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Pointers for Safe and Effective Use of Plasma Cutters

Plasma cutting is a valuable tool for producing fast, tidy cuts in steel, aluminum, or stainless. This is done through the use of plasma cutters that mix a high-pressure air or gas flow with an electric arc. The heat can achieve a temperature of up to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Below are some things to keep in mind while using a plasma cutter:

First, Safety

Even as plasma cutting is not as intense as welding, you must proceed as if it is. Ensure you wear flame-retardant clothes and hair protection. Put on glasses #5 eye protection and work in a secure area. Be familiar with your surroundings. Remember that the heat and light can be great, and you should ensure your safety.
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Consumables
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Each time you notice that your cuts are losing their sharpness, you might need to change some or all of the components of the cutting head. Mostly, this will consist of a heat shield, contact tip, insulators, nozzle, and offset tool. It’s smart to check the availability of these consumables when purchasing your plasma cutter. Select a current model with a convenient process for ordering parts.

The Importance of Moisture

Plasma cutters need clean, dry air in order to function properly. Moisture is the main cause of parts turning bad. There are a few things you can do to stall the effects of moisture, and restrict it to a bare minimum. Have 25 to 30 feet of line between the air compressor and the moisture trap. The moisture trap will work more efficiently if the air has an opportunity to cool first.

You can buy an air drier that uses silica gel to pull moisture from the air. Get two, in fact – they are cheap. These can be set up at the compressor and at the water trap to extend the life of your consumables. The air driers themselves are easier and less expensive to replace than the plasma cutter parts.

Cutting Speed

You have to cut at the correct speed. If you’re new to plasma cutting, it could take you a few attempts to get it dialed in well. One of the surest indicators is the direction of the sparks as you cut. If you cut too quickly, the sparks move towards you. You should take it slow. The sparks and dross have to head towards the floor.

The Angle

Usually, you will be holding the plasma cutter at a 90-degree angle to whatever you are cutting. Reaching the end of a cut, pull the angle up a bit to make for a beautifully smooth end of cut. Dross on the underside of your cut can be addressed with a small file.