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What is a Plasma Cutter? And Why Your Business May Need One

A plasma cutter is a tool that uses a directed stream of hot plasma to cut through various types of conductive metals like steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and more.

Plasma cutters work by creating an electrical arc between a negatively charged electrode in the tip of the torch and the positively charged workpiece. This arc ionizes gas passing through it, creating a channel of superhot plasma that can melt and cut through metal.

Plasma cutters provide extremely clean, fast, and accurate cuts for metal fabrication and other industrial applications. Unlike abrasive cutting tools like grinders or saws, plasma cutters produce smooth edges that often require little post-processing or cleanup.

They also offer more versatility than other thermal cutting processes like oxyfuel or laser cutting when it comes to the thickness and types of metals they can handle.

Why Your Business May Need a Plasma Cutter

There are several reasons why a business may benefit from having an in-house plasma-cutting capability:

Custom Fabrication and Prototyping

For businesses that do any kind of custom metalwork, whether prototyping new products or fabricating supports and enclosures, a plasma cutter allows for fast, precise, and repeatable customization. Plasma cutters outperform manual cutting processes in efficiency and consistency.

The concentrated plasma arc of a plasma cutter results in smooth, clean cuts with a high degree of accuracy. This makes plasma an ideal process for intricate and detailed cutting required in custom fabrication and prototype development.

Plasma cut parts require little secondary machining or finishing, speeding up fabrication times versus manual methods.

Prototype and product developers can use a plasma cutter to swiftly iterate metal concepts and designs. Multiple prototype revisions can be fabricated faster by plasma cutting versus outsourcing the work. This enables faster testing of iterations to hone in on an optimal final design.

For any business that routinely requires unique or specialized metal fabrication, implementing an automated plasma cutter can vastly improve prototyping and custom production workflows. The versatility, speed, precision, and repeatability of plasma cutting is ideal for small-batch custom projects.

Metal Repairs and Modifications

Plasma cutters allow businesses to repair and alter metal structures, equipment, and components as repair needs arise, without outsourcing the work. They can be ideal for maintenance departments at industrial facilities, fabrication shops, factories, and more.

Salvaging Materials

With a plasma cutter, companies can salvage metal parts and materials from old equipment, structures, or surplus inventory. Sections can be removed for reuse, saving businesses money instead of purchasing new materials.

High Tech

Hypertherm Sync is a mobile app that serves as a convenient way for operators to monitor, control, analyze performance, access support, and update compatible Hypertherm automated cutting systems from their mobile devices rather than directly at the cutting table. The hypertherm sync app aims to improve cutting productivity and operational efficiency.

What Types of Businesses Use Plasma Cutters? Some examples of businesses that routinely utilize plasma cutters include:

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Shipyards and marine fabrication
  • Construction companies
  • Sculptors and metal artists
  • Auto repair shops
  • Heating and air conditioning companies
  • Machine shops
  • Farming equipment companies
  • Steel product manufacturers

In many cases, having an in-house plasma-cutting capability allows businesses to solve problems more quickly, fabricate custom parts on demand, and have more control over their materials and processes.

With ever-improving plasma cutter technology that requires less and less operator skill, adopting this versatile metalworking tool is a worthwhile investment for many enterprises.

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