Some people prefer using certain fabrication tools more than others. Their choice usually depends on the effectiveness of the particular tool and how easy it is to use. One of the newest appliances is a CNC plasma cutter.
The mechanism of a CNC plasma cutter makes it convenient for cutting materials. On top of that, purchasing this type of tool won’t require you to break the bank because it is generally sold for a reasonable price.
Finding an affordable CNC plasma table is very easy. There are various types of CNC cutters and tables available for purchase on the market today.
But can a CNC plasma cutter cut aluminum? Let’s find out!
Can a CNC Plasma Cutter Cut Aluminum?
A CNC plasma cutter can cut aluminum, and nowadays, this method has been used more and more frequently. It is a modern cutting system that makes the process less complicated. Together with the use of CNC plasma tables, you can get the most out of this cutting technique.
To choose the best CNC plasma table, you have to ensure it’s built to last. Some CNC plasma tables are designed with advanced features. The reason for this is to provide CNC operators and machinists with the best possible experience regarding the quality of the cuts they produce.
Things to Consider
Using an appropriate gas mixture
A common mistake that people make during aluminum cutting with a CNC plasma cutter is using the wrong gas mixture. To ensure that clean cuts are created during this process, a mixture of nitrogen and helium is often recommended to be used.
The stream of cuts is controlled by one of the CNC cutter consumables for aluminum fabrication. This attachment is called a nozzle, and its function is to concentrate the electric discharge of the aluminum. The best nozzles for aluminum are those made out of copper.
Every plasma cutter has different features. However, one thing that is common for all CNC plasma cutters is that they include adjustable settings. Make sure you use them to your advantage.
The slow setting will result in using excessive power. In contrast, the high setting can sometimes be dangerous and cause damage to the cutter itself.
In order to answer the question, “Can a CNC plasma cutter cut aluminum?” you might need to do some extensive research on what setting should be used for a particular material.
Is It Safe to Cut Aluminum with a Plasma Cutter?
Generally considered a safe method of cutting aluminum, using a plasma cutter can also have disadvantages. Problems during aluminum cutting with a plasma cutter can occur to experienced professionals and people just learning to cut aluminum in this way.
Accidents are bound to happen regardless of how much knowledge and experience a person has with cutting aluminum. Certain CNC plasma cutters may work differently than others. This is one of the reasons why the included instructions should always be strictly followed.
Lack of safety equipment
When aluminum is cut with a plasma cutter, the appearance of aluminum dust is inevitable. Cutting aluminum with a plasma cutter without the proper safety equipment can lead to hazards. Protective gear for aluminum fabrication includes a helmet, goggles, and durable gloves.
Extremely high heat
Plasma cutting requires the use of high heat to ensure the production of clean-cut lines. However, applying too much heat in the presence of hydrogen molecules can be dangerous. Also, not paying too much attention to the heat can create an explosion.
Appearance of bubbles
Aluminum cutting with a plasma cutter results in an oxygen reaction and the production of burning liquid. Eventually, the hydrogen molecules react with one another, and the appearance of bubbles can be easily visible.
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Anastasia Radion
How to Use a Plasma Cutter for Aluminum
To ensure that cutting aluminum with a plasma cutter is done in a proper way, you have to keep a few things in mind. Also, some installations and additions may be required to help you avoid the possible dangers of using a plasma cutter for manufacturing aluminum.
Purchase a CNC plasma table
If you are pursuing aluminum cutting with a plasma cutter as a full-time job, you will definitely make great use of a CNC plasma table. Even if it is simply a hobby for you and you want to express your creativity, this is a must-have machinery.
The process of cutting aluminum with a plasma cutter can also become more effective by using a suitable table for this purpose. It can change how an aluminum piece is cut, giving you more control in creating precise lines.
Squickmon’s is a good place for finding good-quality CNC plasma tables. Experienced mechanical engineers test their models to prove the efficiency of their advanced features. As one of the best in the industry, this company prioritizes the safety of its consumers.
Pay attention to material thickness
Before you decide to try cutting aluminum with a CNC plasma cutter, try to determine how much time you will need to finish the project. Not all aluminum pieces have the same thickness, and cutting some of them may require more force.
Aluminum materials can be composed of multiple layers. For a beginner, cutting through such a piece with a plasma cutter may seem impossible at first glance. Even if they manage to cut it, the lines may not be sharp and accurate.
For this reason, it is useful to know that thicker aluminum materials need high heat and oxygen application with the CNC plasma cutter. This process may be lengthier than cutting through thinner and more delicate aluminum pieces.
Keep track of cutting speed
The speed you choose for aluminum cutting with a CNC plasma cutter usually depends on several factors. The first aspect you have to determine is the size of the plasma cutter and what gas mixture will be used before you choose the cutting amperage for aluminum.
At this point, you can use the instruction manual that comes with the purchase of every CNC plasma cutter model. In it, you will find information about the recommended speed with which materials should be cut, including aluminum.
Usually, the recommendations include starting carefully and slowly. This might seem time-consuming initially, but after a couple of tries, you will realize that only deep cuts of aluminum pieces require high speed with a plasma cutter.
Setting up a plasma cutter properly and purchasing a CNC plasma table is a great way to start. However, these tools might require more attention and frequent upgrades to stay durable and functioning for long periods of time.
Install controlling devices
To reduce the formation of bubbles during plasma-cutting aluminum, there is a device that is very easy to install into the machine called an aerator. Its purpose is to eliminate the possibility of bubbles interfering with the cutting process and protect the system from explosions.
Use a filter
Another way of preventing bubbles during this process is to use a system for filtration. This filter is used to push the hydrogen molecules away. In addition, it helps to clear out the water from specks that may be caused by the aluminum being cut.
Keep aluminum away from water
Clear water doesn’t lead to aluminum corrosion. However, even if you think the water is clean, tiny aluminum particles that may fall into the water are not visible to the naked eye. That is why in case an aluminum piece is dropped in water, it should be taken out instantly.
Apart from the technicalities included in this practice of cutting aluminum, safety measures have to be taken to ensure a smooth process.
So, can a CNC plasma cutter cut aluminum? Now that you know, it wouldn’t be surprising if this became your favorite way of working with this material.
New tools for cutting aluminum are always popping up. But despite that, using a CNC plasma cutter is the current best bet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is oxygen or air better for aluminum plasma cutting?
Oxygen is usually preferred for plasma cutting over the usage of air. The reason for this is that oxygen provides sharp edges during aluminum cutting. Using compressed air is an alternative way of cutting aluminum.
Is laser-cutting aluminum better than plasma?
Unlike plasma cutters, lasers are not powerful enough to cut through massive materials. Since aluminum pieces can be very thick and heavy, a favored way of cutting them is by using a plasma cutter.