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Old 03-03-2008, 08:06 PM
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Using a Plasma Cutter...

Hi All,

Just bought a new HF plasma cutter and will be trying it out tomorrow, looking for any tips experienced users can offer! Their instructions give a bit less than the basics, if you know what I mean...

Thanks!

Russ

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Old 03-03-2008, 08:28 PM
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Dont melt the tip. Strike the arc and back it off the surface just a little.
Shane
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:36 PM
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Try using a straight edge along side the tip to guide it at first. It's hard to do a straight cut free hand until you get some practice.

Make sure you use the same type of eye protection you would use when welding, lot's of people seem to think they don't have to when using a plasma cutter, then wonder why they're seeing all these bright little stars!

Have fun - Karl
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:11 PM
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They do make a tip that you can drag.
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:17 PM
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get a water separator

If you get water in the air line it will destroy the tips and other partrs. .. I bought a motor guard filter that uses replacable elements also a water collector with some kind of salt looking stuff in a clear plastic filter fron weiler welding.com It cost about $ 100 for the pieces. I have a $2200 ESAB plasma and the replacement parts cost me Another $100 to get it running again.. You should drain the air compressor every day if you use a plasma...
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:32 AM
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Thanks for the input! Here's what the manual says:

(after assuming the proper cutting position)
_____________________________________________

Direct torch away from people and flammables while you squeeze (and hold) the Torch Handle Trigger to energize the Torch Electrode. The air output is delayed a few seconds to enable a proper arc to begin. The Torch handle is now energized. Be careful not to touch anything else with the Torch except the workpiece to be cut.

Bring the Electrode of the Torch close to the starting point of the cut. The Working Indicator Light will come on. Slowly move the Torch at a slight angle along the cutting line with the Torch tip trailing. The air causes the molten metal to fall away from the workpiece being cut.
_____________________________________________

After reading this, can I ASSume that when I squeeze the trigger, the arc will start before I even get close to the material to be cut (in effect, like a gas cutting rig)? Or do I need to 'strike' an arc off the material before I actually get an arc...

Thanks!

Russ
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:33 AM
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It should start!!!Most of them start right up.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:17 AM
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I have a plasma torch for 10 years now, I love it.

Here are just a few of the tips I've learned ...

I start mine so the plasma stream is just off the edge of the material. If you don't have continuity it will not start the stream. For starting in the middle, angle the torch like you would a regular gas axe. Otherwise you get a backspray of vaporized steel...

For smooth cuts, use non conductive templates, I use MDF or plywood. I smooth out the edges for a better feel.Using steel or aluminum gets sticky sometimes if you have a lapse in continuity...the torch will want to arc out on the template.

I have found that the fastest speed you can go, and still cut through the material, will get you the best cut, needing minimal dressing.. The slag can be busted off wth a chipping hammer, or a wide chisel works well also. the stuff busts right off, leaving a nice square edge..(if you make your cut right)



The tips I use on my thermalarc are drag type, and they have a really nice straight side for close cutting templates. The template offset I use is only 0.135" ...Makes a really precise part if the template is cut right.

If you are going to do alot of cutting, wear some kind of respirator...the fumes from a plasma torch are nasty. Wear a dust mask for a few minutes while cutting and then look at it....once you see all the junk on it, and realize that stuff could be in your lungs, you will not use a plasma without one.....I use a 3m welding respirator that I get from the welding supply. The 8214 is a comfortable mask, with good filtration and is only 3 or 4 dollars each...I use mine till it smells, usuall a few weeks of intermittant use

( when I first got mine, I spent 3 days doing 4-5 hours of cutting each day with no protection...it took weeks before I could breathe right again. )

Hold the torch vertical, don't angle it at all and you will get the best cut.

Replace the tip and electrode as a pair, although sometimes you can get away with only the tip if you have used it in areas with alot of back splashing of slag.

Hope some of that helps,

Mikey
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:51 AM
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Mikey,The one we had at work,Soon as you squeeze the Trigger it would lite.You could be ten feet away from the metal.I know some are different.
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Old 03-04-2008, 03:12 PM
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Most will fire soon as you pull the trigger and shut off in a few seconds if you dont start a cut. False starts are hell on consumables. In other words, dont pull the trigger just to see the pretty blue flame, save it for cutting. I use a drag cup with mine. Cheaper than the drag tips and lasts far longer with fewer floating arcs. You do have to swing the torch when cutting curves, but I can live with that. I also think it cuts cleaner and pierices easier with less blowout. I use 1/4" ply for templates and with the dragcup I need a .625 to save the line or.690 to take the line. I use a Lincoln Procut 55. Will cut 1/2 cleanly and sever 1 1/8 with an acceptable cut at 60 psi at 55A. Continuity is paramount. Grind your material clean before attaching ground. Don't even think you might get by by hooking it to the table.
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Old 03-04-2008, 03:20 PM
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I have a miller spectra 375 and I love it. Everybody should have one in their garage. Also mine will lite when the trigger is pulled. So i try to be ready with my guide and marks made before i lite that thing. So much fun to play with....you can cut up a car in no time at all. Also make sure you have a good water trap, they don't like moisture ..it will blow out the tip and you will be changing them alot.
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:48 PM
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Got to try it today, works great! The arc starts with the trigger pull. At first, I didn't realize I was supposed to keep the tip in contact with the material and the arc kept dying out. Once I got the hang of it, I got a real nice cut.

Great tips with the templates and all, thanks!

Russ
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:49 PM
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It will go out if you are not cutting.
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:33 PM
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I use that straight edge technique as well. Clamp it to the work and run the body of the gun against it.

I also use cardboard templates. Usually a little smaller than the final part needs to be, and I drag the tip around them. I clamp them down with a cheap spring clamp from HF. Works pretty good for small stuff.
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Old 03-07-2008, 08:36 AM
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If you want to save what you are cutting off, make the template so you cut around the outside. If you want to save the other piece,make the template so you cut around the inside. That way, if you slip or make a error, the stray cut goes to the waste not the part you want.
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