How to Select the Right Plasma Cutting Consumables


Poor-fitting consumables can affect the overall performance of the cutting. Often, the melting, blow-outs, oddly pitted areas around nozzles result from damaged poor-fitting consumables. Thus, consumables must be snug-fitting. If not, the nozzles and body won’t contract, damaging the consumables every time.


To achieve this, it’s necessary to select the appropriate consumables. One source that could provide all the quality cut information along with consumable selection is the operator manual. It often covers all the safety specifications, power supply, part list, torch specifications, and troubleshooting guide. 


Everything from material thickness to the consumables to be used and cut speed and arc voltage is included in the manual. 


However, the metallurgic properties and the environment causes a change in the metal chemistry, affecting the cut. 


Here are some tips and tricks to choose parts like Esab Parts or Hypertherm consumables.


Tip 1: Choose the Right Component


Okay, this may sound easy. Choosing the correct part is common sense unless you accidentally pick the wrong one. Most of the consumable parts look the same. So, it’s not surprising to pick the wrong one, a wrong size/number part. Also, we think that a brand won’t make a difference. If you could find one at a lower cost, why would you go for Hypertherm consumables or Esab parts?


The thing is, the other consumables may not have high tolerance as the brands provide. So, go for genuine ones, and always double-check that part number matches the system or operator manual. 


Tip 2: Set Amperage According to Consumable


Generally, you won’t find amperage details in the manual or charts because it depends on the nozzle. For example, if you’re using a 60-amp nozzle, you should set the amp to 60.


Don’t set the amperage lower than the nozzle requirement, or it would produce a low-density cost, which would prevent the plasma arc from penetrating the material thoroughly. Also, don’t exceed the amperage value more than consumables’ capacity. It would wear down the nozzle quickly.


Overall, the low amperage will give you better-cut quality, whereas high amperage would help you cut faster. So, set it according to your requirements, considering the consumable. 


Tip 3: Choose Shielded/Unshielded Consumable Accordingly


The shield is a new plasma technology, whereas the unshield is the older one. It’s better to go for a shielded one as they provide long consumable life and better cut quality. The ability to cut pierce thicker is also a benefit of shielded consumables. Unshielded consumables are pointier. You should better use them when a cutting part requires closer access to a torch. 


In the case of CNC machines, choose a shielded one if the table is equipped with an ohmic sensing circuit and uses electric contact with shield and material. For machines with non-ohming sensing circuits, choose unshielded consumables. 


Tip 4: Use Proper Cut and Pierce Height


It’s necessary to maintain the height control once the machine starts cutting and moving forward. If the torch gets even 0.0005inch more height, you will witness angularity, wider kerf, dross, and warpage on thin materials. 


And if the torch gets a little more closer, the materials would collide. Besides, the risk of getting metal splatter in front of consumables can affect your arc. Hence, apply a water-based gas metal arc welding anti-spatter spray on the torch tip before installing consumables. It would prevent metal debris from sticking to the consumables or make it easy to remove.


Also, maintain the proper pierce height. It’s as crucial as a cut height to ensure the longevity of consumables’ life. If the height is low, the spatter blown will damage the nozzle. If a piercing is high, it can prematurely damage the nozzle. The proper height is half to two times the distance from torch to work. 


Tip 6: Check Arc Voltage Measurement


Arc voltage measurement is the unit of measurement between the electrode and the cutting material. It is directly proportional to the plasma arc. The higher it is, the longer the arc would be. Therefore, be aware of it. Always check its measurement in the manual and set accordingly. 


The voltage setting will also include the cut height according to the consumables. However, if consumables are torn or old, you need to maintain the distance manually. Also, calibrate the height control properly. 


Lastly, follow the cut chart settings in your provider’s manual and choose the suitable consumables. If you integrate these tips with your manuals, you would surely get a fine cut with a long consumable life.

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steven glassner
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