Premature Consumable Failure in CNC Plasma Tables

CNC Plasma Tables Failure

Consumable failure with your CNC plasma tables can result from a number of sources and can slow productivity down when they occur. Prevention of this pesky problem is the key to keep business running smoothly. So what are the best ways to prevent consumable failure? First, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when operating your CNC plasma table.

Following these general rules can help minimize the occurrence of consumable failure. Still, in this article, we will highlight some of the more common culprits of consumable failure. Knowing the most common causes of consumable failure will aid you in your efforts to prevent this annoyance in your business.

We will focus on the five main consumables found in the Hypertherm design. The Five consumables are the Retaining cap, Shield, Nozzle, Electrode, and Swirl Ring. This is known as The Five Stack Design.


Slag is a common offender when it comes to premature consumable failure. Slag is the residue left behind after plasma cutting. A plasma torch cuts the material by creating exceptional heat that melts the metal. Then, the molten metal quickly solidifies and forms a layer of slag, ( or impurities), on the cut surface. Neglecting regular maintenance and cleaning of the CNC plasma table can contribute to consumable failure. Slag must be removed to ensure a smooth

and clean cut surface. The removal process can be done through grinding or scraping, among other methods. Removal of the slag can reduce the occurrence of premature consumable failure by reducing excessive wear on the consumables, thus increasing their lifespan. This is especially true for the shield and nozzle.


Another common culprit of consumable failure is moisture. It is essential to have good ventilation, controlling the humidity in your cutting environment. The swirl ring has uniquely cut holes that direct the airflow to pass down in a helical pattern on the outside of the electrode. If you have moisture in the air, even smaller particulate, the electricity won’t be able to pass through correctly. Instead, it will arc on the small water molecules. This arc results in the creation of a small pin hole on the side of the arc. This pin hole can cause severe bevel on the edge of your swirl ring, which can result in uneven or jagged edges for your end product.

Moisture can also damage the electrode, a critical part in the plasma cutting process. Electrode damage will decrease the plasma table’s overall performance and result in more frequent electrode replacements. Even the nozzle and shield can be effected by moisture as it accelerates the degradation of these consumables. In order to prevent excess moisture, it is advised to have a water trap dryer at the exit, as well as an adequately ventilated plasma cutting environment.


Using the wrong consumables (type or size) for a specific cutting application can result in premature failure. It is important to choose the appropriate consumables based on factors like material thickness, cutting speed, and desired cut quality. Also, operating the CNC plasma table with incorrect cutting parameters, such as excessive amperage, can put additional stress on the consumables and lead to premature failure. Finding an expert to help you walk through the selection and set up process, will help ensure the avoidance of these common causes of premature consumable failure.

Consumable failure on CNC Plasma Tables can result from a number of issues. This blog highlighted some of the more common culprits. Another important note: make sure to purchase your machine from a company that will help you in all steps of the process. Additionally, many companies do not offer warranties on their consumables. Do your research. Find a company that will support you if your consumables do in fact fail. However, the ultimate goal is to stave off consumable failure all together. Following the tips in this article will aid you in your efforts to stave off consumable failure.

Also Read: Common CNC Plasma Table Problems [Signs and Solutions]

 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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