Can a Plasma Cutter Cut Stainless Steel? What You Need To Know

Jan 5, 2024 | Plasma Cutting Tips

Can a plasma cutter cut stainless steel? Out of the many materials that fabricators work with, it ranks highly in terms of durability and longevity. 

As a go-to provider of Hypertherm plasma cutters, we at Cyrious Metal Works often encounter this question from our esteemed clientele. The short answer is yes, but the quality of the cut is where it varies.

Keep reading as we dive headfirst into the nitty-gritty details of this matter.

Why Plasma Cutters Are the Best for Stainless Steel

While other options like oxy-fuel and laser cutters are on the table, plasma cutting brings many worthwhile perks, such as:

  • High precision
  • Swift cutting process
  • Can handle various thicknesses
  • Cleaner cuts
  • Cheaper upfront costs and maintenance

Choose a Plasma Cutter for Stainless Steel Applications

You’ll only see the advantages we’ve just mentioned when you have the proper tool. Use this checklist to see if your current cutter fits the bill or if it’s high time you upgraded your gear:

  • Cutting capacity: How thick can your plasma cutter go? Check the manufacturer’s specifications; a higher amperage rating (we recommend at least 40 amps of plasma-cutting capability for stainless steel) means it can handle bigger slices of material.
  • Accuracy: Features like CNC controls, automatic torch height control, and clean-cut technology help ensure precision stainless steel cuts with plasma.
  • Air supply: Nitrogen gas, preferably an F5 blend, is the go-to for stainless steel because it doesn’t react with the material. Steer clear of compressed air to avoid an oxidized and streaky finish.
  • Material type: Are you working with regular or polyethylene-coated stainless steel? For the latter, we suggest low-plasma currents and a nitrogen shield gas to prevent the burning or melting of the outermost surface.  

Safety Precautions When Stainless Steel Cutting with Plasma Cutter Tools

Can a plasma cutter cut stainless steel? Absolutely, but it always pays to tread carefully:

Electrical Hazards

Ensure proper grounding and avoid touching the cutter nozzle or the workpiece during operation. The last thing you want is to play catch with a few thousand volts!

Intense Heat

Wear a welding helmet, jacket, gloves, and pants to protect yourself from stray sparks. You should also keep a bucket of sand or a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach and properly store flammable materials before starting a project.

Toxic Gases

Stainless steel fumes contain a high concentration of hexavalent chromium and nickel, both of which are carcinogenic substances with links to conditions like respiratory issues and cancer. 

If you haven’t already, install a ventilation system that covers at least 80% of your workspace.

Can a Plasma Torch Cut Stainless Steel?

Can a plasma cutter cut stainless steel? Yes, if you get a premium model with the right features.

At Cyrious Metal Works, we carry a comprehensive selection for any plasma-cutting stainless steel thickness needs. Dial (903) 771-2462 and see how our equipment can amp up your fabrication game.

Explore more of our blog if you need help choosing the right type of plasma cutter.