Buying a plasma cutter for your business is a very critical investment decision and making the correct choice is of utmost importance. If you have decided that the plasma cutting process is most suited for your cutting needs, then you must consider some important factors before making your buying decision. This is going to be the first of a two-part series.
Determining the Metal Thickness That Will Be Cut Frequently
An important factor is to determine what would be the metal thickness that you will be cutting most often. The power sources for plasma cutting are usually rated according to their amperage and cutting ability.
A smaller cutting machine might have the ability to cut metal of a certain thickness, but the quality of the cut may not be too high or the cut may not be precise. You may be left with a cut that barely penetrates the plate while generating quite a lot of dross.
Selecting the Optimum Speed of Cutting
While purchasing a plasma cutting machine, the speeds of cutting for metals of varying thickness must be specified by the manufacturer. If you often cut metal that is ¼” thick, then a machine with higher amperage can cut the metal faster than the one with lower amperage. In case of production cutting, it is a good idea to select a machine that can cut metal twice the normal thickness.
If you will be using the plasma cutting machine for long or you will be using the machine in a mechanized setup, you must ensure to check the machine’s duty cycle. The duty cycle of a plasma cutter is basically the time that you can use the machine constantly to cut before it overheats and requires cooling. If the duty cycle of the cutter is higher, you can use it to cut for a longer period of time without stopping.
Comparing Consumable Cost Vis-à-Vis Consumable Life
A plasma cutter has many consumables that wear over time and require replacement. You must consider a machine that has the least number of consumables. Lesser the number of parts means lesser consumables that must be replaced and hence greater cost savings.
Checking the Machine’s Working Visibility
While you are working on an application, you should be able to see what you are cutting, especially when you are tracing a pattern. The geometry of the torch facilitates visibility. A less bulky and smaller the torch and an extended nozzle will enable you to see better where you are cutting.
Looking for Safety Features
You must always consider a cutting machine that has a true “nozzle-in-place” safety sensor which ensures that your plasma cutter will not start an arc unless the nozzle is in place.
There are many considerations that one must take into account when buying a plasma cutting machine and the aforementioned factors are some of them. We continue to dissect the various factors you should consider when buying a plasma cutting machine in the second part of this series.