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How to Choose the Right Plasma System to Cut Metals

If you work with metals, you know by now how hard it is to cut metals, especially if you are creating irregular-shaped pieces. You may cut metals using different tools such as Jig Saws, sheet metal snips, circular saws, angle grinders, and air saws; however, if you are looking for a metal-cutting tool that you can handle proficiently by hand, then a plasma cutter is the ideal cutting tool for you.

What are Plasma Cutters? 

Plasma cutters, such as the Hypertherm Powermax 45, send out an electric arc using a gas that passes through a very small and constricted opening. This confined opening allows the electric arc to generate extreme heat, which converts the gas into plasma, considered the fourth state of matter. Because plasma’s temperatures can reach up to 45000 degrees Fahrenheit, it can pass through metal materials such as aluminium, brass, copper, and steel. The cutting process creates cleaner cuts and slices and can be used to create more solid constructs.

How to Choose the Right Plasma System to Cut Metals

If your work involves cutting and manufacturing metallic constructs, it is best to have your plasma cutter. However, with all the plasma cutter models out there, choosing the right one for you may be challenging. Here are some tips on how to choose the right plasma system for your metal-cutting needs.

Determine Your Cutting Needs. The best way to know what cutting tool to purchase is to know the types of cutting you will perform most of the time. Are you planning to cut metal by hand or on a table? Do you prefer to have a portable cutting system? What type of metal will you be cutting? Your answers to these questions will determine the size of the plasma cutter that you will need. If you can carry your plasma cutter with you, then choose one that is more portable in size.

The thickness of metal. Your choice of plasma cutter will depend on the thickness of the metals that you regularly work on. The ability of plasma cutters to cut through metals will depend on their amperage and voltage capacities. For example, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 has a power output rating of 6.5 kilowatts which is 70% more powerful than other plasma cutters of the same size. This rating means that this plasma cutter model can cut through metals from 16mm to 22mm thick.

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Cutting Speed. Plasma cutters are also given cutting speed ratings. The cutting speed will allow you to determine the output your cutting machine is capable of in cutting metals of specific thickness. For example, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 plasma cutter has a 500mm/min-cut capacity for 16mm metals. However, for metals that are 22mm thick, this plasma cutter can only cut at a rate of 250mm/min. Knowing the cut capacity of your chosen plasma cutter can allow you to calculate how many cuts you can make per hour or per day.

Duty Cycle. Plasma cutters generate extremely high temperatures and use up high amounts of power. It is, therefore, necessary to allow plasma cutters to cool down within ten minutes. The amount of time you can use a plasma cutter within ten minutes is known as the duty cycle. It is important to choose a plasma cutter with a duty cycle that will match your routine length of cutting. For example, the duty cycle of the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is 50% @45 A, 230 V. 1-PH; this setting will allow you to use this plasma model for 5 minutes for every 10 minutes.

Knowing the above specifications of a plasma cutter will allow you to choose a model that will fit your metal-cutting needs.

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