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Plasma cutter techniques

 
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pyronoel
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Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 528
Location: St. Charles-ish MO

PostPosted: Fri May 14 10 12:07 am    Post subject: Plasma cutter techniques Reply with quote

I have a Hypertherm Powermax600 plasma cutter. I'm pretty new with this toy, just got it in December, and started my pit project in Jan.

How much cutting should one expect before the shield and nozzle are wasted?

I use the shield that can contact the metal, but it seems to "stick", almost like it's magnetic, and then I get a gouged spot in my cut. A new shield, and a strait edge helps. -It seems to stick less when cutting through painted material.

-Is there a roller tip that can be used to separate it a little from the work?

I know it's time to swap out the consumables when I can't seem to get it to arc any more. It's not exactly cheap.

-Power settings, I've just kept the thing cranked, is there any reason to use a lower setting for thinner materials?
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DesertPits
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Joined: 05 May 2010
Posts: 104
Location: SoCal

PostPosted: Fri May 14 10 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got a Hypertherm 600 which is close to yours I think. Mine seems to stick also but I found that I was pressing down to hard on the metal. Rusty and uneven metal makes it harder to pull/push also. Making a quick pass with a flap disc seems to help. There are rollers that you can get but haven't used one.

Mike
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bigric
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Joined: 13 May 2009
Posts: 31
Location: Round Rock, TX

PostPosted: Fri May 14 10 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife and family bought me a Longevity 50-amp plasma cutter to build my pit, so this major project was my first cutting experience. I went through 5-6 sets of consumables for the project. I got better at not burning them up as time went on, so I blame some of that on inexperience. Some of the tips were damaged because I stuck them to the material, like you describe, and it changed the orifice just enough to make it not cut right.

I noticed that the sticking seemed to happen most when I had the power too high and was trying to gouge. The slag seemed to build up towards the tip and melt to it.

Absolutely the settings need to be changed as your work material changes. Higher currents seem to burn electrodes up faster, leave more slag, and require shorter distances between the torch head and the material. I spent an hour or so with various materials starting at low settings and increasing the current until I found the right settings for everything. I highly recommend that you do the same, as it seems to increase consumable life and makes cleanup easier.

Your torch may be different, but I found I could get more life out of my consumables if I periodically cleaned the tip, the electrode, and knocked debris out of the inside of the torch head (I think it's mostly spent electrode).

Good luck! Plasma cutters are awesome toys.
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BeerandQ



Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri May 14 10 1:10 pm    Post subject: Plasma Reply with quote

I have a cheapo cut 50 I bought off of ebay and you need extra dry air and I do not use very many consumables. I never have a problem wth sticking or anything else unless the pressure drops to low.
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pyronoel
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Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 528
Location: St. Charles-ish MO

PostPosted: Fri May 14 10 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bigric - this gives me hope Smile I'll try what you suggested.

BeerandQ, definitely not an air issue. Refrigerated dryer with lots of capacity. But I have read that moist air will eat 'em, and it's a good point to bring up. -As for you not eating the consumables, sounds you have the hang of it Smile



...Guess It's like anything. When I first got my mig welder, we used to eat up the tips and nozels like crazy, until we learned how to do it right, been on the same set for ages. -Nozzel dip is great!
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dukhunter785
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Joined: 09 Oct 2009
Posts: 61
Location: MANHATTAN, KANSAS

PostPosted: Mon May 17 10 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pyronoel............I have two plasma cutters I use in my shop. The first one is a Hobart Force 400....it is not meant to be drug along the metal when cutting. I purchased a set of training wheels that fit onto the nozzle, which allows you to stay at a preset distance .......works like a charm. The second machine is a ESAB P875.........it has a mode which allows you to drag the tip on the metal while cutting.........seems to work fairly well also. It is my understanding that most plasma cutters are meant to cut without making contact to the stock you are cutting.
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purplewg
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Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 1300
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Tue May 18 10 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with dukhunter. I have a Miller and drag cut most of the time depending on what I am working on. Something I am trying to be really careful with I will use the training wheels if not too close to an edge. If I am close to an edge I have to hold one training wheel up.

I don't have a problem with sticking using mine in drag cut mode.
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seattlepitboss
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Joined: 28 Oct 2008
Posts: 573
Location: Seattle, Washington

PostPosted: Tue May 18 10 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter techniques Reply with quote

pyronoel wrote:
I have a Hypertherm Powermax600 plasma cutter. I'm pretty new with this toy, just got it in December, and started my pit project in Jan.

How much cutting should one expect before the shield and nozzle are wasted?

I use the shield that can contact the metal, but it seems to "stick", almost like it's magnetic, and then I get a gouged spot in my cut. A new shield, and a strait edge helps. -It seems to stick less when cutting through painted material.

-Is there a roller tip that can be used to separate it a little from the work?

-Power settings, I've just kept the thing cranked, is there any reason to use a lower setting for thinner materials?


Last question first. There is absolutely an excellent reason to use the right power setting. If you keep it cranked you shorten consumable life enormously.

Roller tip, yes. You want the circle cutting attachment recommended by Hypertherm. I tried to cheap out and buy/make one to save money but none of them was right and finally I got the actual kit. Works great, cut circles, has roller kit.

I usually have to change a tip/nozzle combination maybe twice a year, more if I'm cutting 8 hours a day. They last a long time if you don't use the wrong power setting.

I suggest you call Hypertherm and ask to speak with a product applications engineer, and just chat with him for awhile on the phone. I got to talk to one awhile back when a local welding supply had an open house with lots of vendor reps, and I learned a lot. Don't buy finecut consumables unless you are doing precision machine cuts on thin sheet metal.

seattlepitboss
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