First, let us start with what plasma cutting consumables are? They are different parts of a plasma cutting machine. What does it do? It receives the electrical current from a cathode block present inside the torch to which the consumable is connected. It also focuses the charge with its tip that causes it to arc on the workpiece. Below are some of the common consumables useful in plasma cutting:
- Swirl Rings
These consumables are useful for cutting through thick and thin metal at a consistent speed. In the process, some consumables wear out quickly however some remain sturdy for a more extended period.
And how long a plasma cutter consumable will last depends more on its quality and usage frequency. But you need to make sure that you keep a daily check on all the consumables and change the faulty ones.
It is because if there is any fault in a single plasma cutting component then the whole system may malfunction and as a result, your output will not be as expected.
Also, investing in quality parts like Hypertherm consumables, amada consumables, or specific types like Hypertherm powermax 45 consumables serves as an excellent installing or replacing option. This will provide you with better outcomes and add life to your consumables.
Let us know more about different consumables:
1. Swirl Ring
A swirl ring is made up of ceramic or volcanic ash. It controls and swirls the plasma gas into the nozzle and around the electrode. This way it also controls the point where the arc attaches to the emitter. It regulates the plasma flow via nozzles that affect the edge angularity.
Additionally, the swirl ring insulates the nozzle from the electrode by aligning the emitter and nozzle in the metal’s orifice. This minor component is present inside the torch to swirl the gas molecules surrounding the plasma arc. This swirling process keeps the machine cool. A swirl ring usually swirls the gas in a clockwise rotation, however, there are swirl rings available that swirl counterclockwise to assist with mirror cutting.
2. Retaining Cap
The main purpose of this cap is to hold the consumables of the torch altogether. As we know, the temperature at the end of the machine is incredibly high. This temperature holds a high chance of wearing down the parts that create and focus the arc and also the components that hold the arc together. This can wear down the parts that create and focus the arc but also the components that hold them together.
3. Shield Cap
Just like its name, a shield is necessary to protect all the other consumables from molten metal and sparks. Most shields contain copper and it also provides the proper stand-off distance between the workpiece and the nozzle. An improper or damaged shield can cause poor cut quality of the final output.
An electrode is a narrow piece of copper with hafnium. It focuses the charge by its tip and receives an electrical current by a cathode block. This cathode block is inside the torch to which the electrode is connected. This provides an arc to the workpiece.
Manufactures design the nozzle to constrict the gas stream flowing through the metal’s orifice in the center of the nozzle. This will focus on the plasma arc which directly affects the size of the kerf. A nozzle that is faulty can have an adverse effect on the metal by making its edges and sizes improper. Here, the orifice needs to be perfectly circular, not oval or egg-shaped.
Factors Affecting Life of Consumables
There are a lot of factors that can create problems that can affect plasma cutting consumable life, and troubleshooting such problems can be complicated and time consuming. So here we have a list of common factors that you can look if you are experiencing a reduction in plasma nozzle or electrode life:
- Low gas flow
- Low coolant flow
- Torch crashing/ Damaged torch
- Inaccurate pierce height
- Incorrect current setting
- Snapping off the plate edge
- Contaminated gas or water
- Improper cutting parameters
- Faulty or incorrect consumable set
- Faulty or incorrect coolant type
Here replacing the consumables with good quality parts like Hypertherm consumables or amada parts is the best option. Keeping a regular check on these factors will save your machine from further malfunctions.
As you read about the roles of each consumable, you can say that plasma cutter consumables are extremely important in the operations of the machine. But what matters the most is the quality of the consumables. It will affect the output of the machine and the consumable’s longevity. Suitable quality consumables such as Hypertherm powermax 45 consumables can provide you incredible accuracy and longer consumable life.