The Power and Main Components of a Plasma Cutter
Abundant earth metals such as Iron, bronze, copper and lead etc. has been excavated from mines for many thousands of years since prehistoric and protohistoric times. Man always had been fascinated with metals and shaped them in different useful objects such as ornaments, tools and weapons. It has been a quite laborious and a time consuming task to cut and mold metals into object for different uses that only the aristocrats in ancient civilizations could enjoy. During the period between the seventeenth and eighteenth century the industrial revolution started and machines started to take over for cutting metal. One of the greatest invention of the year 1960 for precision cutting metal was the plasma cutter that grew from plasma welding.
Plasma is the fourth form of matter. The three familiar forms are solid, liquid and gas. When a solid object is heated to a certain degree, it turns into liquid and then gas and from there further heating will ionize the gas that can conduct electricity. This state of matter is called plasma. One of the greatest property of plasma is that it has enormous cutting power and no tool other than a plasma cutter can cut metal finer and easier into desired shapes.
The plasma cutter generally falls into two categories.
- Thermal (plasma or laser without the use of oxidizing gas)
- Chemical/Thermal (plasma or laser with oxygen)
Plasma System’s Main Components
The Plasma cutters generally consists of the following three main components.
- Power Supply
- Arc Starting Console
- Plasma Torch
The details of the above three components of plasma cutter are as follows.
Power Supply: The plasma power supply converts one to three phases of AC (Alternating Current) voltage into a steady and constant DC (Direct Current) voltage that ranges from 200 to 400 VDC (Volts Direct Current). The voltage maintains the integrity of the plasma arc throughout the cutting process. This component of the plasma cutter controls the current output according to the thickness, hardness and the type of material being cut.
Arc Starting Console: The Arc Starting Console circuit produces an AC (Alternating Current) voltage of around 5000 VAC (Volts Alternating Current) at 2 MHz (Mega Hertz). This generates a spark inside the plasm torch which in turn creates the plasma arc.
Plasma Torch: The purpose of the plasma torch is to provide proper alignment and cooling of the consumable materials. The three main consumable materials inside the plasma cutter are the electrodes, swirl ring and nozzle. An optional shielding cap can be utilized to gain further cut quality.
In the past, the plasma cutters were quite costly and only places like professional welding shops, well equipped garages and well stocked shops could afford to have them. However, modern plasma cutters have become much cheaper and they are now well within the price range of hobbyists while many latest plasma cutters with inverter technology are very light weight and portable and exceed the quality and performance of the older ones. To come up with a firm decision to buy plasma cutter well suited for your needs, you can refer to the website Cuts Like Butter.