If you need to cut a metal piece and to make it precise, you will need the right tool. You’d want to find something that can cut through metal without taking too much time and clutter-free. This is why plasma cutters are a great option compared to other, traditional methods. Cutting with a plasma cutter will require electricity and compressed air, but the process itself is rather simple. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the gist of it, you will see all its advantages.
In case you have some DIY projects planned, here are some beginner tips for using a plasma cutter.
1. Read the Instruction Manual
It goes without saying, but you really have to read the manual. Some cutters have features that are different than basic ones, and you should always check the instructions first. Most plasma cutters have two settings only; the on/off switch as well as the amperage control. However, some are more complex, and you should always familiarize yourself with the particular model you’ve bought.
2. Take Precaution Measures
Cutting metal is dangerous no matter the process and tools involved. When cutting with a plasma cutter, you are always risking metal sparks hitting you and causing serious harm. This is why you should always wear suitable safety gear.
Using steel toe boots is always recommended, especially if you are working with heavy metals. This will help you save your feet if something heavy falls. Also, you should wear protective clothing to prevent burns and cuts.
Eye damage is another common hazard, so always wear a good plasma helmet. Getting hit with metal particles isn’t fun, and you might even end up losing an eye. No matter how small your project is, always be well protected.
Also, always keep any flammable items away from your workshop! Keep the fire extinguisher with you just in case.
3. Prepare the Cutter
Once you’re ready, make sure that everything is good to go. If you have a machine that uses external air, hook up the line. If you are using the machine that compresses its air, then make sure it’s hooked up to the electricity. Activate the pressure gauge, and the air should be building up. Each machine has its own optimal working pressure, and this is why you should always read the manual first.
Once the cutting has started, the air pressure will go lower. Don’t let this worry you; it should be like this. Once you release the trigger and make a pause with your cutting, the pressure will go to normal.
4. Make Sure Everything Is Well Adjusted
Now that the machine is working, you should make some adjustments. Firstly, make sure the amperage is the right one for the material you’re cutting. The thicker the material, the higher the amperage. The exact amount can be found in the manual.
Also, make sure that everything is alright with the torch. Most plasma cutters have two safety features in them. First one will ensure the machine won’t work if the torch is missing a piece. The second is the trigger guard, which you should lift only once you’ve lined up your torch with your workplace. Make sure everything the torch is lined up 90 degrees to the metal you’re cutting.
5. The Cutting Process
Now, it's time for the cut. Once you've depressed the trigger, the cutting process will start. As you move the machine along the metal, you'll be cutting. Always control your travel speed. If it's too fast, you'll notice the sparks flying towards you and upwards. If it's too slow, you'll most likely have an uneven cut. You'll know that the speed is right if the sparks are flying downwards and the cut is straight.
Once the cut is complete, check out to see if the metal is cut all the way through. If it's not, gently tap everything with a hammer for the pieces to separate. Once you have done this, you have successfully finished cutting metal with a plasma cutter.
Now, you know how to make your first cut with a plasma cutter. We hope you've found this short instruction useful and that you will remain safe during the cutting process. Keep in mind that every next try will be more comfortable and smoother.