If you look up the definition of plasma, you’ll find something to the effect that it’s a state of matter containing a large portion of charged ions and electrons in nearly equal amounts and that it exhibits some of the properties or gasses but is not a gas itself.
You might also learn, among other things, that it conducts electricity well. Additionally, you might learn that it acts like an electrically-heated gas stream.
Still with us? It’s about to make a little more sense!
What is Plasma Cutting?
Here’s what you need to know about plasma in the manufacturing and industrial worlds:
- When you take that stream, constrict it through a small opening, and get it dense and moving fast (by using what’s called a plasma torch), it can melt away and cut through most metals with relative ease.
- Generally, plasma cutters can cut metal plates precisely with a thickness from 0.06’’ up to 2’’. But some advanced CNC plasma cutters can cut metal plates with a thickness up to 6’’.
- Plasma cutting works well for cutting conductive metals such as aluminium, brass, cast iron, copper, steel, and titanium. In fact, for cutting aluminium, carbon steel, and stainless steel, it’s the fastest cutting process.
- On the same part, you can combine plasma cutting with waterjet or oxy fuel.
- Plasma cutters can make more accurate cuts than some other metal-on-metal methods can because the process doesn’t produce metal chips. It also produces cleaner edges than oxy-fuel cutting does.
How Plasma Cutting Works
We can get really technical or try to keep it relatively simple. Our bet is that most would prefer the latter!
Plasma arc cutting, as the process is officially called, involves a nozzle, usually made of copper, that constricts the gas-like plasma into an arc. The arc then travels from an electrode inside the torch to something else, that something else usually being the material needing cutting. This arc generates a high temperature near the workpiece, which leads to melting the targeted portion of metal and forming a thin cut.
The process described above involves what’s called a transferred arc. There is such a thing as a non-transferred arc where the arc goes from the electrode to the nozzle, but that process usually isn’t used for cutting.
Plasma arc cutting works best with aluminum, mild steel, and stainless steel. Although it can work with the other metals mentioned above, plus other conductive metals, there’s sometimes a problem. Some of the non-ideal metals have lower melting temperatures, which makes it difficult to wind up with a high-quality edge.
Applications of Plasma Cutting
Thanks to its high speed, precision, and low cost, plasma arc cutting has a broad range of applications from the industrial level all the way down to small hobby shops.
Here are just some specific examples of where plasma arc cutting proves useful:
- Automotive repair and restoration
- Fabrication shops (here, fabrication means the creation of metal structures through bending, cutting, and assembling)
- Industrial construction
- Salvage and scrapping operations
Sustainment Can Find Plasma Cutting Companies Near You
When the job calls for plasma cutting, you can’t afford to waste time looking for a reliable and reputable plasma cutting company near you. That’s where Sustainment can help.
With our knowledge and experience in the industry, plus our professional contacts, we can connect you with the companies you need to get the job done while not having to stress over it. Our team will help you keep your productivity goals on target.
To find plasma cutting companies near you that you can count on, join Sustainment today!