CNC (Computer Numerical Control) is a manufacturing process that utilizes computer software to control various types of machines. A CNC plasma cutter is such a machine, as it entails using a computer to direct jets of hot plasma for materials cutting. This device is used in many industries to cut through steel, brass, aluminum, copper, just to name a few.
Let’s now dig deeper to understand better how it works and how it can be used.
CNC plasma cutters can be applied in many workshops to cut decorative metal plates, signs, arts, and other fabrication jobs. It can make short work of residential signages, address signs, wall artwork, and other outdoor garden arts, among many others.
Working on repetitive cuts is such a breeze with this tool, making it an ideal choice for sculptures that requires the incorporation of meticulous details.
What is more, cutting metals with a CNC plasma cutter leaves less clean-up. This is because it provides highly accurate cuts once the machine is properly set up. That said, it is a huge asset, a worth-to-invest cutting tool for many workshops or businesses.

How Do CNC Plasma Cutters Work?

CNC plasma cutters work thanks to programmed numerical coding. By producing high-speed compressed air or gas via a nozzle, an electric arc then comes into contact with this gas to create plasma for metal cutting.
The plasma torches of these machines can be moved in different directions, offering incredibly precise cuts. Unlike handheld plasma cutters, CNC plasma cutters are moved around by computers, so the system is an ideal choice for repetitive cuts. Better still, they also reduce waste and take less time to create your designs.
A CNC plasma cutter accuracy and its cost efficiency allow for widespread applications of many areas, from automotive repair, salvage operation sites, large-scaled industrial construction sites, and small, DIY hobbyist shops. After getting to know the tool, its usability can inspire you to create a masterpiece that you didn’t think you could.
However, CNC plasma cutters tend to take more time to set up. Users need to learn how to use the software to be able to operate them properly. In other words, they have a much steeper learning curve compared to other standard plasma cutters. Having said that, it can be intimidating to use for beginners.
Still, due to their huge benefits, it’s worth learning how to use them. And as you get used to this tool, it will become indispensable for many jobs, be it complex welding seams or decorating metalwork for homes or gardens.

What Can A CNC Plasma Cutter Cut?

CNC plasma cutters come in a range of sizes and functionalities. Depending on the materials being cut, different gas types need to be used. These are some of the most popular types of gas.
  • Oxygen is ideal in cutting mild steel of 1 1/4 inches. It can also cut stainless steel and aluminum but might leave dross cuts.
  • Argon & hydrogen mix is perfect for aluminum and stainless steel. It gives maximum cutting capacities for clean, smooth, high-quality cuts. Also, this mixture works well for any materials 3 inches thick or higher.
  • Compressed air works perfectly on the metal of 1’’ thick and other materials that require low current cutting.
  • Nitrogen & Methane are best used to cut thin sheets of stainless steel.

How To Use A CNC Plasma Cutter?

Practice makes perfect, and using a CNC plasma cutter is no different. Simply follow these steps to make your tasks easier:
1. Each type of machine is provided with compatible software, so you’ll need to read the user’s manual thoroughly and install it first. 2. Plan ahead what and how you’ll need to cut your materials, then set up the X & Y axis to be in line with the length and width of your cutting table.
There are two types of tables: Downdraft and Water. The former is capable of pulling debris away from the metalwork. You can attach an exhaust system to the plenum located in the center of the table.
The latter can quickly get the touches to be submerged and resurfaced for metal cutting. While their components are kept perfectly cool, the debris is moved away; thus, this type of table is a good fit for any normal ventilation systems.
  1. Now check the overall setting again. Once everything is ready, hit the cut button.
  2. The CNC plasma cutter moving part is just optional. You can choose to use it or not, depending on your personal preferences, as the laser only is good enough for multiple cutting tasks.
If you’re using a CNC plasma cutter for metalwork, it’s crucial to set up your design correctly. Once you get the programming right, this computer-operated device can give you extremely precise shapes.

How Much Is A CNC Plasma Cutter?

A CNC plasmas cutter usually costs $50,000 to $100,000, and various factors influence its costs. For example, the cutting area is one of the biggest influencers. Besides, their capacity to handle different material thicknesses and the included software will also play their parts in the overall cost difference.
While its software is often overlooked, it is probably one of the most important things to consider when buying this machine. A highly functional software requires a lot of hard work. If manufacturers want to cut costs, this is where they can take shortcuts.
While many low-end models use very basic programs to operate their devices, others come with high-performing software designed for efficient use. Having said that, buyers should take into consideration the software of their CNC plasma cutter before making the purchase decision.

Final Thoughts:

I hope you’ve got some useful information from this article. Simply put, a CNC plasma cutter is a computer-run machine operated by a plasma torch. Thanks to the programmed numerical coding, this torch can be moved in multiple directions for various materials cutting.
This modern metal cutting tool is extremely useful in cutting through metal sheets, thanks to its accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and speed. Though its high initial cost might leave you to ponder, it’s certainly worth your investment.
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