Plasma Cutter Troubleshooting: That You May Face While Working

Are you new to operating a plasma cutter or used to it? Whether you have years’ experience or you’re up to use one as a novice, you’ll surely face some problems.

Plasma cutters are becoming so popular, and the price has also fallen that its use is on the increase. Nowadays, even a backyard mechanic owns one. As people are using it more, they need to be acknowledged about the troubleshooting.

Therefore, here, I curated some of the most common troubleshooting those people face. I also faced them during my years’ of experience with plasma cutters.

Ground clamp not connected

Two problems- one, the work piece isn’t connected to the grounding clamp. Two, the connection on the ground clamp isn’t good enough to create the charge to melt away the metal. It won’t complete the circuit unless a good connection persists.

Worn out parts

After several uses, the parts of a plasma cutter especially the consumable parts can wear out. Continuing work with spent consumables can cause uncontrolled arcing.

Want to know the signs of worn outs? The first sign is often the deteriorating quality of cutting. Oxide residue, signs of gouging inside and outside of the nozzle are the others.

The pitting on the electrode should be below 3/32 inch for air or oxygen. And for argon or nitrogen, the boundary is 1/8 inch. If deeper than these guidelines, then better to change the electrode.

Again, on gas swirls, cracks, arc burns can appear. Or dirt or grease can get stuck in the holes. If any of these reveals, change them immediately.

While changing, keep the consumable parts on a clean rag so that metal dust can’t contaminate the torch.

Clogged Tip

While the cutter is working, it tends to collect metal slag or dirt matters. This metal dirt can discharge the electric current and interrupt the connections. If this ever happens, then stop cutting and clear the tip of the torch by wiping it off.

Also, Dust on the tip cuts down the amount of charge. So after some use, wipe it off with a clean cloth until it shines. A stronger electric charge will result.

Improper assembly of the parts of the torch can also interrupt electrical contact. It also disturbs the flow of gas.

Burnt Tip

Burning through the tips is an inherent problem with the cutter. While the cutter is in operation, the tip will be burnt back to misshapen the cutting hole.  The diameter of this hole must be of a specific value. Any larger than this will disturb the efficiency of the electric charge.

Unclean Cutting Surface

The plasma cutter fails to make a conductive connection with the dirty metal surface. The presence the oil, rust, dust or any contaminants will hamper the current.

Torch collisions

It’s another common troubleshooting that people often face. Crashes and tip-ups with the work piece can damage the torch irreparably. A torch height sensor can protect your torch by correcting the height. Programming a shape cutting system can prevent collisions. Finally, break away torch mounting devices can prevent damages.

Using torch like a hammer

It’s such a stupid act! Torches of the cutter and hammer are two different things. If you bang the torch on the metal sheet just to remove the slag, you’ll surely damage it.

Excessive use of O-ring lubricant

The application of the lubricant should be just enough to put a shine on the O-ring. In case you put anti-spatter compounds, remove the shields first. If you use too much of either of these, contamination will happen. It'll result in premature failure of the torch. Don’t apply grease on the torch.

Additionally, lubricants can conduct electricity. It may cause premature failure of the torch. Excess lubrication may also attract dirt and clog the swirl rings.

Incorrect standoff

The thickness of the material determines the standoff. If it is too high or too low, it’ll damage either the torch or the work piece. Standoff devices can help if yours is a hand-held cutter.

Arc stretching

Arc stretching can cause premature failure of the consumable parts. So use edge starts instead of pierce-starts. While edge starting, start the arc centering the nozzle orifice over the edge of the cut piece.

In case you choose to Pierce, set the height of the standoff twice than that of cutting.

Keep Air Pressure Up

As you’re working with the cutter, the built in air compressor blows away the cut materials. Set the rating on the air compressor at a specified level as it says in the manual. And also it’s important to maintain this level.

Final Verdict

This troubleshooting wastes both your time and labor. Proper operation system and devices can save your time and money as well. That’s why I also added tipsin this article to get rid of the troubles. I hope, operating a plasma cutter will be more comfortable now!

Joshua J. Salisbury
 

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