Did you know the metal wholesaling industry is worth $223.9 billion dollars just in the US? Whether you’re using metal to create the steel gates you see in front of homes or the brass casing of your living room’s lightbulb, metal is used in countless different ways. Even the giant copper “welcome” sign on the front door of your local alehouse is constructed from metal.
Have you ever wondered how these metal objects get made? The answer is plasma cutting.
What is plasma cutting, how does it work, and what are its different uses? Get the answers in this plasma cutting 101 guide. Let’s begin.
Plasma Cutting Explained
Metal gets cut in two ways – mechanically or thermally.
Mechanical cutting is the use of force-producing tools like hack saws, drills, or shears to cut metal. Thermal cutting uses heat-producing tools like welding, water jets, or lasers to melt and form metal.
Plasma cutting is a thermal cutting technique that uses superheated gas to melt metal. Plasma cutters can melt any highly conductive metal.
Often referred to as the fourth state of matter, plasma is the most common form of matter in the universe. It makes up over 99% of the visible universe. Neon fluorescent lights, lightning, and even stars are all made up of plasma.
Plasma gets created by feeding gases a strong electrical current. Plasma is ionized, highly conductive, and superheated. These properties make it deal for cutting thick sheets of metal.
How Does Plasma Cutting Work?
Using plate processing machines, a stream of compressed gas (like nitrogen or oxygen) gets heated using electricity, creating plasma. The plasma gets shot through metal sheets and the steam formed from contact emits intense heat. Metal sheets start to melt from the heat and the molten pieces get blown away by the speed of the compressed gases.
The plasma cutting process is fast, efficient, and precise. Plasma can cut metal pieces extremely thin and to almost any desired shape. Plasma cutters are also easy to use and require a relatively low level of maintenance.
The Different Plasma Cutting Applications
Plasma cutting is most often used in construction, automotive repair, and design. Let’s take a look at how plasma cutting gets used in each.
In industrial construction, plasma cutters are used for projects both small and large. Portable cutters are usually preferred for smaller projects because they cut metal faster than standard oxygen torches. For large-scale construction projects, CNC plasma cutter tables are preferred.
Body shops use plasma cutting to melt metal on cars during the fabrication or restoration process. Plasma cutters remove sheet metal, rusting nuts, and bolts, and fabricate metal frames.
The precision of plasma cutting allows for any 2D design to be created in conductive metals. For this reason, artists and designers use plasma tables to bring designs to life.
The Bottom-Line on Plasma Cutting
Hopefully, you just learned a thing or two about the fourth state of matter. Plasma cutting is a powerful, fast, and efficient industrial manufacturing tool with an array of applications.
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