If you are planning on conducting a steel fabrication project which requires plasma cutting, you should hire an experienced fabricator for professional handling of the task. An expert will ensure that your materials are cut cleanly and smoothly, minimising wastage and producing exceptional results. However, it is not impossible to handle small-scale plasma cutting tasks by yourself if you have the right equipment. Here are some crucial tips to help you create quality cuts if you are handling this type of steelwork for the first time.
Know Your Cutter
You should understand the capabilities, benefits and limitations of your plasma cutter before beginning your operations. If you are unfamiliar with your equipment, you will not be able to maximise its potential. Ideally, you should spend some time reading your manual and studying the manufacturer's instructions. You should not only rely on generic advice on plasma cutters. Remember, knowing your equipment will help you promote better quality cuts while preserving your safety.
Perform Sample Cuts
You should not be quick to begin cutting your material, even if you have worked with a plasma cutter in the past. Instead, you should take some time to get familiar with your steel plate or sheet. Then, you should check your plasma cutter and determine the best settings for the process. The right settings will depend on the type of steel, material thickness and purpose of the cut. After choosing your settings, you should use a sample material to check the performance. Make adjustments as necessary until you find the right settings and speed.
Watch Long Cuts
Plasma cutting involves the use of hot plasma in an accelerated jet for cutting metals. Unfortunately, the high temperature can be a major limiting factor when creating long cuts with steel. Simply speaking, if you are making a long cut and then pause at the middle before resuming, the quality of the cut will be affected. The stopping and starting point will have a distinct break because the molten metal will have a break to cool before being melted again. Therefore, you should practise making long cutting movements without breaks.
Use a Shield
You should consider using a drag shield with your plasma cutter to improve your results. The drag shield is beneficial for beginners because it helps in maintaining the required standoff distance. If you have this shield, you will be able to place your cutting equipment against your material. Otherwise, you must hold the plasma cutter at an appropriate distance from the steel for optimal results.