For over 50 years, plasma cutters have been the preferred method of cutting metal. Since the 70’s, they have gained industry wide acceptance because they offer several advantages over other cutting methods.
Let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of CNC plasma cutting equipment.
- Fast – no preheating required, so the torch can begin cutting immediately. With speeds up to 500IPM, it can rival laser cutters depending on the type of part.
- Versatile – capable of piercing, intricate cutting and beveling in one operation. Plasma cutters can effectively cut any electrically conductive metal up to 6″ thick.
- Precise – paired with state-of-the-art software and high precision components, the need for costly secondary operations is eliminated. The torch head is computer controlled, creating clean, sharp cuts.
- High Cut Quality – less dross and high quality edges. Tight integration between the cutting torch and software results in high quality production.
- Easy to Use – while a CNC machine may seem complicated, the CNC (computer numerically controlled) software takes most of the guess work out of cutting. With a state-of-the-art package, even a first time operator is capable of producing amazing results.
- Safe – most quality systems offer an exhaust or down-draft system to draw smoke away from the operator.
- Hardened Edges – the plasma will produce a heat affected zone and harden the edges of the material being cut.
- Dross – Most plasma cut parts will have some dross that needs to laser engraver be cleaned from the part but this has been minimized with today’s high performance plasma cutting systems
- Cost – CNC plasma cutters can cost more, but faster cutting speed and high cut quality allow for faster production with fewer labor intensive secondary operations. The long term efficiency and accuracy are elements which figure into the overall cost of a plasma cutter, not just the price.
Many low-price, mid to low-quality plasma cutters are available on the market today. Poor design, poor workmanship, older technology and inefficient components significantly shorten the life of a bargain plasma cutter and keep companies from realizing the productivity gains and cost savings they were expecting. What looks like a great deal upfront, will end up costing you time and money down the road.
When comparing cutting methods or shopping for your next CNC machine, consider a plasma cutter. The large list of benefits, or pros, make it a formidable and profitable, cutting machine. All machines have their own list of cons as well. Investigate thoroughly before you buy.