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What is a CNC Plasma Cutter and How Does it Work?

CNC Plasma Cutting | July 30, 2020

Computer numerical control (CNC) has been incorporated into a wide range of different machines and technologies, including plasma cutters, in order to provide greater control for more technical cuts. If you are wondering what a CNC plasma cutter is and how it works, consulting an expert, such as the ones from LWS Manufacturing & Welding, will provide you with a greater depth of knowledge and will make it easier for you to determine if CNC plasma cutting is the best option for your specific project requirements.

What is a CNC Plasma Cutter?

A CNC plasma cutter is a machine that is specifically designed to cut through electrically conductive materials by using a computer to control and direct an accelerated jet of hot plasma at the material being cut. CNC plasma cutters can cut through a wide range of different materials, including steel, aluminum, brass, and copper, and can be used for a selection of different industries like fabrication and welding shops, auto repair and restoration shops, industrial construction sites, and salvage operation sites.

How Does a CNC Plasma Cutter Work?

CNC plasma cutting machines are computer-run systems that have the ability to move a high-definition plasma torch in various directions by using the numerical coding that has been programmed into the computer. The high-definition plasma cutter itself operates by forcing a gas or compressed air through a nozzle at high speeds. An electric arc is then introduced to the gas, creating plasma which is able to cut through metal.

CNC plasma cutters are available in a range of different sizes, prices, and functionalities. These machines are highly accurate and can slice through metals at speeds of up to 500 inches per minute. While high-definition plasma cutters require a plasma gas and an assist gas to function, the type of gas will vary depending on the material being cut. Some of the gases that can be used in plasma cutting include:

  • Oxygen—can be used to cut mild steel up to 1 1/4 inches thick but causes rough-looking cuts in stainless steel and aluminum.
  • Argon and hydrogen mix—provides high-quality, smooth cuts in stainless steel and aluminum.
  • Compressed air—works well for low current cutting applications in metals up to 1 inch thick.
  • Nitrogen—can be used to cut thin stainless steel.
  • Methane—can be used to cut thin stainless steel.

If you would like to learn more about what a CNC plasma cutter is and how it works, or if you are interested in one of our fabrication and welding services like CNC plasma cutting, please get in touch with LWS Manufacturing & Welding at 604-854-1277 or by filling out a contact form on our website.

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