Today, industry depends a great deal on the use of metal and alloys for several building and fabrication purposes. Metals are robust and durable which makes them a logical choice for use in large installations and constructions. Since metals are rigid, they are very difficult to manipulate. So when metals need to be cut precisely and be manipulated to construct large and strong things, say a bridge or aircraft parts, etc., a plasma cutter is used.
Plasma cutters have been in existence since World War II. During the WWII, aircraft factories needed some easy means to cut and join aircraft parts. Due to this a new method of welding evolved, which used inert gas that was passed through an electric arc. Thus, the use of plasma cutters was born. This method made cutting of metal easier and the lines at the joints were sturdier and the cuts were cleaner and more accurate.
Plasma cutters are tools that help to cut all kinds of metals precisely. The wonderful thing about a plasma cutter is that it can easily cut through any metal without any resistance and this is because of the plasma. So what is plasma really and how does it help in cutting metals?
States of Matter
As you would have studied in school, there are four states of matter of which solid, liquid and gas forms are most common. When you heat gas to very high temperatures, the fourth state of matter i.e. plasma is formed.
The heat energy ruptures the gas molecules and the atoms split. Typically, an atom contains protons and neutrons in the nucleus which is surrounded by electrons. In plasma, the electrons get separated from the nucleus. When the heat energy releases the electrons from the atom, they begin to move very rapidly. The electrons are negatively charged while the nuclei contain positive charge, which makes them repel each other and the electrons leave the nuclei and move away. The positive nuclei that are left behind are called ions.
When the electrons that are moving at very high speeds collide with other ions and electrons, they release a lot of energy. This is the energy that gives plasma its immense cutting power and makes them exceptional cutters.
Applications of Plasma Cutters
Essentially, plasma cutting is a process in which electrically conductive materials can be cut with a great deal of accuracy and precision by using an accelerated stream of hot plasma. Plasma cutters can be used for varied applications and it is possible to cut most kinds of metal of any thickness. Usually, metals such as aluminium, steel, copper, etc. are cut using plasma cutters.
Plasma cutting is very commonly used in automotive restoration and repair, industrial construction, welding and fabrication outfits, and salvage and scrap processes. Thanks to the precision in cutting, high speed and low cost, plasma cutters are used widely — from large-scale industrial CNC operations to small hobby shops.
You can find plasma cutters in varied sizes and shapes. There are gigantic plasma cutters with robotic arms used for precise incisions and you can also find compact ones that can be operated by hand. Irrespective of the size and shape, all plasma cutters work on the same principle and function alike.
Plasma cutters are a boon to workmen today. A single tool can give the workmen the ability to bore precise holes, bevel cuts, etc. Not only do they ease the painstaking process of cutting, but it also helps save time by meeting deadlines, which in turn results in customer satisfaction, cost reduction and thus big money savings.