There is no denying the fact that irrespective of what you intend to use a plasma cutter for, setting it up is very important. This is why, before you start using this tool, it is expected that you must first set up the plasma cutter.
So, are you having difficulty in setting up a plasma cutter? Or you have no prior knowledge of how best to utilize this tool?
If you are under either of those categories, you should keep reading as we run you through the process.
But first, let us enlighten you more about this machine called plasma cutter. What then is it?
First of all, plasma cutting systems are made of components such as the power supply, the plasma torch, and lastly the Arc starting console.
This machine is used mainly for trade work and also artwork. For example, plumbers could use it to cut pipes; general contractors can also make use of it to cut metal works.
In addition, it can also be used for business-related purposes, especially those who are motorcycle enthusiasts and a couple more others. Plasma cutters are fast, reliable and produce results in quick successions.
But despite its immense popularity and effectiveness, there are not a lot of people who know how to make use of this machine. So, before anything else, the first line of action would be to set up the machine.
Now, let’s run you through each of the necessary steps on how to properly set up a plasma cutter.
Table of Contents
- How To Properly Set Up A Plasma Cutter
- How To Use A Plasma Cutter Correctly
- Step By Step Ways Of Using A Plasma Cutter Correctly
- Step 1: Ensure A Neat Working Environment
- Step 2: Plug In The Plasma Cutter
- Step 3: Have The Air Compressor Connected
- Step 4: Have The Machine Turned On
- Step 5: Have The Ground Clap Attached
- Step 6: Cut The Metal
- Step 7: Ensure The Machine Is Turned Off
- Step 8: Turn Off The Air And Allow The Torch To Cool Off
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What Shade Lens Is Required For Plasma Cutting?
- Q: What Kind Of Eye Protection Is Needed For A Plasma Cutter?
- Q: What Size Breaker Do I Need For A Plasma Cutter
- Q: How Accurate Are Plasma Cutters
- Q: Can A MIG Welder Be Used As A Plasma Cutter
- Q: What All Do You Need For A Plasma Cutter
- Q: Do You Need A Welding Helmet For Plasma Cutting
- Q: Do You Need An Air Compressor For A Plasma Cutter?
- Q: How Much Does It Cost To Run A Plasma Cutter?
- Q: What Should I Pay Attention To When Using A Plasma Cutter:
How To Properly Set Up A Plasma Cutter
The following steps are just the right steps to take to set up a plasma cutter.
Step 1: Select A Suitable Location
The first line of action to take would be for you to have a prearranged place where you would place the plasma cutter. One mistake people make is not placing it in a spacious place and this affects the operation.
Hence, it is always important to have a location where you would feel comfortable and it should have enough space to have the machine set up.
In addition, to avoid incidents or accidents, it is important that children cannot easily access such a selected location. In other words, you have to consider the safety of the kids before anything else.
Step 2: Ensure The Machine And Other Tools Are Properly Placed
The second step to take after ensuring a suitable location has been selected would be to place the tools and the machine on the selected worktable. It is important to cross-check to be sure that the plate does not come in contact with the track for safety reasons.
Also, since there are different plasma cutters, it is expected that you know the right one which you intend to set up so as not to avoid setting up the wrong one.
Step 3: Ensure The Airline Has A Connection
An air compressor would play a key role under this third step. However, before its use, you would have to ensure the airline has a connection. The connection being established here is the air regulator and the air compressor. With the air regulator in place, it makes it a bit freer to control the air that comes in and the one which goes out.
So, without a doubt, it is important to ensure that you decide on the cutting direction. The reason for this recommendation is for the heat-affected zone which is the main part should be on the right side and not the left side. The wasted part is meant for the left side and hence you should stick to that pattern.
Step 4: Put Together A Scrap Metal
Most times when working, accidents could occur, which is why safeguards are expected to be well-positioned. This is not to say that scrap metals are safeguards, but the essence of having them in place is to prevent fire outages from happening.
However, before gathering scrap metal, you should ensure that they are set up on a surface free from combustion. In addition, fire extinguishers shouldn’t be ignored, even after gathering scraps as they are of utmost importance. Plus, you should check the date of the fire extinguisher to confirm if it’s still usable.
Step 5: Ensure The Current Is Set
The next step after putting together a scrap metal is to ensure you turn off the electrical charge, or rather check if it is on before having it plugged in. For knowledge purposes, it is ideal for an 18-mm piece of metal to be set at 25 which is the current amperage.
Step 6: Have The Cut Inspected And Make Changes To The Current
It is always important that you carry out the cut correctly. Hence, to begin you would have to ensure that the plasma cutter’s heat setting is turned down. That way, it makes it easier to tell if you are on the right path in terms of the cut. Plus, if the current isn’t suitable or a bit too high, you might want to have it adjusted.
Step 7: Consider Safety Factors
Although this isn’t part of the setup process, it is still important to bear in mind the safety factors as they cannot be overemphasized. Once this is ignored, there is every possibility of you damaging the plasma cutter or causing harm to yourself. Some of the safety factors that should not be ignored are:
(a) It is important to seek help when it appears you are a bit stuck in the process, especially when trying to set up. But, unfortunately, this is one aspect a lot of users fail to adhere to. Instead, they try to do it themselves even when they are a bit confused.
(b) Do not be in haste to complete the setup; instead, have a critical examination of the steps so as not to derail from the setup. In essence, following the setup is important and it shouldn’t be rushed as it is better to do it properly and have a smooth process than failing to get them set up correctly.
(c) Ensure protective coverings are in place. Examples of protective coverings are; nose masks, hand gloves, and eye goggles.
How To Use A Plasma Cutter Correctly
It is one thing to set up a plasma cutter, it is another to use it correctly. Most times, people have a hard time trying to make use of a plasma cutter.
However, one should feel uncomfortable when trying to make use of it as it is relatively easy and convenient to use. There are numerous advantages of using a plasma cutter, such as its easy use around worksites and it is void of preheat cycle to name a few.
But, our focus is on its use, which is why we have a step-by-step process of how to use it correctly.
Step By Step Ways Of Using A Plasma Cutter Correctly
Below is a detailed step-by-step way of using the plasma cutter.
Step 1: Ensure A Neat Working Environment
It is always advisable to ensure the environment is free of specks of dirt before starting any task. Similarly, it is important to keep a clean environment before setting and making use of the plasma cutter. Dust and debris if been found around the unit can have a ripple effect on the cooling fan, given that it could invariably lead to the unit’s damage.
Step 2: Plug In The Plasma Cutter
After ensuring a neat environment void of dust and debris, the next line of action to take would be to plug in the plasma cutter. To avoid an electric shock or an incident, it is expected that the device is first powered off before you finally plug it in.
Step 3: Have The Air Compressor Connected
Some plasma cutters do not come with built-in compressors. If you face such a challenge, you have to ensure the external air compressor is connected to the unit. Once that is achieved, you would need to have the air compressor turned on.
Step 4: Have The Machine Turned On
To achieve this, the next step would be to check behind the unit, as that is where you would most likely see the on and off switch. Then once located, you can have the machine turned on.
Step 5: Have The Ground Clap Attached
The importance of having a ground clap is to enable you to carry out the cut.
Step 6: Cut The Metal
Before anything else, the nozzle head should be at the edge of the base metal. Also, you might want to use the plasma templates if there is one to enable you to carry out an effective cut.
Step 7: Ensure The Machine Is Turned Off
After successfully carrying out the cut, you must turn off the machine and have the ground clamp disconnected.
Step 8: Turn Off The Air And Allow The Torch To Cool Off
This is practically the last step once you are through making use of the plasma cutter. To this effect, you should turn off the air and wind up the hoses before having to wrap up the airline as well as the torch and ground line.
Read More: How Does a Plasma Cutter Work Correctly
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Shade Lens Is Required For Plasma Cutting?
A: Hobart 770726 Shade 5. However, other interesting shade lenses to try out, such as the Bolle 40089 safety shade 5, Hypertherm 017035 cutting goggles shade 5, and the Miller electric 235658 shade 5.0. They all have different weight specifications, designs, and material types, as some are a bit heavy and others lighter. So, these mentioned shade lenses would give you the comfort you need as well as being productive with the task.
Q: What Kind Of Eye Protection Is Needed For A Plasma Cutter?
A: Yellow lenses safety glasses. The reason why using safety glasses that have yellow lenses is to limit or rather reduce the effect of those blue lights. In addition, these lenses could serve as a shield for the operator to prevent those radiations from coming in close contact with your eyes.
Also, aside from the fact that you need the right eye protection, it should be made known that your helmet shouldn’t be ignored. Plus, you would have to put on flame-resistant clothing while ensuring your welding gloves are properly worn.
Q: What Size Breaker Do I Need For A Plasma Cutter
A: 50 amp breaker. As you know, for buildings with over 2000 square feet, the appropriate amp breaker to use is 200. But for this case, a subpanel or small home can make use of a 50 amp breaker.
Those lower breakers such as the 15-amp as well as the 20-amp breakers are meant for those lighter appliances such as lights or even a garage door opener. So, in essence, the deal-breaker for a plasma cutter is a 50 amp breaker. Notwithstanding, there have been cases where people have used the 30 amp breaker without fault.
Q: How Accurate Are Plasma Cutters
A: 95% accurate. Irrespective of such high accuracy, it should be made known that a plasma arc does have some limitations. For example, the bottom part of a shape cut would be less straightforward than the top surface which would come out well. Some of the limitations it has are; the warping effect on a thin material such as aluminum. Also, the gap could be a potential barrier as well.
Lastly, it is always advisable to ignore those manufacturers who make certain promises of having the best machine to produce an accurate detail for the job, have either been misinformed or just saying such to drive up sales. However, it should be made known that plasma cutters are 95% accurate.
Q: Can A MIG Welder Be Used As A Plasma Cutter
A: Yes. There have been questions being asked regarding a MIG welder replacing the plasma cutter in terms of operations. First, it would interest you to know that it is very much possible to use a MIG welder in place of a plasma cutter.
However, it isn’t as straightforward as most people think, as you would need to have certain things in place first. Some of the things needed are; air compressor, a carbon electrode, and also some small items. Lastly, the key difference between a MIG welder and that of a plasma cutter is that, while a MIG doesn’t require much heat during the process, a plasma cutter emits heat during its process.
Q: What All Do You Need For A Plasma Cutter
A: A lot of equipment. For someone to use a plasma cutter, you have to think of safety before anything else. Most times, many individuals neglect the safety aspects, which later comes to harm them in the future. So, for a start, you would need some safety gear.
To protect your hands, welding gloves is essential. To protect your feet, it is expected that you put on a safety shoe, and it should be properly laced and tied. Plus, you would need a safety helmet and good eye goggles to protect your eyes. Moreover, it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a fire extinguisher as having one by your side can simply not be ignored.
Q: Do You Need A Welding Helmet For Plasma Cutting
A: No. You do not need a welding helmet for plasma cutting. However, the fact that you do not need a welding helmet doesn’t mean it can’t be used. Some helmets work well for both plasma cutting and welding. But you may have to search for the one with a shade adjustment setting to make the right adjustment for the task.
In failing to purchase the one with adjustment settings, there is every possibility that the helmet may be difficult to use for a plasma cutter given that it might be a bit too dark. Plus, it should be made known that the helmets being used by welders are a bit darker, but if you can adjust it, you can use it for a plasma cutter.
Q: Do You Need An Air Compressor For A Plasma Cutter?
A: Yes. A plasma cutter needs an air compressor. Several plasma cutters have an air compressor built on them. There are different plasma cutters with an air compressor. However, the prominently used and known ones are:
(i) Hypertherm Powermax 30 Plasma Cutter: When it comes to a machine that can handle odd jobs or you have a welding shop then the Hypertherm powermax 30 plasma cutter is just the right fit. Its air compressor doesn’t add additional load to it, making it very light. However, it should be made known that if being used daily, there is a chance of the internal valve failing, but that isn’t a tedious or expensive part to replace.
(ii) Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter with Built-in Air Compressor: When it comes to a machine with an impressive valve, then this right here edges others in that regard. It has an in-built air compressor, the price is relatively modest and the output range falls between 20 to 40 amps.
(iii) Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Plasma Cutter: This is also a plasma cutter with an air compressor. However, it’s a bit heavy and the price range is on the high side. Nevertheless, this machine is capable of cutting both 1/8 ” plate as well as 3/16″ plate.
Others that have built-in compressors are; Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma Cutter and Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter to name a few.
Q: How Much Does It Cost To Run A Plasma Cutter?
A: Just under 15$ per hour. It isn’t that simple as you would have to carry out several calculations before getting the right estimated cost. Several factors play a role in the cost of running a plasma cutter. First of all, you need to consider the Kw, the size breaker, the gas cost, and lastly the labor cost. There is every possibility that the final cost to run a plasma cutter would vary when you are through with factoring in those elements.
Q: What Should I Pay Attention To When Using A Plasma Cutter:
A: The setup. It is expected that you understand the basics as it would help you in using a plasma cutter. Once you miss out on understanding or following the setup, then you stand every chance of not achieving or using the plasma cutter appropriately.
So, after understanding the setup, you expect to focus on the path you intend to cut. Then, you should try to use a proper technique if you want to get a good cut. Plus, to ensure your cut is of quality, the line of action to take in this regard is to have your consumables checked regularly. After achieving that, you should focus on the travel speed as the faster your travel speed the more likely you will get a clean and accurate cut.
Lastly, you do not want to throw safety precautions as this is also an important area to pay attention to as well. So, in essence, you have to pay attention to plenty of variables when using a plasma cutter. Similarly, when using a MIG welder, there are also some areas you should be attentive to before carrying out operations.
Many people are out there whether they are into cargo ship construction or a worker in general. Whatever the case, maybe they all prefer using a plasma cutter because of the benefits it represents as regards time and cost. As earlier discussed, the steps should be followed accordingly as well as when trying to use the plasma cutter. So, after using the plasma cutter, you must have it wrapped and kept in a suitable place.
Lastly, having gone through each step and giving you an in-depth explanation regarding the plasma cutter, it can now be assumed that you are fully equipped with the necessary information to use this machine.