How to Use a Plasma Cutter

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Introduction: How to Use a Plasma Cutter

Using a plasma cutter is very convenient and fairly easy.  The benefit is that "freeform" cuts can be made to metal based on guiding the cutter.  Since this machine works by directing plasma through the creation of a circuit, a ground clamp is necessary, much like welding. 

This instructable is strictly to show practical operation of a plasma cutter.  For an example where this operation is demonstrated to make something, refer to Sheet Metal Flower to Practice Plasma Cutting and Welding.

I made this at TechShop Detroit (www.techshop.ws).

Step 1: Choose Work Location

Since we plan on cutting metal, placing the metal on a surface that is safe and allows for freedom of movement is critical.  A "grate" or  similar surface that functions as a table is perfect.

Step 2: Plug in Unit

Ensure that the unit is off and plug it in. 

Step 3: Connect the Air

Connect the external air compressor to the plasma cutter.  This is to ensure that the stream of plasma remains under high pressure. To attach the fittings, recede the outer flange of the female connection and insert the male connection.

Step 4: Turn the Air On

Turn on the air flow.  In this case, turn the lever ninety degrees from perpendicular to the air line to inline.

Step 5: Attach the Ground Clamp

Set the metal that you are using on the table and attach the ground clamp close to where you will be cutting.

Step 6: Turn on the Machine

Turn on the machine by flipping the switch behind the unit into the ON position.

Step 7: Set the Current

In this case we will set it to 25 for 18 ga sheet metal.

Step 8: Cut the Metal

Use the trigger on the gun to activate the plasma cutter.  Note the trigger has a safety that must be lifted before you can depress the trigger.  Keep the cutter (nozzle end) close to the metal and use the guide surrounding the nozzle to trace templates if you have them.

Step 9: Turn Off the Machine

When you are finished cutting your metal, turn off the machine.

Step 10: Disconnect the Ground Clamp

Disconnect the ground clamp from the metal you are working on.

Step 11: Turn Off Air

In this case turn off the air by rotating the lever 90 degrees, from inline to perpendicular to the line.

Step 12: Wind Up All Hoses

Wrap up the plasma gun line, air line, and ground line.

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    31 Discussions

    0
    vVDB
    vVDB

    3 months ago on Step 7

    18 ga ?
    Le ga est-il l'american wire gauge ?
    Cette unité est utilisée pour le diamètre des fils
    Cela correspond à 1,02 mm.

    Attention
    10 ga => 2,59 mm
    Et
    20 ga => 0,812 mm



    0
    vVDB
    vVDB

    3 months ago on Step 4

    Vous devriez indiquer ici, l'incidence d'une pression d'air comprimé trop forte ou trop faible.

    0
    vVDB
    vVDB

    3 months ago on Step 5

    Ce n'est pas une pince de masse mais c'est le potentiel le plus haut, le '+'...

    0
    ndeshyfilipine
    ndeshyfilipine

    1 year ago

    Thank you for this informative site,please tell me what current should i use if I m cutting a 10mm mild steel plate.

    0
    scartglass
    scartglass

    Question 1 year ago on Step 4

    You don't tell us how much air pressure to set it at???

    0
    A2143llen
    A2143llen

    Answer 1 year ago

    How much pressure

    0
    A2143llen
    A2143llen

    Reply 1 year ago

    How much air

    0
    guds777
    guds777

    4 years ago

    Skip the air, use propane and oxygen while cutting, much more fun, hehehehehe. (For the nubs, this was a joke)

    1
    sconner1
    sconner1

    7 years ago on Step 12

    I was expecting some technique, rather than just "plug it in and turn it on"

    0
    rigatos
    rigatos

    Reply 4 years ago

    So I did...

    0
    kidharris
    kidharris

    7 years ago on Step 4

    The air has to be as dry as possible, dryers in the line are a necessity. The water in the driers should be bled off before turning on the air.

    0
    kidharris
    kidharris

    7 years ago on Step 4

    To turn on the air valve, turn the handle from perpendicular to inline.

    0
    vpatui
    vpatui

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Could you have mixed up the photos showing "air on" and "air off"?

    0
    thewmas
    thewmas

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    most likely, never seen a ball valve on, at a right angle