If you want to be able to know how to use a plasma cutter correctly, there are several things that you can do to be able to produce a better-finished product.
The first and most important thing that you can do before beginning is to make sure that you know what you are doing and that you are taking all of the safety precautions that are necessary for a smooth operation to occur.
Clean up the area around you, make sure that there are no tripping hazards, and that there is nothing around that could interfere with your cut.
How to use a plasma cutter – plasma cutting tips
1. Put your safety first
Make sure that you look at the manual for your cutter and wear a mask that has the proper shade to protect your eyes from damage.
It doesn’t take much to damage your eyes, but you want to be able to see what you are doing.
This is a crucial first step to take after getting your cutter as your eyes are one of the easiest things to damage when you are using a welder or cutter of any kind.
2. Do a practice cut
The most important tip that I can give you is that you should do a practice cut beforehand. You may think that this is a waste of time, but it really isn’t when it comes to a plasma cutter.
Trying a practice run will allow you to be able to find the perfect settings for the same type of material that you are working with and will get the jitters out of you so that you don’t mess anything up on the piece that is much more important.
3. Do regular maintenance on your plasma cutter
If you want accuracy, maintaining and changing out the tips of your plasma cutter is extremely important.
Over time, holes can begin to expand or become irregular, which can ruin the straight cuts that you make.
You should take a look at your tips every once and a while and it is never a bad idea to have spare tips lying around if you are doing a big project.
4. Do long cuts
Make sure that you do one long continuous cut rather than multiple cuts.
Stopping and starting your cut can really reduce how clean the cut is, and it also increases the likelihood that you will accidentally bump or move the piece that you are working on and not be able to continue cutting it in the exact same location as before.
Generally, the faster that you move, the cleaner your cut will be.
Make sure that you always change the amperage based on the thickness of the material, or you may find that your cut is ruined.
5. Use a guide
One of the simplest tips I can give you to help make your cut as clean as possible is to make sure that you use a straight edge or a circle guide edge when you are cutting.
There are numerous guides available and using any kind of a guide is going to be a lot more accurate than just using your eyes to perform the cut.
Remember, one thing you can do to help yourself if you are creating a lot of the same cuts over and over again is to make a guide for that particular cut.
Always make sure that you use lots of clamps on your guide or template so that it doesn’t move on you in the middle of your cut.
6. Improve the steadiness of your hand
One of the best ways to improve the steadiness of your hand without the use of a drag shield is to use the hand that you aren’t cutting with to help support the hand that you are cutting with.
Not only will this keep your non-cutting hand out of danger, it will also improve the quality and accuracy of your cuts quite a bit.
7. Use a drag shield if one is available
In order to be able to perform an optimal cut, you need to make sure that you keep the tip somewhere between 1/8th and 1/16th of an inch away from the piece that you are working on.
A drag shield allows you to be able to maintain a proper distance away from your material; you will be able to avoid touching the work by accident which can really have an impact on the quality of your cut.
The nice thing about a drag shield is that it still allows you to be able to move the unit, but it will always stay at an optimal cutting distance away from your materials.
How do you know if you did a good job?
Probably the best way to be able to tell if you did a good job is to take a look at the metal itself. The metal that you just cut should have drag lines on it that travel in the opposite direction of the way that you cut the metal.
These draglines should be at around a 15° angle, and if they aren’t, then it is likely that you were either moving too fast or too slow.
Generally, if you are cutting too fast you will find that there are sparks flying on top of the material when you are cutting.
If you are going too slowly, the tell-tale sign is that the quality of the cut won’t be as good and it may be wider or less accurate than you intended.
Hopefully, after reading this article you will be able to do a better job when using a plasma cutter.
Plasma cutters can be dangerous tools if they aren’t used properly, so always make sure that you are aware of who and what things are around you are all times.
Best of luck with your plasma cutting and I hope that you do an awesome job.