If you are looking for ways to improve your plasma cutting, then you are here at the right place.
Without further ado, let us jump straight into the list of nine simple tips to improve your plasma cutting technique today!
Keep Things Clean
Cleanliness is crucial – not only for accurate cuts but also for the effective maintenance of the plasma cutting machine.
All you need to do is give the metal a quick clean while making sure that there are no rough spots or burrs that the plasma torch can potentially catch on.
Besides, if you are using a straight edge, you should always check the potential surface you are using for the guide – for the same reason of preventing the plasma torch from catching on the rough spots and burrs.
You ought to know that any bumps and imperfections on the straight edge can transfer to your cut, and when this happens, it will leave divots – resulting in a rough cut.
Aim for the Perfect Cutting Distance
If your plasma cutter comes equipped with a pilot arc torch, it means that the tip of the plasma cutter doesn’t need to touch the surface to ignite.
You can either drag the pilot arc torch along the metal or use a standoff guide for your plasma torch to produce a high-quality cut with minimal cleanup requirements.
Use a Good Earth Clamp
With a good-quality earth clamp connection by your side, you can immensely improve your plasma cutting techniques. Similar to welding, plasma cutting machines come with an earth lead and a torch.
If the metal that you are working on is painted or covered in excessive dirt, grease, or any other contaminant, you are least likely to get a good ignition – let alone a precise cut.
The best solution is to ground off the paint and clean the surface contaminants to obtain a high-quality cut with a minimal cleanup requirement.
Always Opt for Sample Runs
Another important tip to improve your plasma cutting skills is sample runs. Before you set your workpiece on the plasma cutting table and start working on it, it is recommended to practice beforehand on a scrap piece with the intention of perfecting travel speed, air psi, and amp range.
By doing so, you will ensure that your cut will be as smooth and accurate as possible with minimal cleanup requirements.
Maintain the Quality of Consumables
One of the very basic things that affect the quality of a cut is the consumables. In order to produce clean cuts, you must keep them in good condition. So, you must make a habit of checking and mounting the tip, electrode, and shroud.
Also, ensure that the consumables can efficiently handle the amps. If you are cutting at eighty amps and your potential consumables are made for 60 amps, then you are more likely to burn through them quicker.
That said, make sure that the consumables are compatible with the plasma cutting machine that you are using.
Practice Dry Runs
Similar to performing sample runs to check your plasma settings, performing dry runs is also recommended. By running dry runs, you will get a better idea of how far you will be capable of reaching a continuous cut before you will have to stop.
Ideally, you will want to do the entire cut in one run while running a dry run. But, if you feel the need to stop in the middle of the run, that is okay. All you need to do is start again where you paused.
If you end up with a small hole at the point where you restarted, you will have to fill it in with a tack weld and grind it back.
Aim at Perfecting the Shape
The freehand cutting of regular shapes is perfectly fine if one has a steady hand. But, if you aim to perfect those straight lines, you might want to use a straight edge to lean your torch up against while you are cutting to obtain immaculate dead-on straight lines.
Depending on your plasma cutting machine and the potential attachments, you might already have cutting attachments as these are essential for cutting perfect circles of all kinds of diameters.
Make the Perfect Start
Another crucial tip to improve your plasma cutting techniques today is to better understand where to start cutting. As a rule of thumb, avoid starting from the middle of the plate – rather, prefer to start your plasma cut from the edge of the plate.
You will see that by starting from the edge, you will obtain flawless ignition without potential sparks flashing back into the tip of the torch. You might have experienced blockages caused by the flashing back of sparks, and now you know how to avoid it.
Let us suppose that you have to start cutting from the middle of the plate; all you need to do is to angle your torch 45-degrees, press the trigger, and subsequently move back 90-degrees to the cutting plate. By doing so, you will spray the sparks away from the tip and also prolong its life and keep it clean.
Use the Right Amps and Travel Speed
The thing about plasma cutting is that your amps and travel speed must work in perfect harmony to get the best possible cut. Ideally, the air pressure needs to run between 80 and 120 psi – depending on the thickness of your cutting material.
Technically, you shouldn’t have trouble running the plasma cutting machine on full amps and adjust the travel speed accordingly. However, you should know that if you were to do this, the consumables might not last as long as they are designed to as they will be exposed to loads of heat.
Most importantly, while you are cutting, the resultant sparks should ideally shoot straight down through the cutting material and not to the side – let alone, splashing back at you.
If the sparks shoot straight down, it is a tell-tale sign that you are doing something right. It also indicates that your amps match the travel speed.