7 Plasma Cutting Tips and Tricks (Can Make You Invincible!)

• Post By: Brandon M. Fox  • Updated: 03/25/22

Do you own a plasma cutter, or are you about to buy one? Read our top best plasma cutter for the money reviews.

Whether you’re working at your workshop or home, a functional machine is every DIY hobbyist’s dream. However, things might not go as expected, and your adorable machine might stall midway. It could be due to a defect or avoidable mistakes. 

The catchphrase inspects first then cut can be of use when working with a plasma cutter. What does this mean for you? Proper use of your machine will save time, reduce costs and earn money with plasma cutter projects.

Below here, we’ve compiled some plasma cutting tips and tricks. Let’s jump right in.

1. Initiate the arc with air pressure

Sometimes the plasma cutter may fail to initiate an arc or may break when cutting. This happens when there’s little or no pressure, necessary for cooling the consumables and protect the tungsten. 

  • Refrain from turning the trigger before flipping the air pressure value as this can damage the electrode. Always remember to turn the air pressure valve that feeds the air channel.
  • Study operation manual of the plasma cutter to know the air pressure requirements.  

2. Ensure there’s constant speed when cutting

In case you might be asking yourself what causes of plasma cutter to cut out? Here is the answer.

Most people, especially beginners, complain of the machine cutting out. This typically occurs when the machine is moving slower than normal, especially at high amps.

Usually, plasma cutting involves the passage of compressed gas through an electrode by creating a circuit. When this happens, the nozzle tip touches the metal up to 38mm in thickness and creates a powerful spark. It requires a temperature of between 25,000- and 30,000-degrees Fahrenheit to melt the metal. (Read more)

The gas pressure controls the area where the plasma beam lands, thus cutting through metal effortlessly. This cycle should be continuous as long as there’s a constant power supply, and the plasma touches them metal.  You’re probably wondering why speed is crucial when cutting.

  • Low speeds when cutting at high amps can overheat the torch.
  • Slow speed leads to a build-up of dross on the backside of the workpiece. On the other hand, very high speed may lead to splashback which can cause fast wear to consumable 
  • The arc may terminate and drag the torch nozzle on your workpiece. 

Fortunately, you can adjust the speed on your nozzle as soon as you realize you’re not applying the correct speed. 

For instance, if your workpiece is 4mm and the machine is 30A, you may set an amp of 20A to obtain a good speed. However, if you set to 30A, you’ll get fast speed.

  • How do you conform to the machine’s travel speed? Do a sample cut before doing the final cut? You’ll be able to know if you are in the right amperage settings.  
  • Start by connecting the Plasma to an electric supply preferably 415V or 240V
  • Set the correct voltage on the plasma cutter
  • You see, low voltage means slowing the speed of the cutter and reducing its power. For maximum benefits, ensure the voltage settings are correct.

Related: AC/DC TIG Welder Plasma Cutter Combo Review

3. Avoid dragging the nozzle on the workpiece

What is the plasma cutter drag tip?

Quite often, you’ll find beginners dragging the nozzle on the workpiece, which can lead to overheating. Simply put, it can expose the torch nozzle to a lot of slags and damage it quickly.

  • For you to get a clear and even edges, the torch nozzle must keep continuous contact with the work surface until you finish cutting.
  • Use one hand to hold the torch and support the machine using the other hand. Thus, there’s an optimal distance between the workpiece and the nozzle tip.  
  • Place your hand firmly placed on the workpiece without moving.

4. Ensure there’s an adequate air dryer on the compressor

What causes uneven cuts? An air dryer’s function is to ensure the air channel is dry as the fire burns in the torch. Sometimes water will put out the fire and cause erratic cutting.  

  • Here’s the kicker, before you replace your machine, do a little inspection of the inside. Ensure you have a water separator inside the channel or upgrade the compressor by installing a desiccant system.
  • Always drain the water separator before working on your workpieces.

5. Regular maintenance

Think of your plasma cutter like a car that needs a constant oil change. It’s much cheaper than buying a new engine. Replacing the machine consumable is cost-effective than replacing its torch.

  • How will you know that the consumables need replacements? Regular inspection of the parts for damage is essential. If the nozzle has oxide residue on the outside, this should raise a red flag that it’s gouging and need replacement.
  • Inspect the electrode, and deeper pitting is an indication that you need to replace it. Examine the gas channels for cracks and dirt in the holes and replace them immediately. 
  • Check on the conductive joints of the torch for looseness. Inspect if there’s a water leak or a disjointed cable. Promptly replace the protective cover and check the water temperature. It turns out that when the water is freezing, the machine won’t function

6. Cutting with precision

It’s vital to establish your cutting path first before the actual cutting. Cutting techniques range from pull-push, drag right or left. Chose the one in which you are comfortable and apply. The majority of plasma cutters apply a pull cutting direction as you’re not likely to lose focus from your starting to finishing point. What’s about the harbor plasma cutter?

Read here: Review of Harbor Freight Plasma Cutters & Best Alternative

How do you achieve a straight line cut?

  • While the torch is still on the surface of the workpiece practice moving it on a straight line to establish if the setup is perfect. This will also help you to know if a long cut is made easy without first halting the cutting.  
  • Your movement should be as free as possible to enable you to have a well-finished end product. 
  • It’s often difficult to have a clear view of what you’re cutting. However, you can place your workpiece correctly on the work surface by ensuring it’s not slanting, bent, or warped.  
  • Minimize the torch angle by favoring a straight angle. You can do this by maintaining a proper work level by keeping the torch at 90 degrees to the working table. Thus, this will help in achieving a straight cut line on the workpiece.  
  • You may use a workbench to place your workpiece or lay it on the concrete floor. It will give you a more comfortable position rather than kneeling or squatting to reach the floor level.

7. Quality of the consumables

Still not convinced? The quality of your plasma cutter and consumables matters a lot. The quality of the cord and the nozzle should be top-notch.

  • But wait, most beginners like to use a long or short extension cord. This can interfere with the arc while initiating, and this fails to cut thick metal. It can also cause the machine settings not to match when cutting. 
  • An enlarged nozzle or one with a scratched center causes the plasma beam to meander around, thereby losing its punching power. Don’t allow the nozzle to wear out as it can burn the tungsten.

Bonus tips

The first thing to remember is that you should always use the right consumables for your machine and material. Different materials require different types of plasma consumables in order to be cut effectively.

Secondly, you should make sure that your material is properly prepared before you begin cutting. This means that you should remove all contaminants and oils from the surface. Oils can cause smoke and sparks during the cutting process, which can lead to poor quality cuts.

Finally, it is important to adjust your settings correctly for each material thickness. This includes both the power and gas settings on your machine. If you do not set them correctly, you may end up with poor quality cuts or even damaging your machine.

Conclusion

For you to achieve quality cuts, it depends on the material, duration, and quality of the metal.

  • Best of all, a lot of practice and adjustments before the actual project is necessary.
  • Maintain constant speed and ensure consistency when cutting.
  • You can pay attention to the variations of your plasma cutter every time you start on a new project to ensure you set it right.  

Our final thoughts, by following the CNC plasma cutting tips and tricks, your machine will last and perform exceptionally.

Brandon M. Fox

I have completed Diploma at Welding. I have spent 10+ years in Welding. Now love to write about welding and welding products and share my own experiences. Find me: Twitter | Facebook

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