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Thread: Tips and uses for a plasma cutter?

  1. #1
    Caspian is offline Hot Rolled
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    Default Tips and uses for a plasma cutter?

    I just picked up a Hypertherm 30 Plasma cutter because the price was right ($600 like new) off craigslist.

    In the past, to cut metal, I relied on my bandsaw. That required a lot of muscling around of larger pieces and a mess when the coolant ran down the sides.

    I've picked up the tip of using a wood piece as a guide to cut straight.

    Any other tips/uses that you can share?

    Thanks
    Caspian

  2. #2
    dkmc is offline Diamond
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caspian View Post
    Any other tips/uses that you can share?
    Thanks
    Caspian
    This question always puzzles me......and since I've had a long day and am in a semi-sarcastic mood, here goes.....

    It's a machine used to thermally CUT METAL
    One use would be to CUT METAL with it.
    Hum....that's about it I guess....

    I'm always curious when people ask this question.....
    What sort of answers are you hoping for?

    Pop corn ?
    Warm coffee?
    Kill insects?



    Tips?
    Don't stare at the arc, breathe the fumes, or stick your fingers too close to the tip when cutting.
    NEVER touch the torch tip to your tongue and pull the trigger!

    MotoX likes this.

  3. #3
    Caspian is offline Hot Rolled
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    I understand sarcasm, and can appreciate where you're coming from.

    I was looking for more tips like using wood as a guide. something a nubie wouldn't know.

    Thanks
    Caspian

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    FlatBeltBob is offline Stainless
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    invest in a filter drier . Moist air will make your tips wear 3X faster .
    Check McMaster : I have a MotorGuard filter . It has paper filters that look like brown toilet paper ( jokes coming soon ... )
    Don't expect to throw away your torch just yet . That unit will cut up to abut 3/8" .
    fBBob

  5. #5
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    kpotter is offline Diamond
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    I use mine with templates that I cut out on the bandsaw. I just got an esab esp 150 it will cut 2 in I havent tried any of my templates with it yet but they worked on my hypothrem 600. I dont use mine nearly as much as I should because I hate the noise the heat and the mess. Chips are easier to handle.

  6. #6
    dkmc is offline Diamond
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    OK, I thought of a practical tip......mount the torch on a DIY CNC table!
    Then you can do some awesome work with it.


  7. #7
    Sea Farmer is offline Titanium
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    They all need more compressed air than the manuals state. No 2-gal. compressors bought for a nail gun. If that's all you have, get an extra tank.

    And the air must be dry and clean--get the filter.

    For some applications u could use bottled gas--that's expensive.

  8. #8
    gbent's Avatar
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    You can use about anything you want as a guide. Hypertherm uses a drag tip, so no standoff necessary. I buy old carpenter's rafter and framing squares for $1.00 at flea markets and use them for guides. When I knick all the edges, I just throw them away.

    You can also make templates out of gasket material or thick non-corrugated cardboard.

    I have a couple of circle guides I made. They are just a piece of flat steel with a hole for the nozzle. I drill holes at the necessary distance and use a 1/4 bolt for the center pivot.

    There are gouging tips for cutting out cracks and welds. Within its limited power supply, I think the plasma is better than a torch. Its also a lot quieter than an arc air torch, but my plasma isn't big enough to touch the size things that cause me to drag out the arc air.

    Personally, I think a plasma torch is the closest thing to a light saber I'll ever use.
    AIR-O-LATOR likes this.

  9. #9
    autofrite is offline Hot Rolled
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    i enjoy using my plasma torch....
    for repeat cuts i make up a pattern.
    the advice about the tips is good,i would consider a circle cutter guide.also wouldnt hurt to set up a table and ventilation.
    i plan on making a 4x4 table with a grate and a drum with water in it.will help trap the dross.

    ive used mine for gouging welds,but the longevity doesent do it well.the hypertherm on the other hand,does it well

  10. #10
    PDW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caspian View Post
    I understand sarcasm, and can appreciate where you're coming from.

    I was looking for more tips like using wood as a guide. something a nubie wouldn't know.

    Thanks
    Caspian
    I make all my patterns out of either 3mm MDF or better, 3.5mm plywood door skin. Cut them on the bandsaw and then just run around them with the plasma cutter. Works really well. I use odd lengths of angle iron or anything else handy for straight cuts.

    My cutter is a cheap Chinese one but it cuts up to 12mm plate acceptably. Tip life sucks but I don't have an air dryer and only a cheap small compressor. I find that there's a 4mm offset from the template to the cut line so can get pretty good cuts.

    I had a Hypertherm at work, lovely machine, better than my one but not affordable on a home shop budget, alas.

    PDW

  11. #11
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    Mickey_D is offline Stainless
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    Dry air is the secret to consumables life and good cuts. Get a refrigerated drier, new air line, and a dessicant drier to mount on the back of the plasma and it will work a lot better.

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    Kevco is offline Cast Iron
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    Figure out what distance you need to be away from your cut line to your straight edge. On my Hypertherm it's a 1/2 ". I got 2 pieces of 1/2" steel stock to put at either end and it makes it quick to clamp down the straight edge to the correct distance.

    Remember that sometimes you have to leave a little extra steel to grind off as it can get hardened to where you can't file it without a lot of effort. Happens a lot when working with stainless.

    I normally drill a pilot hole when doing plunge cuts. The back splash from start up cuts will kill your consumables quicker than anything. Kevin

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    swellwelder is online now Hot Rolled
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    Isn't smoke a problem with plasma? Friend of mine says the plant he works in has to open the shop door even in the cold of winter before they use a plasma because the whole work area fills with smoke.

  14. #14
    autofrite is offline Hot Rolled
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    smoke is a big issue,ventilation,filtration is very important.i have heard of some people using a shop vac,but hose may burn as well as the filter.there is a vacum available for cleaning ash from woodstoves.
    consumables will last considerably longer if an air drier is used.for my longevity,tips and nozzles run about 15.00/shot so an air filter/water separator is money very well spent.

  15. #15
    Caspian is offline Hot Rolled
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    good to know. I'll design an area with exhaust before taking on any big projects.

    Quote Originally Posted by autofrite View Post
    smoke is a big issue,ventilation,filtration is very important.i have heard of some people using a shop vac,but hose may burn as well as the filter.there is a vacum available for cleaning ash from woodstoves.
    consumables will last considerably longer if an air drier is used.for my longevity,tips and nozzles run about 15.00/shot so an air filter/water separator is money very well spent.

  16. #16
    gpkull is offline Cast Iron
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    the motorgard filter that flatbelt bob spoke of is the cats meow for plasma cutters. i use one on my esab 875 and it works! i use regular tp as the brown rolls are 8.00 each. either can be set aside to dry out and reuse. when not in use i split the seperator as i have had the plastic lining inside start to seperate from the housing. its 20.00 to reload (for me ) and the consumables will last a lot longer when you use clean dry air. my $.02

  17. #17
    FlatBeltBob is offline Stainless
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    I have a small tip to add about cutting technique:
    when freehanding a circle or odd shape , you sometimes need to stop the cut to re position your hand or the workpiece .
    Before breaking the arc, cut a small circle away from the cut line , into the waste metal .
    That way when you resume cutting , you will have a start hole instead of having to pierce into the plate to start cutting .
    Bob

  18. #18
    Caspian is offline Hot Rolled
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    10-4 on the filter, and thanks for the tip on cutting a circle for a start. all great info that I will incorporate and save wasted material/consumables.

  19. #19
    PDW
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatBeltBob View Post
    I have a small tip to add about cutting technique:
    when freehanding a circle or odd shape , you sometimes need to stop the cut to re position your hand or the workpiece .
    Before breaking the arc, cut a small circle away from the cut line , into the waste metal .
    That way when you resume cutting , you will have a start hole instead of having to pierce into the plate to start cutting .
    Bob
    I always back up a bit to start the arc in the cut, then move forward. Piercing plate is bad news for the tips.

    I also drill a start hole if cutting out discs etc.

    PDW

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    Stuart Caruk is offline Stainless
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    Build a small air over water table and cut on slats over the water. The slag gets quenched immediately and keeps the smoke almost non-existent. Cut dry and you can choke yourself out of a small area in a couple minutes. Heck you can choke yourself out of a small warehouse in a couple minutes...

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