If you have not looked at plasma in the past few years, you should. Manufacturers have made huge strides in terms of cut quality, cut speed, operating cost, and ease of use leading to better productivity and profitability. Contributed by Hypertherm
Due to the high speed and precision cuts combined with low cost, plasma cutting sees widespread use, and is often used in fabrication shops, automotive repair and restoration, and industrial construction. With the capability to work faster and more precisely than older machinery, it is easy to see why the popularity of plasma cutting is on the rise, and why machine shops are opting for plasma cutters instead of traditional CNC milling and turning machines.
Another advantage of CNC plasma cutting is that it can be used for a wide range of metals of varying thicknesses. The cutter can be used for cutting both ferrous as well as non-ferrous metals. Whether a metal is 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick or it is of gauge thickness, plasma systems can cut through them effectively and effortlessly.
Smooth Surface Edges
When looking for cutting systems, machine shops need a cutting system which produces smooth surface edges. One example is the X-Definition plasma cutting system by Hypertherm which is capable of cutting material thicker than 10 mm, and it produces parts with edges that are smoother than fibre laser cut parts.
In addition to smoother cut edges, when the plasma cutting system is used on a high-quality cutting machine, is capable of ISO 9013 Class 1 and 2 tolerances and ISO 9013 Range 2 and 3 cut quality for tolerances of around 0.5 mm.
Additionally, there isn’t a need for needing a separate marking system. Plasma systems have become much more adept at marking workpieces with bend marks, hole locations, or part numbers. Users can even mark with the same consumables used to cut. By varying the torch speed and current level, shallow and deep marks can be alternated.
Cut Speeds That Beat Laser Cutting Systems
At 170 amps, the X-Definition plasma system can cut 10 mm material two times faster than a 4 kW fibre laser. Increase the amperage and material thickness and this gap gets even wider.
The system is also capable of cutting mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, copper and additionally, it easily cuts rusty or “dirty” metal, of which fibre laser cutting systems could have issues with. The system mounted on a high-quality cutting machine is capable of cutting 25 mm at speeds of more than 1,900 mm/min.
Bolt Ready Holes
Hole quality is one of the most frequently discussed topics in regards to CNC plasma cutting. When it comes to hole cutting, plasma systems has always had two big issues. It has always created a severe taper in which the bottom of the hole was much smaller than the top.
In addition, plasma systems leave notches inside the hole that has been cut called a ding or divot. Both issues arise when dropping a bolt through a plasma cut hole becomes impossible. However, these issues can be rectified with “True Hole” technology for mild steel which produces significantly better hole quality than what has been previously possible, for use in conjunction with Hypertherm’s auto gas plasma systems. The technology allows today’s plasma to cut bolt-ready holes with 1:1 and 2:1 diameter‑to‑thickness ratios.
With the X-Definition plasma system, machine shops are able to rely on its Wi-Fi capability, which enables connectivity to desktops, tablets, or smartphones for convenient system monitoring, process set up, and multiple system tracking.
Sensors in the power supply deliver refined diagnostic codes and significantly enhanced system information to reduce troubleshooting time and provide proactive data to improve overall optimisation.
Moreover, better integration between the software and plasma makes the days of trial and error during bevel set-up a thing of the past. Plasma systems now do all the work, allowing users to both cut and make the most common bevel types right from the plasma table.
Improve Profitability With Plasma
A common thread in the technological advancement of plasma cutting since its invention is the continuous reduction in the cost per metre (or foot) of metal cut. This phenomenon is greatly accelerated with X-Definition plasma thanks to a combination of faster cut speeds, longer consumable life, improved cut quality, and greater cutting consistency.
Due to the great precision and efficiency that can be achieved by using plasma cutting, it is little wonder that it has become popular and is being widely used in the manufacturing sectors.