What is a plasma cutter and how to use it for cutting metal?

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Plasma is a state of matter that is created when gas is superheated. It is ionized and can conduct electricity. Plasma cutters take advantage of this phenomenon to cut conductive metals. They work by directing a thin beam of ionized gas at the metal, which melts it at temperatures of up to 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit (16,650 degrees Celsius) and cuts through it or into it. Before using a plasma cutter, make sure to wear protective clothing and eye shields. Check all the consumables and replace them if necessary. Start the pilot arc by placing the nozzle near the metal, and the cutting arc will begin in a few moments. Some plasma cutters automatically move the nozzle away from the surface to be cut, while others require manual adjustment. A drag cup or roller guide can be used to keep the nozzle stable and at a fixed distance from the metal. It is recommended to start the cut at a 60-degree angle and then move to 90 degrees. If sparks are not visible, slow down the cutter or increase the current. The necessary current and speed depend on the type and thickness of the metal being cut. Finally, angle the cutter inward and pause for a moment to ensure an even finish.

FAQ

1. What is a plasma cutter and how does it work?

A plasma cutter is a tool used to cut metal and other conductive materials. It works by creating a high-temperature plasma arc that melts the metal and blows it away from the cut. The plasma is created by passing an electrical current through a gas, usually compressed air or nitrogen.

2. What types of metal can be cut with a plasma cutter?

A plasma cutter can cut a variety of metals, including steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. The thickness of the metal that can be cut depends on the power of the plasma cutter, with more powerful cutters able to cut thicker material.

3. What safety precautions should be taken when using a plasma cutter?

When using a plasma cutter, it is important to wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves, eye protection, and a face shield. The cutter should be grounded and the work area should be clear of any flammable materials. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to never touch the metal being cut until it has cooled.

4. What are some common applications for plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting is commonly used in metal fabrication, automotive repair, and industrial construction. It can be used to cut metal to size, create intricate shapes, and remove damaged or corroded material. It is also used in artistic and decorative applications.

5. Can a plasma cutter be used on curved surfaces?

Yes, a plasma cutter can be used on curved surfaces by using a guide or template. A guide can be attached to the cutter to follow the curve of the metal and ensure a precise cut. Some plasma cutters also have a built-in guide that can be adjusted to follow curved surfaces.

6. How do you maintain a plasma cutter?

To maintain a plasma cutter, it is important to clean the nozzle and electrode regularly to ensure proper cutting. The air filter should also be checked and cleaned or replaced as needed. It is also important to store the cutter in a dry, clean place and to inspect it before each use to ensure it is in good working condition.

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