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Cutting in the Right Direction: How Does A Plasma Cutter Work?

how does a plasma cutter work

Looking to perfect your plasma cutting? The first step to improvement is deepening your knowledge.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How does a plasma cutter work
  • The dangers of damaged equipment
  • Where you can find high-quality plasma cutting torches and consumable

How Does a Plasma Cutter Work

If you have used a plasma cutter, you have probably noticed that there is a difference in appearance between the two edges of the workpiece after a cut is made. This is due to the direction of the plasma gas swirl, as determined by the swirl ring (baffle), and the tendency of un-ionized gas atoms to be thrown to the outside of the gas stream due to their heavier weight.

The latter has a cooling effect on the nozzle, increasing its lifespan. With most plasma torches, the gas will swirl in a clockwise direction. This means the cut edge quality is better on the right side with respect to the torch direction of travel.

Mirror Cutting

On some high-end plasma systems, swirl rings are available which swirl the gas counter-clockwise and allow for counter-clockwise torch motion, also commonly called “mirror cutting”.

This is typically used when two torches are present on one gantry. The torches are either on opposite sides when cutting the same program on two sheets simultaneously, or on the same side when slitting pieces out of a larger plate.

These systems typically also use a shielding gas or water injection system to further cool the nozzle and shield.

Cutting External Feature

This means you are cutting a feature that is external to the finished part, the outside edge. When doing this you will want to cut in a clockwise path.

Cutting Internal Feature

If you are cutting an internal feature such as a hole, you should cut counter-clockwise. Additionally, you need to cut with an appropriate lead-in and overtravel.

Dangers of Damaged Equipment

If your swirl ring becomes cracked or otherwise damaged, or if debris clogs any of the holes, turbulence may be introduced into your plasma arc. This can cause erratic cutting as the arc loses stability. You may notice a wider kerf, increased bevel angle, edge rounding, or other undesirable defects. Great care should be taken when installing swirl rings not to cause damage or clog gas ports.

Create Clean Cuts With ATTC’s Plasma Cutting Torches

Looking for quality plasma cutting torches to improve your cuts, increase your torches lifespan, and reduce downtime? We’ve got everything you need!

From PHD® and PHDX™ plasma cutting torches to CleanCut™ and HelioCut™ consumables, we can help point you in the right direction.

Schedule a FREE demo to learn more about how we can help you save money.

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