Plasma Cutting: 4 Misperceptions Cleared Up
Plasma cutting systems have been used for nearly half a century, and for good reason – they provide a number of advantages compared to other cutting methods. The question, then, is why isn’t everyone using a plasma cutter?
At least part of the reason is that there’s a lot of misinformation and mystery about plasma cutting. We’re here to set the record straight.
Here are four common misperceptions about plasma cutting – and the truth behind them.
- Misperception #1: Plasma cutting equipment is expensive
While plasma cutting equipment is typically higher priced than equipment used in some other cutting methods, the total cost of working with a plasma cutter may end of being less than with other cutting options. Plasma systems usually cut faster (especially with no heating of the workpiece required) and more accurately (meaning less finishing is needed), which saves you time, money, and materials. Most handheld plasma systems run off of compressed air, which means you’ll also save on fuel and fuel delivery charges compared to methods like oxyfuel cutting. With no gas leaks to worry about, plasma cutting is also safer.
- Misperception #2: Plasma cutting can only be used on thin materials
While this may have been true in its early days, it’s not true anymore – in fact, plasma cutting does offer some distinct advantages on thin materials – like a smaller heat affected zone and less warping – when compared to oxyfuel cutting. Advances in technology have yielded plasma equipment that provides more cutting power and thicker cutting capacity – 1.75” (44 mm) or more – making it good enough for all but your thickest cuts.
- Misperception #3: Plasma cutting can only be used on stainless steel
Another plasma cutting myth! While plasma cutting remains excellent for cutting stainless steel, plasma is effective at cutting any electrically conductive metal, including mild steel. And plasma remains more effective at cutting painted, dirty or even rusted steel, which makes it perfect for heavy equipment repair, automotive restoration, farm equipment maintenance, and many other tasks.
- Misperception #2: Plasma cutting is only good for…well, cutting
Sure, plasma systems can cut. But they can also gouge, pierce and bevel electrically conductive metals of all types. Plasma systems can also be used on X-Y cutting tables, robotic arms, or with pipe cutting and beveling tools, among others.
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