How Does A Plasma Cutter Work: Short Guide

Oct 25, 2022 | Plasma Cutting Tips

Learn more about plasma cutting and buy your own plasma cutter by calling (903) 771-2462.

Plasma cutters are excellent tools for cutting conductive material, like stainless steel, mild steel, and copper, to your specifications. Plasma cutters help individuals and small businesses stand out from the crowd with specialty-made pieces and works of art, but how does a plasma cutter work?

Plasma cutters all work based on the same principles, but different brands and sizes can affect the exact way they work, so going over each before buying is crucial. Understanding what projects you are most likely to work with gives you a better understanding of what you will need in terms of precision, size, and ease of use.

If you are interested in a handheld plasma cutter, check out our precise Hypertherm plasma cutters in stock. At Cyrious Metal Works, we offer various plasma cutters and tables, giving you many options.

The Plasma Cutting Process

How does a plasma cutter work? These powerful tools change a gas, usually shop air, nitrogen, oxygen, or argon, into plasma and use this super-heated plasma to cut through metal. The type of air depends on your brand of plasma cutter, but they all work essentially the same way:

  1. The plasma cutter changes compressed gas into plasma through the addition of heat.
  2. Plasma becomes ionized and electrically conductive. 
  3. The plasma cutter forces air through its small nozzle orifice, creating the plasma arc.
  4. The plasma arc and the high-pressure gas flow become a plasma jet, which cuts through the material.

Plasma is the fourth form that matter can take. Through the addition of heat, matter can go from solid to liquid, to air, and finally, to plasma.

How Are Plasma Cutters Used?

Plasma cutters are thermal cutters, meaning they cut the metal through the application of heat, not mechanical cutting. They take a piece of metal and melt through it with a small stream of plasma forced through its nozzle, giving you complete control over where you use it.

Generally, plasma cutters divide into two groups:

  • The conventional plasma cutter is for all handheld systems and uses shop air.
  • The precision plasma cutter is for high-quality cuts and the utmost precision. Precision cutters typically use gases like argon, oxygen, nitrogen, or a combination for optimal results.

Depending on your project, you can use plasma cutters for maximum thickness metal or thin sheet metal. Different kinds of plasma cutters are better for different jobs, so researching a plasma cutter before you buy is necessary to get the right tool for your needs.

If You Need a Plasma Cutter, Contact Cyrious Metal Works

Buying a suitable plasma cutter is essential to becoming a metal fabrication master. Each project has unique requirements, so knowing the answer to the question, “how does a plasma cutter work?” can be helpful in the decision process.

If you’d like to learn more, read our post, How Hot Does a Plasma Cutter Get? For more information about plasma cutters and which one is best for you, call our Cyrious Metal Works team at (903) 771-2462.