If you are like me, I had a small project that could benefit from a plasma cutter. However, I didn’t want to spend a significant amount of my heard earned money for just one little project. So I asked myself, what are the other plasma cutter uses?
I was surprised as I asked around on what or how a plasma cutter can be used for and realized that it was a good tool for the money.
Plasma cutters are precision tools that can cut most types of metal and thicknesses. They are useful across a variety of applications. Different amps fit different cutting needs – for example, fewer amps are needed to cut ¼” sheet metal than to cut a 1 inch plate.
Plasma cutters work by sending an arc of electric current through a high-speed stream of inert gas, usually compressed air. This electrical arc ionizes the gas molecules, turning a portion into plasma that is hot enough to cut metal.
Unlike saws, which throw off metal bits and fragments, or other torch types that tend to leave “dross” on the cut edge, plasma torches cut relatively cleanly with little debris. What’s left is usually quite easy to remove.
Plasma Cutter Safety
Before anything, remember safety is an important issue. When using a plasma cutter make sure you have appropriate safety goggles which are necessary for UV protection from the electrical arc and in some cases protect you from molten particles flying around. Heavy gloves, hearing protection, welding helmet, respirator, proper footwear and protective clothing are recommended as well to avoid burns. Check out our more detailed post on plasma cutter safety.
Plasma Cutter Uses
Metal artists often use plasma cutters to make precise cuts in their metal artwork. These cutters allow the artist to cut out intricate shapes. The level of detail is possible because plasma cutters cut along finely drawn lines without the excess heat that warps thin metals and only very small cut width. A plasma cutter can also be used by an artist to create templates or stencils for other imaginative uses. Check out some art we have seen on our Pinterest Page.
Contractor and Trade Work
Many plasma cutters are small and portable so contractors and trade workers can use plasma cutters in the field, saving significant time and costs. For example, a small suitcase-sized, 50-amp cutter can move at roughly 20 inches per minute through ¼” steel. Immediate adjustments done onsite make any job run smoother while precise cuts save additional time. A few contractors who use plasma cutters include the following.
|Profession/Trade||Plasma Cutter Uses|
|Plumbers||Cutting pipe on the job saves time, and smooth edges help pipes fit together properly.|
|HVAC/Refrigeration||Contractors can cut for installations and make repairs on sheet metal without returning to the shop to cut new pieces.|
|General/Sub Contractors||Construction elements involving metal can occur with greater ease, and detailed metalwork is also possible.|
|Shop/Industry Fabrication||Precise, detailed cuts can be made in bulk when a CNC machine is added to a plasma cutter. They also can do multi-axis cuts to make seam welding better and can do repeated patterns precisely and very quickly.|
Cutting away crappy or busted welds with a plasma cutter’s is much easier as compared to other torch types. Car repair, racing and/or demolition derby enthusiasts are a good example of people who can use one. A plasma cutter will make quick work of fenders, quarter panels, trailer hitches and mufflers. Farmers also find greater ease in repairing tractors, implements, harvesters, watering tanks, fencing and other equipment with plasma cutters.
Demolition and Recycling
Plasma cutters make quick work of almost any metal sheets, blocks, and metallic pipes during demolition. Plasma cutters are also far less messy than other methods that can leave behind lots of debris. Those in the scrap metal or recycling industries find similar advantages.
CNC Plasma Cutting
CNC or Computer Numberical Control is an automated control of a plasma torch that allows the computer and various gears and motors to make extremely precise cuts on a whole host of metal sheets, tubes, or even chunks of metal.
In tublar and pipe, the CNC head is typically fixed and the piece moves to help create the cuts. However there are applications where the CNC head can tilt to make chamfers or countersinks.
There are two types of CNC cuts–two dimensional and three dimensional.
Two Dimensional (2D) is typically done on a flat sheet of metal and involves cuts at 90 degrees to the flat metal. These are very detailed and accurate cuts. They often can cut many parts on a large 4×8 sheet of metal.
Three Dimensional (3d) is like 2D CNC but the plasma torch can be angled at any degree throughout any edge of the part. This is beneficial as you don’t need to grind the edge to make the desired angle. The angular cutting capability of 3D plasma cutting can also be used to create countersunk holes and chamfer edges of profiled holes.
Car and motorcycle enthusiasts/builders, either for business or personal use, can make serious metal enhancements for their vehicles with a plasma cutter. Just about anyone skilled in home repairs can fix lawnmowers, gutters, chain-link fences, barbecues, and more with the aid of this tool. When I worked on my grandfather’s farm, it was quite beneficial when I needed to cut up a fence or fix a hole in the corrugated steel grain bin or shed roof.
So it is quite clear from all the different plasma cutter uses that a plasma cutter is an extremely versatile tool that can be used in many different scenarios. So now that you know what it can do, check out what to look for in a plasma cutter or read one of our detailed reviews.