Traditionally, plasma cutting has been seen as a more expensive alternative to other cutting options. While this might previously have been the case, gradual improvements to plasma cutting technology have largely overcome these objections, opening the process up for use in a wider range of applications.
Reese Madden, North American Product Manager for leading plasma cutter manufacturer Hypertherm Westgate , points out that while plasma cutting systems are priced higher than other cutting tools, the advantages they offer with regard to productivity can effectively outweigh the increased initial cost.
Plasma cutters can, he says, cut faster than other cutting tools, with no need for preheating of the work piece, enabling operators to complete jobs quickly.
In addition, the better cut quality produced by plasma cutters produces less dross and better edge quality, meaning less labour-intensive finishing operations are required.
Finally, unlike oxyfuel cutting, most hand held plasma cutting systems run off compressed air, eliminating the need for costly cylinder rentals and delivery charges.
Madden cautions that these advantages are only realised when operators use high quality plasma systems. Many low price, low quality systems are available today, he notes, but ultimately the poor design, poor workmanship and outdated technology underpinning these cutters can entirely negate the expected improvements to productivity and cost savings.
Hypertherm's Powermax range of plasma cutting equipment has been designed to deliver fast cut speeds, a low operating cost, versatility and reliability.
In addition to being an ideal solution for a range of cutting applications, portable systems like Hypertherm's Powermax45 are also very effective as gouging tools, producing less smoke and less noise than other gouging methods.