Breaking Down the Basics: What Plasma Cutting Really Means

Breaking Down the Basics: What Plasma Cutting Really Means

Plasma Cutting Definition

If you’re looking for a way to achieve precise cuts on metal, you may want to consider plasma cutting. This technique uses a high-definition plasma cutter to make cuts in metals. The tool uses ionized gas at very high temperatures (above 20,000 degrees Celsius) and high pressure to transfer electric arc power to the metal being cut. As the ionized gas passes through the constricted opening, it is forced out at high speed, thus forming plasma. When plasma hits the workpiece, the gas reverts to its old state and emits intense heat. This melts the metal. The high-pressure low gas removes molten material from the cut.

If you’re wondering about the plasma cutter’s meaning, the name comes from the fact that heat energy from plasma is used to melt the metal and cause the cut. This is unlike with other techniques which rely on physical contact with the metal to achieve cuts. This technique only works on electrically conductive materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and copper. It does not work on materials that are poor conductors, such as glass, paper, or stone.

Benefits of Plasma Cutting

  • Achieve higher quality cuts

There are various factors that affect the quality of a cut. These include the zone affected by heat, top edge fillet, dross as well as the cut angle. The zone affected by heat and the volume of scum generated in the process are especially important when it comes to quality. This technique is superior to flame cutting in these respects. Because the gas blows molten material out of the cut, there is practically no scum left on the edge of the cut. In addition to this, the zone affected by heat is much smaller.

  • Reduced dross production

This technique makes use of ionized gas to melt, which creates a cut in metal. The gas also blows the molten metal out of the cut. This is unlike flame cutting which results in the production of scum or slag that remains on the surface of the metal. Plasma cutting results in the production of less dross. Even when dross is produced, it is easy to knock it off without the need for shoveling or sanding. This reduces the amount of finishing work required after making the cut. This translates to higher productivity.

  • Greater efficiency

There is no requirement for preheating or secondary processing when using this technique. This saves a great deal of time in the production process. In addition to this, this technique can achieve cuts much faster (8.5 times) than when using flame cutting methods. The method is therefore more efficient for production.

  • Cost efficient production

This technique offers greater cost efficiency in production than when using a flame to cut. In analyzing this, you must consider the operating costs per meter or per part. Production involves various costs, such as using consumables, gas, electricity, overhead costs as well as labor. The cost per meter in production are the costs of everything that went into cutting the material per hour divided by the total length in meters of the material cut within the hour. The cost per part is the total cut required to produce a single part multiplied by the operating cost per meter. A HD plasma cutter will cut faster and produce more parts in any given period than a flame cutter making it more cost-efficient.

  • Ease of use

Using a high-density plasma cutter is more straightforward than with machines that use flames. These machines are highly stable. They are also easy to operate. You won’t require as much time to learn or master how to use the machine. Many experienced technicians can hit the ground running much faster than with cutters using oxyfuel

  • Greater profit margins

Because production costs are lower with this technique, you can achieve greater profit margins. Using this technique will help to save money and increase productivity. The more parts you are able to produce per hour will mean an increase in your overall profit.

  • Greater safety

Safety is a great concern when it comes to making cuts in metals. Using a mixture of oxygen and fuel gases such as acetylene, propylene, propane or natural gas exposes workers to high risk of explosion. Plasma systems operate using compressed air. There is no requirement for the use of flammable gases. The risk of explosions is lower. There is also reduced odor and noise.


No technique is perfect. There are various drawbacks to using this technology. These include:

  • The generation of harmful gases

  • Slag produced during the process must be ground and this will increase the labor costs associated with the process.

  • It is not suitable for cutting thin sheets of metal due to the heat produced

  • The cost of consumables is relatively high because they are consumed relatively quickly.

If you’re interested in plasma cutting, contact us, FM Sheet Metal Inc. You can rely on our skilled technicians and state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve high precision cuts cost effectively.

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