CNC Plasma Cutter Not Working? Troubleshooting Tips

Troubleshooting CNC Plasma Cutter

CNC plasma cutters are magnificent machines that many professionals and hobbyists use in their workshops. However, these machines aren’t immune to malfunctioning, especially if they come from a mid-to-tier brand. If your plasma cutter has been acting peevish lately or has completely stopped working, try these troubleshooting tips to see if you can get it back to its normal self.

1. Clean the cutting tip

Using a plasma cutter frequently can cause it to collect dirt particles and metal slag. Over time, these particles can cause the electrical current to discharge. If you notice this during a production run, switch off the cutter and clean the tip’s end using a cotton swab or, if needed, compressed air. Ensure there are no traces of dust and slag before using it again.

2. Install the torch correctly

If the torch is new, install it with the nozzle pointing at a 45-degree angle to your body. Also make sure it’s pointing down. Right-handed operators should hold their hand so that it’s facing away from them, then turn it around so that the base is pointing upwards.

3. Change the air compressor settings

If the air compressor doesn’t blow away the debris as you operate the plasma cutter, the issue might be an improper setting or a clogged compressor. Set the cubic feet per minute rating at a particular amount, as per the cutter’s manual. You can also consider replacing the compressor–the existing one might be too small for the job.

4. Reboot the plasma system

If your plasma system doesn’t work, reboot it to see if it solves the issue. Make sure to switch off all the pour and double-check all connections, leads, and grounding. If this doesn’t start the plasma system, or in case there is a more complicated issue with your plasma system (e.g., vibrations, unstable arc voltage, etc.), seek professional help to ensure safe and efficient repairs.

5. Properly ground the dust collector flex hose

Is your dust collector house arcing to your dust hose? Fix the issue by ensuring its metal ducting and flex hose are properly grounded to the ground rod. Besides that, ensure the machine controller is properly grounded so that system failure doesn’t occur due to poor ground.

6. Check rail system alignment

Sometimes, plasma machines experience mechanical issues such as problems with the rail base system. To address this, check whether the rail system is correctly aligned, as any misalignment can result in drag of the drive motors. It’s also good to check bearings and gears for potential obstruction or misalignment due to dirt or other particles. Of course, it’s better to call in an expert if you are not sure where exactly to begin.

7. Avoid torch collisions

If collisions lead to crashes, you must program your shape cutting system to travel around, rather than over, cut parts to prevent further damage. Fortunately, CAM software makes this easy to do. Moreover, some CNC plasma tables feature a magnetic torch breakaway feature that can minimize damage if a collision does happen—you’ll want to invest in these.

8. Clean the cutting surface

Because the plasma cutter functions by making a conductive connection with the workpiece, problems can arise if the metal surface is dirty. Therefore, you must put in the hours to clean the surface of rust, oil, dust, or other contaminants that can distort the electrical current. A cleaner plasma system surface facilities fast and accurate cutting.

9. Solve physical issues

If your plasma cutter starts fine, but the controller displays an error message, it’s most probably a software issue. Software hiccups resulting from issues in automatic safety systems (like problems with gas flows) can be fixed easily. Fully shut down the system and restart it after a while—this should address the underlying physical issue causing the controller error.

For More on This TopicHow Do CNC Plasma Cutters Work?

10. Connected the grounding clamp

It’s also important to ground the plasma cutter to the workpiece. Check whether the connections to the ground clamp are strong, or you risk reducing cutting efficiency. Ideally, the clamp must be connected near where you will cut. This finishes the circuit so the cutter can build the charge it needs to melt the metal away.

Taking these steps should help reinstate your machine’s function. But if your CNC plasma cutter has reached the end of its life, it’s best to get a new one.

Squickmon’s offers Hypertherm and Victor Thermal Dynamics plasma cutters with a 5-year warranty. You can pick from Custmaster and Powermax machines to rejuvenate your assembly line. Advanced software options like AutoCAD and DraftSight are also available for CNC machining.

To request a quote or get more info, call 1-877-786-6474 or fill out our contact form here.

 Simon Patterson

Simon Patterson

Simon Patterson is the owner and founder of Squickmon's Engineering & Engineering. With over 15 years of fabrication and manufacturing experience, alongside a mechanical engineering degree, he knows exactly what it takes to create a quality product for small fabrication shops as well as large industrial manufacturing companies. He set out to create a company that stands by their products with confidence as well as integrity. His goal was to build a company with a strong foundation, quality product, satisfied customers, and a product that is 100 percent designed and built in the USA.

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