A Plasma cutter is a tool that is used to cut through various types of electrically conductive materials such as steel, copper, aluminum, brass and others by means of an electrical channel of ionized gas called plasma.
There’re different types of plasma cutters from small, handheld machines used by DIYers to large automated CNC cutters used in big industries.
Plasma is a state of matter so hot beyond what our mind can really comprehend.
A plasma cutter flame is really very hot.
But how extremely hot is a plasma cutter, and at what temperature does it cut metals?
Is plasma cutter flame hotter than the Earth’s core? is a plasma cutter really hotter than the sun? How can you modify the heat of a plasma cutter? And what is the reason behind it being hotter than anything else?
These and more are what we will be discussing here. Let’s take you through the world of plasma cutters and our solar system to find out.
How Hot is a Plasma Cutter Flame?
If you ask me how hot a plasma cutter flame is, I will say it’s really, really hot.
It isn’t something you can compare to a flame of a lighter, but something hotter than you can imagine.
When a lighter flame accidentally touches your skin, it doesn’t cause much harm, but plasma flame can cause you to lose your finger.
Imagine how the flame could be. The heat of a plasma cutter can get really intense, up to about 25,000 degrees Celcius! That is approximately 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow! Such a temperature is hot enough to cause you to permanently lose your eye when you look directly into the flame while working.
That is the reason why it’s always advisable to wear all the safety equipment before you start working to keep your body safe.
When you compare plasma with a regular oxyacetylene flame (the flame in the regular Oxyfuel welding machine), you will find out that plasma is about 5 times hotter than oxyacetylene flame.
The latter is known to emit a heat that is only about 5000 degrees Celsius, i.e. 9000 degrees Fahrenheit. You see! The reason why plasma is by far better for cutting metals is the whopping amount of heat it produces.
A plasma cutter does its work so quickly and fastly regardless of the high amount of temperature it releases. Hence, it’s demand in the welding and construction industries.
Because of their ability to reach such a high temperature within a short time, plasma cutters are known to consume high electric power. Therefore, using it only when required can help save you from paying hefty electricity bills.
Is A Plasma Cutter Hotter Than The Sun?
Is a plasma cutter hotter than the sun? Of course, yes.
Many people argue about whether or not a plasma cutter is hotter than the sun. I will definitely say yes to this question.
However, this depends on how you picture it. The flame of a plasma cutter is certainly a lot hotter than the surface temperature of the Sun.
This is because the average surface temperature of the Sun is around 5505 degrees Celsius (9941 degrees Fahrenheit), whereas, a plasma boost of about 25,000 degrees Celsius (45,000 degrees Fahrenheit).
Therefore. It’s proven that plasma is hotter than the sun, and by calculation, a plasma cutter flame is roughly about 4 and a half sun surfaces worth of heat. While the sun we see is a ball of gas with the different temperature at different times, therefore, comparing the heat of plasma to that of the sun doesn’t give an apt answer to the above question.
Is A Plasma Cutter Hotter Than The Earth’s Core?
Is a plasma cutter hotter than the center of the Earth? Now let’s look at this critically and scientifically.
Well, the hottest naturally occurring thing one can imagine around us is probably the core of the planet. Knowing that a few miles down under our own feet things can get really, very hot. However, the core of the planet is not liquid as some may think, that sounds crazy, right? The core of our planet is solid but still too hot for you to touch.
Now on the question, “is a plasma cutter flame hotter than the Earth’s core?” We can definitely say yes loudly: a plasma cutter flame is of course, hotter than the Earth’s core by a wide margin. The core of our planet is actually hot, scientists proved that the temperature of the warmest region under our feet is about 6000 degrees Celsius (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit).
Taking into account the heat temperature of plasma (25,000 Celsius), when we divide it by the core temperature of the Earth, we will find out that plasma is almost 4.2 times hotter than the core of the Earth.
The Reason Behind Plasma Being Hotter Than Everything Else
While everyone is aware of the three states of matter: Solid, Liquid, and gas, there exist the fourth one called plasma.
When molecules move from one space to the other, heat is usually produced, and when the surrounding air gets excited, the molecules then became hyperactive to form the plasma. Because the temperature transferred to the air is so high, a different state of matter is formed. Even though this may sound crazy, but the truth is that’s what happened in all plasma cutting machines.
Generally, the more energy you add to a molecule, the further it moves on the scale (excited) in terms of its form of matter and the hotter the plasma.
How can you Modify the Heat of the Plasma?
The heat in plasma is produced by atoms and molecules moving up and down. So when these atoms are calm, they’re stored alongside one another in an orderly manner and stick very well to give a chunk of solid matter. The more these atoms are heated up, the more they begin to dance and move around. Transforming from liquid to gaseous state, and finally to plasma.
After knowing all these (how hot a plasma cutter could get, how hotter it’s compared to the sun and Earth’s core), I know by now you must have started getting second thoughts. Even though you’d a plan to cut metal with a plasma cutter, you’ll want to back-off. Well, plasma cutter is not always as hot as you think. That was only the maximum temperature mentioned.
When you’re using a plasma cutter, you may wish to lower the temperature by adjusting the cutter settings to suit your needs.
You don’t always have to use it at its peak settings for many reasons and especially if the metal is not very thick. Some metal materials can be cut using other methods, so you don’t necessarily have to use a plasma cutter all the time. This will help cut down the cost of your electricity bill.
If you find using a plasma cutter to be too dangerous for you, especially when that’s your first time, seek help from professionals, or more so, use other machines capable of cutting metals without having to generate such intensive temperature.
The Safety Gear that you should Wear
Well, it is always recommended that you should fully protect your body before using a plasma cutter.
You definitely wouldn’t want to use a piece of heavy-duty machinery without protection. That’s too dangerous, you know!
You must have seen experts and professional welders wearing protective gear when working with a plasma cutter.
The more important gears you need include a helmet, protective sunglasses, heat-resistant bodysuit, covered shoes and hand gloves, so you don’t get harmed in any way while working with the plasma cutter. So, keep safe out there.
Having said all, it’s important that you make use of the appropriate temperature while working. Generally, metals like aluminum require lesser heat to cut, and at the same time, it cuts faster than other metals. Whereas, a sheet metal cuts slower and needs more heat to cut.
Therefore, no matter how soft or hard metal is, it’s always important you realise the type of metal before you begin using the machine. And although plasma cutting machines come in different types and each emits heat at different levels, you should choose the right one, and you need not use a single one for every metal cutting projects that come your way.
Lastly, keeping the plasma cutter in its right condition is also very important, especially If you clean and maintain the machine from time to time, you will always find it very friendly to use.