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The Basics of CNC Plasma Cutting

CNC Plasma Table

When you start out in metal fabrication you always need to start with the basics of what the plasma cutting process is. And, even highly experienced metal fabricators sometimes need to go back to the basics of CNC plasma cutting.  You must understand first what plasma cutting is and why it is used and then understand why a fabricator would opt for a CNC plasma cutting system rather than handheld plasma cutting.  Lincoln Electric provides us a description of exactly where we need to start, with what plasma cutting is, “In simplest terms, plasma cutting is a process that uses a high velocity jet of ionized gas that is delivered from a constricting orifice. The high velocity ionized gas, that is, the plasma, conducts electricity from the torch of the plasma cutter to the work piece. The plasma heats the workpiece, melting the material. The high velocity stream of ionized gas mechanically blows the molten metal away, severing the material.”

So, now knowing what the most fundamental part of the basics of CNC plasma cutting is, we must look at why someone would opt for this particular method of fabrication.  Plasma cutting is more diverse when it comes to types of material that it can fabricate.  For example, oxyfuel can only cut certain materials because of how it achieves its cut but plasma cutters can actually cut many more materials.  Additionally, other cutting methods, such as laser, are a much more expensive system investment. Plasma is also able to cut thicker material than other methods.

Next, it is important to look at why a fabricator would opt to use a CNC controller vs handheld or manually operating the plasma torch.  ESAB takes a look at some reasons why someone might choose CNC controlling, “CNC plasma machines usually use a different type of plasma system than hand-held cutting applications, one specifically designed for “mechanized” cutting instead of hand-held cutting. Mechanized plasma systems use a straight barreled torch which can be carried by a machine, and have some type of interface that can be controlled automatically by the CNC. There are some entry level machines that can carry a torch designed for hand-held cutting, such as the PlasmaCAM machines. But any machine designed for serious manufacturing or fabrication will use a mechanized torch and plasma system.”  CNC plasma cutting has been around for many decades but the technology continues to evolve and improve with new capabilities often but it is always good to start with the basics.

Latest News

Still need an oxy-fuel station for the really thick plate?
Not a problem.
Tactical CNC introduces a single oxy-fuel station to compliment your plasma cutting system.
With the new Tactical 5 software, oxy-fuel parameters are also loaded for operator convienience.

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