Difficult to make a choice for your new Plasma Cutter? We wrote this special Plasma Cutter buying guide to help you, with the TOP10 of the best sales of the moment, tests, opinions… As in all our buying guides, we have done our best to help you choose the best Plasma Cutter!
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Plasma Cutter Buying Guide
Plasma cutters are popular for working on different types of metals. Professionals and simple enthusiasts alike love this machine, which operates on superheated ionized gas. But what do we really mean by a plasma cutter? What does the word plasma mean? And above all, how to choose a plasma cutter? These questions, and many more about the technical characteristics of this high performance cutting machine, will be addressed in this writing.
What is plasma?
You have probably understood that this is not about blood plasma. It is a question of ionized conductive gas, in which free electrons move.
The use of this gas heated to high temperature in particular allows the cutting of metal sheets up to 160 mm thick. A technique that provides Precision of the order of millimeter.
The latter produces smoke. It would therefore be advisable to use it in a ventilated environment or Outdoors. And don't forget to protect your airways.
What you should know about the plasma cutter
What is the plasma cutter made of?
Like the MMA positions or some TIG welding machines, the plasma cutting machine works with a inverter, which provides the electric arc allowing ionization at the origin of heat of about 22,000 ° C. A compressor, annex or integrated, giving compressed air. A plasma torch and an earth clamp which will attach to the conductive materials or metals to be cut.
More precisely, plasma cutters consist of the following elements:
The head of the cutter
On this part alone, we find:
- The torch, which is held in hand. It in turn consists of approximately four elements For produce plasma, more on some more modern models. It is usually accompanied by cables and hoses of three to four meters to ensure ease and comfort of work.
- The emissive electrode point shaped. She may be in tungsten or in zirconium. Taking into account its use, it is one of the most frequently replaced parts of the head.
- La Tuyère which confines the plasma to the diffuser. Made of pure copper, it is flexible and sensitive to shocks.
- The diffuser made for control air and flow. It is recommended to replace it when its holes are blocked.
- The nozzle to manage the cooling air regulation of the torch. Receiving metal projections when cutting, it must be replaced as soon as it is deformed.
- Skate which is attached to the nozzle to keep the distance between the metal to be cut and the nozzle. This element is optional. You will see the more experienced do without this accessory.
The integrated or auxiliary compressor
The useful air flow rate for the torch is on average 150 liters per minute, at 5 bars. So the compressor is made to produce this air. Moreover, portable plasma cutters equipped with integrated compressor are more and more numerous.
This element of the device transforms alternating current into direct current 230 Volts or 400 Volts, it may or may not have an integrated compressor.
A set of spare parts and consumables
The usefulness of these elements is justified by the frequent need to perform maintenance on the torch.
A ground cable
As its name suggests, it connects the clamp to ground.
Not available on some models, these components are useful for ensuring the precision of cuts.
The latter takes advantage of electronics to transform current generators into intelligent machines.
How does a plasma cutter work?
Concretely, the plasma cutter uses gas heated to high temperature to melt steel at specific points. With this tool, cuts are made at millimeter near.
To fulfill its function, the cutting machine forms a plasma arc by pushing gas into the orifice of its nozzle. It adds to this high pressure flow a electric arc. Thus the jet obtained reaches temperatures up to 22,000 ° C. What to pierce the metal.
The variants of plasma cutters
Usually we find four variants of plasma cutters:
- The double plasma cutter : a model with a second gas intended to cool the cut. This system is designed to ensure good precision.
- The plasma cutter with water protection : on this device, water replaces the second gas and serves as coolant. It also ensures more precision and less off-gas.
- The water injection plasma cutter : sur cette variante, l’eau s’introduit dans l’arc pour une meilleure compression. Ce système requiert plus d’intensité avec un ampérage supérieur à 250 A et un dispositif pour récupérer l’eau. Comprenez ainsi qu’il s’agit d’un découpeur destiné aux ateliers professionnels.
- The automatic plasma cutting bench : this is a tool associated with a computer. Also made for workshops, it is fast, precise, and ensures sharp cutting. More so, it can work with multiple torches. This cutting machine is more suitable for factory activities.
How to choose a plasma cutter?
From industrial use models to portable devices, we have just seen that several shapes and sizes of plasma cutters are available in the market.
For cutting shapes, designs and creations of metal works of art, cutting metals or sheets in industries and workshops? Plasma cutters have won over professionals due to their quality. To name just the reduction of their price, the precision of their cutting and their ease of use.
The choice of a plasma cutter is made by project function. In particular, the needs for thickness to cut, of quality and of cutting speed, the budget of the user and his level of experience.
Things to consider when buying a plasma cutter
Remember the following information. They will enlighten you when choosing a plasma cutter among the devices that make up the wide range on the market. They are related to Price and to Performances cutters
The presence or not of an integrated inverter?
It should be understood that not all plasma cutters always have a integrated inverter. Those who have them are more expensive, but the price is justified by their Portability.
This design of the cutting machine allows for a smaller block size, easier to move. Ideal for the work and mobile services of professionals carrying equipment with them.
The link between power specifications and plasma cutter performance
The price of plasma cutting machines evolve according to the power specifications. The characteristics that determine the Cutting capacity. More precisely, the cutting thickness of the machine and its cutting speed.
Note that these power specifications are linked to two parameters:
Plasma cutters operating with currents of 110 to 120 Volts are cheaper. They have one more limited working capacity.
Models that can be connected to junctions 220 to 240 Volts can tackle thicker metals. They are also more expensive.
Plasma cutting machines operate with electrical currents measured in amperes to produce the cutting arc.
Models for home use produce between 40 and 50 amps. This is sufficient for cutting work handymen. Other devices go as far as 200 amps. They are more expensive, but you will understand that their Performance will justify their cost. Increasing the amperage will greatly improve the working speed of plasma cutters.
So for metals a quarter of an inch or less, the budget, low-amperage models up to 25 amps will do. For parts that are half an inch thick, 50 amps will suffice. And if the metal is more than three-quarters of an inch thick, plasma cutters of 80 amps or more are a must.
Presence of Indicators and means of control
In choosing a plasma cutter, you will need to recognize the devices that will allow you to keep control of their performance. And those who have the indicators designed for this purpose. Thus, the majority of models have a power switch and a way to modulate the current depending on the materials to be worked.
The most recent plasma cutters are equipped LED indicators. Easier to read and placed on the front panel of devices, the latter increase the price of cutters.
There are also devices on the market fitted with digital controls.
The possibility of working outdoors
Some plasma cutters can only be used indoors. Which is not necessarily advantageous with gaseous fumes produced at the time of labor.
Models are designed with housings that allow users more varied uses. Machines safer and more expensive, but suitable for outdoor use. Again, the price is justified.
The presence of automated functions
According to the manufacturers, some plasma cutters are designed with automated functions. There are many, but the most common is cooling fans.
The duty cycle
These words refer to the working time and downtime of a plasma cutter. A cyclical report of 70 % means that out of 10 minutes, seven are usable for the continuous cutting. The remaining three minutes will be devoted to cooling of the machine.
It is a question here of obtaining information from manufacturers or sellers to obtain the best "duty cycle" and optimize working time.
The service life of spare parts and consumables
It influences the expenses user of a plasma cutter. It varies depending on the manufacturer and the use of the machine.
The expensive models usually have a better consumable life. They save on future purchases over the long term.
Quality and precision of cut
Depending on their performance and design, plasma cutters provide different cutting qualities and precision. Some models are equipped with compass or others guiding devices. This allows them to have finer cuts.
From a financial point of view, fineness and cutting quality cost more expensive, but not by much. Users who will be content to do roughing can save money here.
Good to know :
On your safety
Welder's mask, appropriate clothing, gloves, gaiters or even an apron… Remember to put on the appropriate work clothes and equipment before taking your plasma cutter.
Avoid using consumables too worn. This can damage the metal you are working on and cause breakdowns of your torch. Inconvenience can cost you downtime. The notches on the nozzle, the roundness of the orifice, the arc color... Several signs can indicate a consumable or a part to be replaced.
Also remember to check the quality of the edges of your cuts. Inspect your torch components when the fineness of cut changes. And memorize the average life of parts. This will let you know when to inspect or replace parts.
On defining the correct parameters and parts for a task:
Consumables and parameters to be used on the plasma cutter must match the material to be cut and its thickness. Do not hesitate to consult the manual that accompanies the plasma cutting machine. This will help you optimize the life of the parts and keep a good quality of work.
On the torch assembly
During assembly, make sure the pieces are aligned and adjusted. You will optimize the electrical contact, as well as the gas and coolant flow. Also remember to keep the parts clean before and during the assembly of your torch.
On periodic maintenance
A regular maintenance lengthen the lifetime of a torch over several years. Dirt, metal dust or even excess lubricant from the O-ring must be cleaned systematically. For this, a cotton swab and a product designed for electrical contacts are recommended.
On gas and coolant flow rates
These parameters should be monitored daily. Neither too high nor too low, the gas pressure must be constant. Too high, the gas pressure causes priming difficulties.
About cutting speed
This parameter influences the fineness of the cuts. Accumulation of burrs, too large grooves, excess spatter, chamfered edge, are all signs of haste or a lack of speed in the use of a plasma cutter.
Dernière mise à jour : 2021-01-20 02:40:46