The tools and processes used in manufacturing are constantly evolving. New techniques and machines are rolled out or improved every year, making life easier and manufacturing better for everyone.
Recently, there’s been a great emphasis on plasma cutting as the best option for making clean and precise cuts. It’s easy to see why: the manufacturing technique has made great strides due to the technology and the machines involved. An advanced version of this technique is high-definition plasma cutting, which many producers are adopting.
But is this an advancement worth pursuing? And is it worth choosing HD plasma cutting over basic plasma cutting? Let’s find out.
What is High-Definition Plasma Cutting?
Basic plasma cutting uses a high-pressure jet of Oxygen, Hydrogen, or Argon gas that is superheated by passing it through an electrical arc. As it is superheated, it is transformed into a plasma state that can reach temperatures up to 25,000 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the jet can cut through steel up to 50.8mm and aluminum up to 158.75mm.
These high-pressure plasma jets are ideal for working with a wide range of metals to achieve even cuts. They are often used to shape brass, steel, copper, and aluminum products for their relatively clean cuts and beveling. However, these tools are largely manual, meaning that the overall quality and accuracy of the cuts depend on the user’s skill—the steadier the user, the neater the cuts.
Regardless, most cuts made with plasma cutters will require a further step of grinding or sanding to remove any rough or sharp edges. Moreover, dross created during the cutting process can also be stuck to cut surfaces, requiring extra cleaning or shining to finish the product.
By improving the gas mixing process and increasing the restriction of the jet as it is fired, engineers have improved the cutting process of conventional plasma cutters. It is these improvements that allow for HD plasma cutting to offer better results with:
- 76.2mm cutting depth for steel
- 203.2mm cutting depth for aluminum
- Narrower kerf
- More precise cutting edges
- Higher durability
- Dross-free cuts
High-definition plasma cutters can also be integrated into CNC machines and other devices, allowing them to be used in automated settings. This helps eliminate the human element that can cause manual cuts to be less precise when done by hand. It also allows for complete automation in the cutting process, freeing up time for engineers and allowing mass production.
HD Plasma Cutting vs. Standard Plasma Cutting
HD plasma cutting is more expensive than regular plasma cutting. Still, many assembly lines prefer it over standard cutting techniques. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Clean and Precise Cutting
High-definition plasma cutters are favored for producing cleaner and more precise edge cuts. They also reduce the dross left after the cut, leaving a much cleaner workspace and a neater edge. This saves on post-cutting cleanup and further steps needed to finish the overall cutting process.
2. Better Cutting Efficiency
HD plasma cutters cut at a much higher rate than basic ones because they achieve significantly higher starts. Where the average plasma cutter can achieve up to 500 starts, HD plasma cutters can achieve a maximum of 3000 starts, allowing up to six times as many cuts.
A basic cutter requires around 200 amps to achieve those cuts, while an HD cutter can do that on just 70 amps. This makes HD plasma cutters significantly more power efficient for much greater efficiency.
3. Greater Versatility in Metal Cutting
As mentioned above, HD cutters can cut through much thicker pieces of metal than basic cutters. The improvement of cutting up to 203.2mm of aluminum and 76.2mm of steel makes it a much more versatile tool for almost any job. It also has much greater accuracy, usually measured to within 0.254mm.
4. Higher Durability of Tools
While most plasma cutting machines are robust, HD plasma machines bring greater refinement and durability. On average, they will maintain the consistency of their output and generally last much longer than a basic cutting tool. The improvements in HD cutting tools’ capabilities also benefit better structural designs.
5. Potential for Automation
Conventional plasma cutters require a steady hand as they are manually operated. In contrast, HD cutting tools can be integrated into automated systems, allowing the use of machine cutting to aid precision. This also means that they can be integrated into CNC machines, allowing automated systems to incorporate them into their manufacturing processes.
Combined with greater accuracy and higher cutting speeds, high-definition plasma cutters are a superior option for large-scale production. This is why HD plasma cutters are used more often in manufacturing that requires speed and accuracy when outputting large quantities of cut parts.
Squickmon’s Elihu HD series consists of powerful plasma machines that can help you cut with greater speed and precision. Designed and fabricated in the US, our plasma tables are mapped to the highest quality standards. Want to learn more about the Elihu HD plasma series? Call our knowledgeable representative at (877) 916-7477.