches can usually cut up to 38 mm thick steel plate, and stronger computer-controlled torches can cut steel up to 150 mm thick under ideal circumstances. Moreover, since plasma cutters produce a very hot and very localized cone to cut with, they are extremely useful for cutting sheet metal in curved or angled shapes.

Arcs generated

This usually starts the arc without contact with the work piece in a three step processes, in which a high voltage spark briefly ionizes the air within the torch head. This makes the air conductive and allows the pilot arc to form. The pilot arc forms within the torch head, with current flowing from the electrode to the nozzle inside the torch head.

Later, the pilot arc burns up the nozzle, a consumable part, while in this phase the air then blows the plasma out the nozzle towards the work, providing a current path from the electrode to the work. Once the control system senses current flowing from the electrode to the work, it will cut the electrical connection to the nozzle. These are the basic but not comprehensive description of the plasma cutting, because here the content is not fully for introduction but rather, as a short plasma profiling.

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