Choosing the right plasma cutter for your needs is vital to ensure an efficient and accurate cut and a safe work space. There are several factors which must be taken into account before you decide which tool is right for you. Firstly, the average thickness of metal you will be cutting is usually a known quantity which can help determine the maximum power and size of the machine. It is helpful to know the maximum possible thickness of metal to ensure that sufficient power is applied, and knowing your power supply will help ensure the machine is compatible. You then need to consider the type of metal as some are softer or more brittle than others, and the speed at which you will be hoping to cut.
When viewing plasma cutting machinery you will be looking out for certain key facts and figures, such as the operating voltage, the cut rate and the maximum thickness. As you may have already guessed, the more powerful the cutter, the faster it will cut through thicker metals. You may also be interested in how long the machine will last and at what sort of operating cost. Choosing between Pilot Arc technology and High Frequency Plasma Cutters is another important decision. The former method allows the user to create an arc in the air without needing to be close to the operating surface and it does not interfere with other electrical equipment, so a slightly safer option. The High Frequency Plasma Cutter on the other hand has a much more stable arc and is generally cheaper than the Pilot Arc. Also, most electrical equipment nowadays is protected against interference. You may also be after either a Rated Cut which is quick and smooth, or a Quality Cut which is slower but much smoother on thick metals. Also your machine will need a large Duty Cycle if it is going to be operated for long periods.
Once you have purchased or rented a plasma cutter, make sure you read the safety procedures and are wearing appropriate protective equipment to shield from the heat, the glare and the fumes.
This article was written by Emily Banham on behalf of Kerf Developments, the leading British supplier of plasma cutting machinery from brands such as Kaliburn.