How to Use a Plasma Cutter: 5 Quick Start Tips

May 9, 2022 | Blog

Plasma cutters are so easy to use that you might be tempted to take the expensive equipment out of the box and start cutting immediately. However, there are some practices that can increase the efficiency, improve the quality of your cut and prolong the life of your equipment. Before you rush in, consider these five tips to make the job easier and more efficient.

1. Do Your Homework

A plasma cutter is capable of doing a variety of cuts. The wrong technique or tip can ruin the cut and stretch your material, decreasing the speed and quality of your cuts. The first thing to do is review your instruction manual.

Watch a few videos available through the plasma cutter manufacturer. If available, contact the manufacturer, who can offer tips and tricks. If you’re working with a new plasma cutter, join a forum where users can tap into the talents of fellow users. If you’re looking for a specific type of cut, like a “V” section or a “C” shape, search the Internet for videos or pictures of people making those cuts.

2. Ground to Ground

Most people don’t think about grounding until a spark jumps at them or a conduit starts to hum. If you don’t have a well-grounded plasma cutter, you will end up with a poorly cut piece and an extra step to fix it.

Although it’s difficult to keep the entire system perfectly grounded, you must make sure that the ground of the machine is directly connected to the ground of the one from which you’re working. If you don’t do this, the flow of electricity will be interrupted, resulting in a poorly cut piece.

3. Matched Pieces

Cutting thicker sheets of metal will always make a mess. The perfect way to avoid this problem is to ensure that the pieces you’re cutting are the same thickness. A thicker piece will end up being the last piece to be cut, and when the plasma cutter cuts through the sheet, it will oxidize the base material and make clean cuts that are free of slag.

If the pieces are thicker than a quarter of an inch, it would be ideal to use a stronger and faster cutting tip. A thicker tip can scrap through the hard material and cut it in one pass.

4. Use the Correct Voltage

The voltage of your plasma cutter should match the thickness of the material you’re cutting. If the cutter is set to a higher voltage than the material can handle, the metal will be stretched, and you’ll end up with a poorly cut piece.

A lower voltage will result in a slower cut. A lower voltage can be helpful if you’re cutting a thin piece of material and you want it to be free of slag.

5. Maintain a Clean Machine

The plasma cutter produces a lot of heat and some smoke. The amount will depend on the material. Metals with higher carbon content, like steel, will cause more smoke and heat than aluminum, which has a lower carbon content.

It’s important to note that if the material you’re cutting is coated with oil or paint, the plasma cutter might not be able to remove it. In that case, consider using a grinder to remove the material.

Conclusion

A plasma cutter is a portable, unique and powerful tool. When used properly, it can slice through metal, creating clean and straight cuts for garden art, fencing, fire pits, and more. In order to produce the best results, we suggest using the tips presented in this guide.

If you’re ready to delve into the metal fabrication industry, it all starts with getting your very own plasma cutting table for your factory. Cyrious Metal Works gives you our entire line of turn-key CNC plasma tables built for durability and ease of use. Shop our tables and plasma cutters today and get your metal fabrication operation up and running.