What Is Plasma Cutting? (And Why You Need It)

plasma cuttingIf your business has ever needed metal fabrication services and you’ve read up on the topic, you may have wondered, what is plasma cutting?

At Cadet Steel in Denver, Colorado, this is one of our specialties.

In general, plasma cutting is a process that allows for cutting through electrically-conductive materials with a jet of hot plasma. The materials that are most likely used include steel, aluminum, brass, copper and more.

How Plasma Cutting Works

The process is quite in-depth and basically relies on the principle of conductivity. A plasma cutting system uses a “plasma stream” to transfer energy to a conductive work material.

The plasma stream forms by forcing a gas such as nitrogen, oxygen, argon or air to push through a narrow nozzle. An electric current adds energy to the gas flow to ionize it which turns it into a plasma arc with temperatures approaching 40,000˚ F.

The plasma arc cuts by melting the materials and blows away any molten metal.

Why Do You Need Plasma Cutting?

There are countless applications where plasma cutting is highly beneficial. Here are just a few industries that use this method for fabricating the various parts, components and machines required for their business: farming, mining, energy, shipbuilding, construction, automotive, artwork, electronics, pipelines, general manufacturing and more.

Plasma cutting can perform straight, bevel or hole cutting, gouging, fine feature cutting and marking to name a few.

Plasma is the fourth state of matter, the most common three being solids, liquids, and gas.

There are three plasma system components involved when needing this service. Power supply, arc starting console, and a plasma torch. The vast majority of plasma cutting systems are grouped into categories including conventional or precision plasma cutting.

  • Conventional plasma systems typically use shop air as the plasma gas, and the shape of the plasma arc is defined by the hole of the nozzle. The approximate amps of this type of plasma arc are 12-20K amps per square inch. Handheld systems use conventional plasma. Plasma is used in some mechanized applications, where the part tolerances are more lenient.
  • Precision plasma systems (high current density) are designed to produce the clearest, high-quality cuts available with plasma. A precision plasma arc is approximately 40-50K amps per square inch. Multiple gasses such as oxygen, high purity air, nitrogen, and a hydrogen/argon/nitrogen mixture are used as the plasma gas for the best results on a wide variety of conductive materials.

Leave It to the Professionals

Plasma cutting can help tremendously with an idea or project you may have in mind, and it is always best to have someone provide this service which is skilled and has the right tools and technology.

So, the next time you are facing the need for plasma cutting, you now know some of the basics about this process and how it can help with your next metal fabrication needs.

Of course, at Cadet Steel in Denver, we already know the facts about the benefits of plasma cutting, and look forward to collaborating with you. Give us a call today to discuss details and request a free quote.

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