Today, the use of plasma cutters has become very popular for all fabrication purposes due to its ease of use and versatility. Plasma cutting machines work when an electric arc is passed via a gas that is then passed through a narrow opening. The gas that is utilised can be oxygen, nitrogen, argon and even shop air. The temperature of the gas is raised to a very high degree, where it is converted into the 4th state of matter i.e. plasma. Since the metal workpiece is part of the circuit, the plasma arc is transferred to the work due to the electrical conductivity of the plasma.
When the gas passes through the narrow opening in the nozzle of the plasma torch, it is constricted at a very high speed similar to when the air is passed through a carburettor. The gas which is at a very high-speed cuts the molten metal and the gas is also spread around the cutting area perimeter and helps to protect the cut.
Advantages of Modern-Day Plasma Cutters
In the modern plasma cutters, a pilot arc is used to ionise the gas between the nozzle and the electrode and produce the plasma before the arc is transferred. Some other methods used to generate the plasma are making use of a high-frequency starting circuit just like in a spark plug and touching the top of the plasma torch to the workpiece to create a spark. However, both these methods are not compatible with automated CNC plasma cutting.
In the process of plasma cutting, it is mostly the electrode and the nozzle of the torch that wears due to use and need regular replacement. In CNC or computer numerically controlled plasma cutting systems, the shape production process is completely automated.
While older CNC machines made use of tape with tiny punched holes to provide instructions to the computer to direct the cutting process, today, modern CNC cutting systems make use of personal computers which are modified to run the CNC machines or they use costly limited-edition computers that are specially made for running CNC plasma cutting machines. Both the types of computers produce the same production speed and cut quality.
In CNC plasma cutting, all you need to do is arrange the shapes to be cut on the computer screen and the CNC machine will cut them automatically without you having to handle the material. The CNC software allows you to program the scaling up or down, setting the pauses for piercing, setting the acceleration and the deceleration at the corners and handle various functions that are not possible to do with electric eye units.
Modern CNC plasma cutting systems are highly advanced and offer extreme versatility and flexibility that allow you to practically cut any type of material quickly and easily.