Best Gas for Plasma Cutting Aluminum (Read This First!)

There are several ways of cutting aluminum from the use of manual tools to plasma cutting, which is more advanced. Cutting heavy aluminum sheets using manual tools is hectic, tedious, and wastes a lot of time.

Most people have challenges cutting aluminum using a torch. Why is this the case? Once the oxygen comes into contact with aluminum, it creates an aluminum oxide layer. This prevents the oxygen from burning the metal, and the metal will melt.

Also, as the torch moves along, it leaves ragged edges and poorly cut metal. What’s the way forward? Worry less, below here; we look at the best gas for cutting aluminum to give you excellent results.

    Can you use a plasma cutter on aluminum?

    A plasma cutter is a great tool to use on aluminum because it can easily cut through the metal. However, there are some things to keep in mind when using a plasma cutter on this type of material.

    First, make sure that you use a steady hand when cutting because the aluminum can be easily damaged if you are not careful.

    Second, always wear safety gear when using a plasma cutter, including goggles and a mask.

    Finally, make sure that the aluminum is cool to the touch before you start cutting. If it is not, the plasma cutter could cause the metal to heat up and warp.

    How do plasma cutters work on aluminum?

    Are plasma cutters the solution to cutting aluminum? Let’s find out shortly.

    Plasma cutters use electrically conductive gas from a source. Then, transfer it to the metal, thereby cutting it and producing a clean cut. Quite impressive.

    Here lies the answer. A plasma torch in aluminum metal is fast and convenient. Furthermore, you’ll have a finely finished product. All you need is to choose the right gas and have the best combination of gases to increase heat intensity.

    Cutting thick aluminum plates will not be an issue. You can choose the type of gas to use, which will depend on the thickness of metal. It also depends on the bulkiness of the job.

    Where should you use plasma cutters?

    A plasma cutter is a great tool to have in your workshop. They are used to cut through metal very easily. Plasma cutters use an electric arc to create a plasma discharge that melts the metal. This makes them ideal for cutting through thin pieces of metal like sheet metal or tubing. They can also be used for more heavy-duty work like cutting through steel plates.

    Before you start using your plasma cutter, it’s important to understand how they work and the different settings that are available. Most plasma cutters have a power setting, a speed setting, and sometimes a temperature setting.

    The power setting determines how much energy is put into the arc, while the speed setting controls how fast the blade moves across the metal. The temperature setting affects how hot the blade gets and can be used to adjust the width of the cut.

    Types of gases used in cutting aluminum

    Does the type of gas matter? Yes, definitely. Hydrogen, pure air, oxygen, nitrogen, and argon are the gasses for plasma cuts.

    How do you choose the best gas? The most suitable gas for cutting will depend on the type and thickness of the metal. Using any gas alone may not give good results where the metal is thick.   

    To make a point, failure to select the right method to cut metal bars can be very frustrating. Likewise, if you chose the wrong type of gas, you’ll not get quality cuts.

    Meanwhile, some gasses can cut steel; however, they’re not ideal in cutting aluminum. Pure air and oxygen may cut other metals. Though it’s not suitable for cutting aluminum.

    Which gases offer the best results for cutting aluminum?

    1. Hydrogen

    Hydrogen gas is a good conductor of heat and cools hot, smooth, and shiny surfaces very fast.

    • It can be used in cutting light aluminum metals. It’s also cheap and readily available.
    • Hydrogen is easy to store and can combine with argon to enhance its heat intensity. Therefore, it’s suitable for cutting thick metal. You only need to get the correct ratio when combining with other gases.   

    2. Argon hydrogen (n2)

    Argon hydrogen is a combination of argon and hydrogen gases. 

    • It’s excellent in producing mighty hot flames capable of cutting thick aluminum plates. It’s also suitable for cutting thick stainless metals.
    • It produces a lot of heat, which is ideal for splitting thick sheets of metal.   
    • It cuts the thickness of more than ½ inch. It should be mixed in a ratio of 35% hydrogen, 65% argon. Argon hydrogen is the hottest burning plasma gas which provides maximum cutting capacity.
    • Fair enough, you’ll benefit from hot flames capable of ripping through thick sheets of aluminum. The cuts will emerge cleaner and well finished.
    • Argon gas is suitable for plasma marking. For you to enhance heat intensity, you mix the two gases, argon, and hydrogen. 

    3. Nitrogen

    You can use nitrogen to cut thin aluminum sheets.

    • It’s economical since it’s plenty in the atmosphere. 
    • It’s not suitable for thick aluminum plates as it’s not capable of producing hot flames that can cut through.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

    What gas do you use for plasma cutting?

    The gas you use for plasma cutting is typically an inert gas, such as argon, helium, or nitrogen. However, other gases can also be used, including oxygen and carbon dioxide.

    Inert gases are used because they are non-combustible and will not react with the plasma arc. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are used to increase the cut speed and improve the cut quality.

    Final words

    Using gas to cut aluminum is convenient if you choose the best type of gas. You can select a combination of gases that will help you cut thick aluminum sheets and thin sheets.

    The bottom line is:

    • Aluminum is a durable metal and requires a lot of heat to cut through.
    • Hydrogen, nitrogen, and argon are the most suitable gases for aluminum cuts.

    But that’s not the end of the story, Nitrogen, and argon mixed together will offer the best solution when it comes to bulk and thick cuts.