Plasma Cutters - How Do They Work?

Due to the unique properties of plasma cutting plasma, it is possible to transfer oil through a black metal like a hot knife.


So what is plasma? Plasmacutjunction.com is the fourth state of matter. Most places teach that there are three states of matter. Solid, liquid and gaseous, but really four. The fourth is plasma. Simply put, plasma is an ionized gas, which provides enough energy to release electrons from atoms or molecules and to keep the two ions and electrons together. If you raise the gas to very high temperatures, you will get plasma. Energy begins to separate gas molecules, and atoms begin to split. When fast moving electrons collide with other electrons and ions, they emit a lot of energy. This energy gives the plasma amazing cutting power.


Plasma cutters are activated by sending compressed gas through a small channel to the cutting edge. At the center of this channel is a negatively charged electrode. When the negative electrode is applied to the positive end, when the contact is extended to the positive point metal, the connection produces a chain and a very strong spark. As the gas passes through the channel, the explosive gas heats up until it reaches the fourth state of matter. Plasma temperatures can reach an astonishing 30,000º F - the plasma cutter is capable of cutting anything.


Plasma cutters work by creating a fast plasma current between the negatively charged electrode and the positive.


The advantage of using a plasma cutter is that the metal surface is relatively cool outside the cutting area. This can lead to possible deformation and staining with other fire extinguishers. Plasma is five times faster than conventional torches and does not rely heavily on flammable gases. Most plasma cutters work with gauges and can bend metals quickly and accurately.


Plasma cutting machines are now a major player in the industry. With CNC (digitally controlled) plasma cutting, you can place your shapes on a computer screen and cut them automatically and efficiently.

Plasma cutters cut metal using a plasma flashlight. For this to work, plasma (the fourth state of matter) must be created. Plasma is a liquid (15,000 degrees) containing gas and liquid. Plasma, gas and heat source are two factors required.


Plasma cutters use inert gas (often compressed air) and electricity to make plasma. Plasma cutting equipment is designed to make electrical circuits with cut metal. When the end of the flashlight touches the metal, a circuit is formed and sparks ignite from the tip of the plasma flashlight. This spark travels to the negative electrode in the handle of the flashlight and encounters fast flowing inert gas. When the gas comes in contact with electricity, it heats up to 15,000 degrees and turns into plasma. The plasma comes out of the small mouth and reaches the level you want to cut. The small opening of the plane directs the flow of plasma and causes it to accelerate. Plasma velocity, temperature, and focus allow for laser cutting as well as metal cutting.


When everything is adjusted correctly, the cutting can be very clean, with little effect on the rest of the work.


Plasma cutters require the use of a power grid, so they cut everything that conducts electricity, including copper, aluminum and stainless steel.


Plasma cutting uses two methods to make plasma.


HF (high frequency) connection. This method is commonly used on low cost tools as CNC (computer controlled) is not used for plasma cutting. This method uses high frequency, high voltage sparks to generate plasma. When the plasma touches the material to which the torch is to be cut, it closes the chain, ignites the spark at the head of the torch, and forms plasma.

Pilot Arc. This method is a bit more involved as it produces plasma in two cycles. Step 1: The body of the flashlight produces low current, high voltage circuit, high intensity spark. This explosion produces a small amount of plasma (pilot arc). Second cycle: Before the head of the flashlight touches the metal, the pilot arc stays still, at which point the catalytic pilot allows the air to ignite the central air flow and the plasma cutting begins.

Older versions of plasma cutters (plasma cutters were invented during World War II) introduced arc with high frequency, high voltage circuits. This means that if the operator is not careful, he is at risk of electric shock. These old cars are also difficult to repair and maintain.


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