In the past, the plasma cutting process was quite complex and the equipment could be operated only by trained technicians. You needed to change the pierce heights, pierce delays, adjust the gas mixtures before every change of material or thickness that was being cut in order to get a reliable and accurate cut.
However, all this has changed in the last few years thanks to technological advancements in plasma cutting. The calibration process has been automated and now plasma cutting has become a highly precise process. Today, the CNC technology has enabled plasma cutting systems to maintain the highest levels of control over the quality and precision of the plasma cutting process.
The plasma cutter is connected to the CNC controller that controls the motion of the cutting head which allows the controller to factor in all the aspects that may affect the cut quality. When the material being cut, the thickness or the plasma cutting process is changed, the feed rate, pierce height, pierce delay and the gas mixture need to be adjusted. With a CNC plasma cutting system, the operator does not have to adjust these settings manually but can simply load the material that requires cutting and select the type of material from the menu on the machine. The plasma unit and the machine are automatically configured by the CNC controller. This process helps to reduce the setup time and eliminates human error and in turn, there is a great improvement in production time, efficiency and quality.
From the User’s Perspective
Typically, a nested sheet of the parts is created by the operator on a CAD/CAM system, who saves the machine-ready file on the computer. Modern CNC systems have the facility of an inbuilt Ethernet connection and are able to communicate via the DNC using a regular IP or TCP to the operator’s computer or to the server. The operator loads the material and chooses the material type from the list at the plasma cutting machine. The operator is prompted by the controller to then insert the suitable plasma consumables required for the particular job. The operator selects the appropriate job and begins cutting.
If the plasma cutting system has a bar code scanner, a printed work order can be produced by the computer for all the cutting jobs. The operator can simply scan in the appropriate code for the particular job, load the material and start cutting.
Improvements in the Plasma Cutting Process
Many older plasma cutting systems require cumbersome manual adjustments in order to cut parts that have inferior edge-quality. However, technological advancements are reducing all these inefficiencies rapidly. The latest fine plasma cutting process is more accurate and the parts produced using this 200-amp plasma cutting are smooth, precise and almost dross-free.
Today, several companies are working towards technological advancements in the plasma cutting arena with the objective of making this process faster, more reliable, efficient, accurate and easier to use.