Plasma cutter questions
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    23

    Plasma cutter questions

    In cutting shapes plama cutters seem to do well with flat surfaces, but what about rounds? If you have a "1/2" plasma cutter are you limited to 1/2" rounds or can you even cut that? The distance from the torch tip to the metal seems to be important so it does not seem like you can just slice it like flat surfaces. Are there any shapes that are difficult or impossible to cut with a plasma torch?

    And what about the metal itself? Can it cut copper bars? Can it cut lead ingots? I saw one post on the internet that said a plasma torch runs at 60,000 deg F so it can cut anything. That does not seem to be true - fits into the "if it's to good to be true, it probably is" category.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    410

    Re: Plasma cutter questions

    I'm no expert but I do have a plasma cutter.

    When cutting pipe you don't go all the way through like when using a saw. Rotate the pipe or square tubing as you cut. Or if it is not able to be rotated you have to follow it around the circumference.

    It will cut anything that conducts electricity although I haven't tried EVERYTHING that conducts electricity.

    It will not cut straight through fiber core cable as I recently found out. The fiber core doesn't conduct electricity. A wire core cable cut very nicely. Chain is no problem.

    Not exactly clear what you mean by a "1/2" plasma cutter. If you mean that the cutter is rated to cut 1/2" steel then it will cut that at a reasonable travel speed. A 1/2" round bar should not be a problem. That is not a real powerful plasma cutter but if that is what you need to do the job then it is enough.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,175

    Re: Plasma cutter questions

    Kind of depends on the plasma cutter, and the way the manufacturer determines its specificiations and capabilities.

    As an example.....a Hypertherm Powermax45 is rated to sever a maximum of 1-1/4" , mine will easily sever 1-1/2". It cuts round stock such as bolts, nuts etc very well.

    A plasma arc will cut just about anything that conducts electricity.....although not all at the same speeds. Lead cuts well.....but don't breath the fumes. Copper cuts well, but at much slower speeds than steel as it conducts heat very quickly away from the cut edge.

    Plasma cutting was first patented in 1957, has been used very widely in industrial applications since then. Perhaps the largest expansion of the plasma cutting technology was when air plasma systems were developed in the early 1980's, as well as with development of more portable inverter based power supplies and easier to use hand held plasma torches from the late 1980's thru the present time.

    There is a wide variation of performance and capability from manufacturer to manufacturer. You can buy a 60 Amp import hand held plasma for $600, or a 65 Amp industrial quality plasma from a major US manufacturer for $2600. The more expensive unit will cut circles around the import, will cost less to operate (consumable parts last many time longer) will cut thicker, will cut faster, and will cut with better quality. Further, the pricier machine will still be running and supported by its manufacturer in 20 years! So, keep in mind, not all plasma systems are created equal...if it sounds too good to be true...it probably is!

    Jim

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    195

    Re: Plasma cutter questions

    I personally would not cut lead with plasma. Turning lead into a vapor sounds like a very bad idea. Remember the term "Crazier then a Mad Hatter"? Hat makers steamed mercury to brush hats. It did not effect them well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    23

    Re: Plasma cutter questions

    Thanks to everyone. I'm aware of the hazards of lead, mercury, cadium and a few other heavy metals, especially the vapor, but thanks for the reminder. Never hurts to volunteer info, especially something that will keep people safe. Thanks.

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