How To Optimize Material Usage With CNC Plasma Table

How to Optimize Material Usage With CNC Plasma Table

CNC plasma cutting is a commercial activity that requires taking all necessary measures to optimize the process of production and increase profitability. Knowing how to optimize material usage with CNC plasma table will save you time and prolong the life of your tools, including the consumables. 

This means utilizing the tools and materials in the best way possible will reduce waste and provide the best possible quality.

In the article, we will delve into the process of CNC plasma cutting and particularly into the best ways to get the most out of the tools and materials at your disposal.

How to Optimize Material Usage With CNC Plasma Table

CNC plasma tables are fast and effective machines. They can seamlessly cut through different metals and help you shape parts and products for various industries. However, there are levels to using CNC plasma tables, and only some are getting the most out of their machine.

There are several steps you can take to make the process a more productive one. Knowing what choice to make regarding gas and which material to use it for is vital to producing quality and profit.

Also, adapting the speed relative to the metal and creating the best path for the metal will elevate your CNC plasma game to the next level.

While this guide will mostly be about fundamental steps you must take before performing cuts; it will also include some tips and tricks from seasoned professionals in the sector.

Making a good brand choice when purchasing the table is another necessary step to optimizing the cutting process. Here at Squickmons, we have the best CNC plasma tables at the most affordable prices. Visit our website and learn how to elevate your business with our CNC machinery.

How To Optimize Material Usage With CNC Plasma Table

Source: / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski

The Required Steps for Optimizing

Choosing the adequate gas

While the arc cuts through the metal, the gas reacts with it. Different metals have contrasting reactions when exposed to various types of gas. That is why knowing the reactions between different gasses and metals you will be using will allow you to make more precise cuts.

Not using adequate gas is a common issue and can make it more difficult to cut through, or it can cut more than you had intended in the design. 

Here are some of the gasses and the most compatible metals to use:

  • Air works well with mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. It is cheap and easy to store.
  • Oxygen works best with mild steel and provides efficiency and speed.
  • Nitrogen works with stainless steel, aluminum, and mild steel. It provides good quality cuts and speed and allows for longer life of the consumables.
  • Argon-hydrogen is best for cutting thicker stainless steel and aluminum pieces. It allows maximum cutting capacity with good quality, decent speed, and surface smoothness.
  • Water mixed with nitrogen plasma is suitable for stainless steel. It reduces dross and bevel angle, improves the quality of cuts, and extends the life of the consumables.

Single vs. dual gas design

Plasma torches can be of single and dual gas design. The single gas design uses only one type of gas for plasma and shield and is the lower-cost option. Dual gas design torches have separate pathways for plasma and shield. They are more versatile as they improve the quality of the cut and reduce waste.

Dual gas torches use combinations like oxygen plasma and air shield or argon-hydrogen plasma and nitrogen shield.

Cutting path

Optimizing the cutting path and speed is crucial to reducing material waste, as well as avoiding thermal deformation and dross formation. Reducing waste will be of benefit to the cost-effectiveness of the project, and it will have a positive environmental impact.

To determine the ideal cutting path, you should use appropriate nesting software to match the typesetting of large and small materials. Additionally, enhance the utilization rate of the CNC plasma table.

Here are some of the actions you can perform to improve the cutting path:

  • Use appropriate nesting software.
  • Adjust the direction of the plasma according to the shape of the part.
  • Constantly repositioning the torch can lead to excessive heat and damage.
  • Avoid overcutting and undercutting at the corners of the parts.
  • Reduce kerf and material waste by using chain-cutting techniques.


When looking for ways how to optimize material usage with CNC plasma table, reducing waste should be among the top priorities. Nesting is usually an automatic process. A nesting software that can optimize the arrangement of parts generates the most effective cutting paths.

Cutting speed

The cutting speed is the rate at which the torch moves along the surface of the workpiece. The measure for cutting speed is feet per minute, and it’s what determines the metal removal rate. Going at higher speeds allows for faster removal of the metal and quicker completion of the task.

The cutting speed is relative to the type of material and its rigidity. Harder materials take longer to break down, whereas softer ones require a shorter time. 

Here are some of the things you can do to improve the speed and efficacy of the cutting process:

  • Adapt the cutting specifications according to the thickness of the metal.
  • Adjust the speed according to the shape of the part. The rate should be slower for curved and faster for straight parts.
  • Use THC to prevent the voltage from fluctuating.
  • Adjust the cutting speed according to indicators for kerf width, bevel angle, dross level, and surface finish.

Cutting Speed of CNC cutting table

Source: / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski


The consumables are the parts of the CNC table that wear out and need changing over time. Those parts include the nozzle, electrode, swirl ring, shield cap, etc. One way how to optimize material usage with CNC plasma table is by ensuring the consumables are clean and working.

You should replace the consumables regularly and before their end-of-life date. Perform regular checks to see if they are beginning to get worn out or if there are some holes or other types of damage. 

Here are the most common signs for replacing the consumables:


The nozzle directs the plasma arc. If you notice an enlarged orifice or a dross buildup, it’s probably time to change it. It is good for two to four hours of arc-on time.


The electrode carries the current to the plasma arc. The time to change it is when you notice cracks on its surface. It is usually good for three to five hours of arc-on time.

Swirl ring

It controls the gas flow around the electrode and nozzle. You should replace it with every five electrode changes.

Shield cap

The shield cap protects the nozzle from the molten metal and shields the arc from the air. You should look to replace it with every 5th nozzle change.

Retaining cap

It holds the consumables in place and releases cooling gas. If you don’t notice damage, you should replace it with every 10-15 nozzle changes.

Energy consumption

Lowering the energy consumption is one of the key ways how to optimize material usage with CNC plasma table. Excessive energy consumption can be due to suboptimal cutting speed and higher duty cycles than necessary.

Using an inverter-based plasma source is a great way to reduce the energy consumption of a CNC plasma table. Inverter-based plasma sources have high efficiency and a low power rating. A regular plasma source uses high-frequency transformers to generate powerful arcs, wasting much energy.

Maintenance of CNC plasma table

Having an optimized CNC plasma table requires regularly taking care of your machine. Maintenance refers to cleaning the plasma table and replacing some damaged or worn out.

Cleaning the CNC plasma table

Cleaning the CNC plasma table is a messy ordeal, but it’s quite necessary. It prevents corrosion, contamination, and clogging. 

Here are the necessary steps for cleaning your CNC plasma table:

  1. Remove the cutting surface.
  2. Drain the water from the water table.
  3. Remove the slats.
  4. Using a scraper, remove any remaining pieces of slag or metal.
  5. Wash the inside of the table using detergent and rinse with a hose.
  6. Dry the table using cloths.
  7. Apply anti-corrosive spray on the inside.
  8. Refill the water table and add an anti-algae product.
  9. Replace the filter.

Regarding the slats, you can remove them while the tank is still draining. Carefully scrape the pieces of slag and metal from the parts and install them back again once you’ve cleaned the table. You can get more out of your slats if you reinstall them facing the opposite of their previous position. 

If necessary, replace damaged slats with new ones. Slag buildup is removable, but if you notice warps and cracks, you should look to replace the affected slags. You don’t want the slags to lose their shape, as it can negatively affect the cutting process.

Maintenance of CNC plasma table

Source: / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski


CNC plasma cutting generates a lot of waste and consumes a lot of energy. Knowing how to optimize material usage with CNC plasma table is very important for the business and the environment. Improving the cut quality is a vital factor in optimizing the process. It requires setting optimal settings relative to the metal and using the proper choice of gas.

The cutting speed is also important for performing quality cuts, as is the regular maintenance of the table and consumables.

For optimal energy consumption, it’s best to use an inverter-based plasma source.

 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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