Plasma cutting is the process of fabricating steel, aluminum, iron, and other metals using intense heat generated by a plasma-fueled torch. It is a powerful means of cutting metal, and when you add CNC controls to the mix, it is also one of the most efficient. CNC stands for computer-numerical control and refers to automated technology that can improve cut quality, reduce waste, and speed production.
How Plasma Cutting Works
A plasma torch functions by channeling oxygen or another gas through a minuscule nozzle at intense speed, while at the same time generating an electric arc that transforms the gas into powerful plasma. The intense heat generated by the plasma is hot enough to melt the metal, while its extreme pressure blows away the molten elements, leaving behind clean cut paths. Because an electrical current is needed to transform the gas into plasma, plasma cutting is only effective at processing electrically conductive metals.
Advantages of Plasma Cutting Machines
Plasma cutting is one of the most popular metal fabrication processes, and this process becomes even more effective when automated by CNC controls. Here are some advantages of CNC plasma cutting technology:
CNC plasma cutting machines can process a variety of materials, including plates measuring up to 2.5 inches thick.
CNC controls automate the fabrication process, removing most of the human element. Typically, only a single technician is needed to operate a CNC plasma burn table, helping shop owners maintain a lean staff and safe workplace.
Fabricating with a handheld torch is an imperfect process that will always be prone to human error. The exact specifications of the cutting that needs to be done can be programmed into the CNC software, and the machine will process the material to those exact parameters. Fewer cutting mistakes result in less waste.
Just like the human hand can never match the precision of a CNC-controlled plasma torch, neither can it keep up with its processing speed. CNC plasma cutting machines can cut up to 200 inches per minute and can significantly improve a custom fabrication shop’s turnaround times.
CNC plasma cutting tables may not be the least expensive cutting solutions on the market, but when you consider how much savings they can deliver—by preventing cutting mistakes, requiring only one technician to operate, and speeding production—they can be counted on to deliver a nice ROI over time.
Who Uses CNC Plasma Cutting Technology?
There are many types of CNC plasma cutting machines of varying sizes and power outputs to accommodate a wide variety of applications. Custom fabrication shops that utilize this state-of-the-art cutting technology can produce parts for nearly any industry, including oil and gas, food and beverage, shipbuilding, construction, and more.