How to repair plasma cutter



Every home workshop requires a plasma cutter when fabricating parts of your car remodel or building metal objects. They usually require high voltage to operate and they’re extremely affordable unlike the bulk oxyacetylene tanks and you need to understand how to work and this will enable you avoid complex issues. When owning a plasma cutter device, you need to be knowledgeable since the tool will run into problems and malfunction and you should know how to repair it. There are small technical problems which are simple to tackle and you need to know them.  It is often quite embarrassing when you take your plasma cutter to repairmen services only to realize that it was justa small error which you could have fixed at home if you knew something about repairing a plasma cutter. Here is some guidance on how you can easily do that at home.

  1. Unclog the cutting tip

When you use a plasma cutter, there is high probabilityof collecting some metal slag and dirt particles and these unwanted substances will clog the cutting tip besides affecting the flow of electrical current. As soon as you realize that thetip has gathered some particles, you need to stop cutting and take a clean cloth and wipe off the tip to remove thedust and slag. You need to keep regularly checking the cutting tip if it has dirt; don’t wait until it becomes too much. Cleaning the tip will enable you have a stronger conductive electrical charge. As a precautionary measure you need to clean the tip before, during and after you are done with your operation.

  1. Burned tip

One common problem about plasma cutters is that they can burn tips very quickly and as the cutter is operating, it will burn the tip and as a result the cutting hole gets deformed. The hole usually has specific diameter and when it gets larger the conductivity of the electric charge might not be as good as required. When working, the extensive heat thatis generated can burn the tip so you need to have enough supply of new cuttingtips so that you will be replacing can replace them as required so that your work does not suffer.

  1. Keep the air pressure up

We know that when the cutter is operating, the built-in air compressor will blow away the cut debris and material. You need to set a specified amount of air pressure in the compressor which has been mentioned in the user’s manual. Ensure that  you are able to maintainthis pressure level.  Always ensure that the compressor is able to blow away the debris while cutting so that it does not blockthecutter in anyway. Also, you need to ensure that there is proper amount of gas and also coolant which will give you smooth flow and pressure. When gas  pressure is low,  you will not be able to get proper arch which is necessary for your job and this will cause irregular cuts and additional pressure can lead to a point where your torch is unable to initiate an arc.

Clean the cutting surface

Since the tool works through making conductive connection with piece that it’s cutting, one will notice problems when metal surface is dirty. You need to allocate enough time and do thorough cleaning ofthe surface by removing  rust, oil, dust and any other element thatcan hamper the flow of electric current.

  1. Grounded clamp which is not connected

The tool must be grounded through the work piece. The grounding clamp should be connected to the work piece close towhere you’re making the cut. When you do this, it will complete the circuit and  the cutter will give the charge it requires to melt away themetal. You also need to ensure that the connection on the ground clamp is good.

  1. Use grounded connections

Another common problem the users have with their cutter is that they don’t plug thecutter into three-pronged, grounded outlets orthe outlet may have the 3rd prong available but it is not properly connected as the grounded outlet. You need to ensure that  thecutter is grounded correctly sothat the electrical arc works well.

  1. Read user’s manual carefully

Many people have the habitof not reading theuser’s manual and this causes problems because even for a minor fault in the machine you keep running to your local mechanic to solve the problem. Read the manual carefully  before operating theequipment. The user’s manual will help you know how your device works and will enable you to avoid  pitfalls and even prevent a majorbreakdown. Reading the manual is worth the time spent in the effort. Every detail is important as it will familiarize you the machine and you will be able to prevent future troubles. It will help you know how to assemble  some parts of your cutter based on the type of material to be cut, gas and amperage selection. You will know how to maximize the performance of the cutting system. Assembling the consumables is difficult, but the user manual will help you greatly.

  1. Keep working area clean

Having a clean shop air is ideal for theperformance of the consumables. The torch can last for years if proper care is taken.  If you don’t have a preventive maintenance program  to eliminate moisture, you are likelyto havepremature failure of thetorch head and replacement consumable. The first step to eliminate moisture within the compressed air system is to install a filtration system which connects air line to power supply. Once you install it, you will have a routine maintenance schedule and if you do not do so, moisture will always continue to cause problems. Moisture can build in the lead sets which connect thetorch head and power supply. Several of the plasma air cooled systems have a purging option which enables the maintenance of clean shop air within replacement leads.

  1. Maximizing consumable lifespan

If you’re an expert plasma operator, you can tell by color or sound of the arc the wearing off of the parts  as well as cut quality. An effective way of determining the parts’ life can be by examining the cut quality of thematerial being cut.This is easy to detect; if the quality of the cut is below par it is a clear indication that the part’s life is decreasing, too. You need to be extra careful not to overuse the  consumables since severely worn out consumables will causedamage to the material you’re cutting or the torch.Inthe case of electrodes, the pit depth of the hafnium must not exceed 2/32” for oxygen and 1/8” for argon hydrogen or nitrogen. This is ideal formaximizing the life of electrodes. When starting, the electrodes can erode and stop during the cutting process and the material which needs a tremendous amount of start as well as stop needs short electrode  action. You need to ensure that the orifice of tip is always at the centreand when the hole becomes distorted it indicates that it needs to be changed. Gas distributors need less frequent replacement compared to  electrodes or tips/nozzles. Your swirl ring doesn’t need to be changed when it shows containment in its burns, cracks or holes. When the electrodes slide easily inside theswirl ring or gas distributor, it means it shouldbe changed. You need to ensure that the holes in the shield are always in the centreand they’re not distorted. When the shield of gas distributor and swirl ring show containments in their burns, cracks, holes, etc, it means that they should be immediately replaced.

Tips to recall

– Always ensure to match your consumables with theapplication and don’t ever use low amperage consumable when performing high-amperage cutting and vice versa.

– Keep your torch at good distance from your work piece when cutting and this is ideal when using unshielded consumables.

– Cut at appropriate speed and bear in mind that whilecutting too fast will give you incomplete cut,slow cutting  can put unneeded strain on your consumable and this can even make it  burn quickly.

  1. Types of dross

You need to maintain the correct cutting speed since it is critical in the cutting process and always keep in mindthat little to no dross can end up in a clean edge cut. Cutting too slow or too fast can create  quality problem and it can even require grinding or rework of the material and this can add more manufacturing cost and labor to your finished products.  Having a low speed dross can lead to accumulation of molten material on the bottom edge of your cut. When theplasma arc is straight down then it means that the cut speed is too slow and if the arc sprays back, your speed is very fast and so there can be a small hard bead of dross on the bottom of your cutting edge. Practically, the arc needs to leave the material at fifteen degree angle.

  1. Clean the torch thread

Always ensure that you keep thetorch thread clean as this is equally essential like assembling the torch. Every time you use the cutter, you need to ensure that the place is clean and when it comes to  changing the parts of your cutter, make sure that you put them in a dust-free place as this will protect your torch from contamination.

  1. Lubricate the O-ring when there is friction

Lubricating the moving parts is very important as this will prevent friction or wear and tear. Keep in mind that lubrication should not exceed the limit as excess lubricant will damage the torch and this will force you to remove the lubricants again. Torch corrosion is another problem which needs to be addressed,as banging with anything can cause irreversibledamage to thetorch and  you will be forced to buya new one. You should  remove the shields before putting anyanti-spatter compound on it. You need to know that lubricants can conduct electricity and thuscan ruin your perfect cutting job and thatswirl rings can gather excess grease and this can attract metal dust which, in turn,will ruin thearcing. You need to rely on torch height sensors which will help you protect your torch from banging with theworkpiece. The torch should be routinely cleaned by using hydrogen peroxide and cotton swab for any contaminants which may be present inside or outside. You need to be extra carefulwhen holding thetorch from the surface because you don’t use it correctly it can lead to abrasions and damage.

Take good care of the machine even when it is not in use.It enhances the life of the plasma cutter and saves you from frequent visits to the mechanic to get it repaired.  It will also enable you todo your work at your own comfort. You need to keep your plasma cutter in top working condition at all coststoprevent any malfunctioning..The general trend is that people who own such equipment normally do not pay attention to the  user guide. You can’t imagine the embarrassment you face  when you take it to an expert only to realize that the problem could have been fixed quite easilyif you had read theuser manual. To preempt any trouble read the instructions in the manual carefully to be fully equipped to address any minor problem as and when it occurs and you will be able to get the best out of your plasma cutter. Not doing so would create countless problems.