What Is Plasma Cutting?

Technology

If you’ve ever seen metal being cut, there’s a good chance you’ve seen plasma cutting in action. Plasma cutting is one of the most effective and widely used techniques for cutting metal. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? Here we look at plasma cutting in more detail.

Overview of Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutting is one of several cutting techniques used to cut through metals. Plasma cutting is used to cut through conductive metals like steel, copper and aluminium. It uses an incredibly bright torch to slice through metal sheets, and it is even capable of cutting through very thick sheets.

It uses a simple process that harnesses the power of plasma, which is the fourth state of matter. The technology started to be developed after World War II for welding purposes, and it was improved in the 1960s when it became used for cutting.

While it used to be incredibly expensive, it is now a lot more affordable – so much so that plasma cutters can even be used for personal projects.

How It Works

A plasma cutter is a fascinating tool that uses the unique properties of plasma. While we don’t encounter plasma much in our everyday lives, it is actually a state of matter along with solids, liquids and gases.

When you heat gas to very high temperature, the energy starts to break apart the molecules, which forms plasma. But how is the plasma made in the plasma cutter?

In the plasma cutter, pressurised gas is forced through a small channel that has a negatively charged electrode in the centre. When power is applied and the nozzle contacts the metal, it creates a circuit, generating a powerful spark. This spark heats the gas until it turns into plasma.

The fast jet of hot plasma is then passed through a conductive metal, cutting through it.

There are different types of plasma cutters available. These come in all sizes, from huge cutters that use robots to handheld units (plasma torches or plasma guns) that are used by individuals. 

The size of the plasma cutter being used often depends on the thickness of the metal being cut. But whatever their size, they are all based on the same principle.

Benefits of Plasma Cutting

There are several benefits of using plasma cutting when cutting metal. For a start, it is a very quick and efficient way to cut metal. This is particularly true when cutting metal by hand.

It also tends to be less expensive than other processes for cutting metal, such as laser cutting. This can help to save money and increase profits in manufacturing.

And when compared to some techniques like saw cutting, it is generally considered a safer option.

What Is It Used For?

Plasma cutting is used for a wide range of projects, from metal fabrication projects to construction projects. It is often used in salvage yards, but it is also used by artists for sculptures and decorative metalwork.

An Essential Technology

The plasma cutter is a fascinating tool that allows us to harness the power of plasma. It is no surprise that it is now an essential tool right across the world for many projects involving metalwork.

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