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How to Use a Plasma Cutter? – Working, Setup & Settings

Plasma cutting is a melting process that works on a jet of ionized gas at a temperature above 36032 degrees Fahrenheit and extracts or melts metal from the cut. It is also known as the thermal cutting process. The plasma jet hits metal, and some recombination takes place, and gas turns back to its normal state. This high temperature process will give a precise cutting on any material when done with the help of plasma cutting guides.

What is a Plasma Cutter and Plasma Cutting Guides?

Plasma cutter is a device which uses heat compressed air for cutting hard materials. If this cutting is done with the help of guides one can get precise shapes like circles or squares in a perfect way. An intense amount of heat is emitted during the process. Heat produced then melts metal, and a gas flow jet hits metal and cuts it. Some plasma gasses are generally inert gasses such as argon, nitrogen, or hydrogen. Inert gasses are preferable because they perform high-quality cuts in reactive alloys. Using this method, you can cut a wide range of electrically conductive alloys. A plasma torch or beam is directed towards a stationary substance.

Metals you Can Cut with Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutting is a common technique around the world. You can apply it to a wide range of metals and conductive alloys. Primarily the technique is for plain carbon, mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Other metals and conductive alloys include brass, copper, Monel, titanium, etc. Melting temperatures of all these metals play a great factor in cutting-edge quality.

How to Set Up a Plasma Cutter?

Now the question is, how can we set up a plasma cutter machine for cutting? Following are the steps for plasma cutter settings:

  • Choose an open place to perform the process.
  • Plug in the unit and connect it to the external air compressor for plasma cutter.
  • Place metal or substance to be performed on.
  • Turn on the air and machine.
  • Set up current and direct flow to metal.
  • Trigger activated cutter and placed cutter near metal
  • Cut the piece accordingly.
  • Turn off the machine after use.
  • Disconnect current and remove air.

How Does a Plasma Cutter Work?

Now let’s learn about the principle and working of plasma cutters. Compressed air or other inert gasses are very important for creating plasma. These compressed gasses are then placed near the electrode and ionized to create more pressure. This pressure is then directed toward the head and is used for cutting. The workpiece is then placed stationary, and a beam of plasma rays is directed toward it. When you press the nozzle, a plasma beam hits metal and forces it to cut. The heat of beam melts the metal, thus cutting it. This technique works perfectly with electrically charged metals or alloys.

Factors to Consider while Buying a Plasma Cutter

Factors that are to be taken into considerations while buying a plasma cutter:

1. Reliability

Plasma cutters are not cheap, so when you buy one, you should look for one that is reliable and easily operable.

2. Weight

If the machine is heavy, you might not use it properly. So consider buying one that you can easily lift and use.

3. Cutting Quality

Quality of cutting may vary from product to product and price to price. This becomes very necessary to pick the right one.

4. Air Compressor

Cutters use air compressors while working to create plasma. Cutters either have external compressors or built-in. You should make up your mind before purchasing which one will be efficient.

8. Pilot Arc

Pilot arc should not be rusty, and you can consume it for a longer period.

9. Voltage

Plasma cutter comes with three voltage options 115V, 230V, or both in one. Choose one that suits you.

Consumables for Plasma Cutting

There are some consumables that you need with plasma cutters. They come with a particular lifetime.

Swirl ring

A swirl ring is a small component inside a torch. It swirls gas surrounding plasma cutter. The main purpose of this outer gas is to provide focus and help with cutting precision.


Main purpose of the nozzle is to focus the plasma beam on the subject for a quality cut.


Main task of electrode is to receive electric current from cathode block inside torch. It then focuses the charge to the tip of the gun. Mainly consists of copper and hafnium.

Retaining cap

It holds all consumable parts of a torch.

Shield cap

Used to protect a torch from spark or any electrical failures.

Clean Cut vs. Severance Cut

There are two types of cut:

Clean Cut

Cutting at a reasonable speed is a clean cut. In a clean-cut, leftover dross part is very little. Here the machine goes all the way through metal. metal here does not need any extra work before welding.

Severance Cut

The cut we get using a machine close to its maximum ability to cut metal is called severance cut. Here cutting speed is very slow as compared to clean-cut. Unlike clean cuts here, metal is left with more dross. Metal needs extra care and work.

Plasma Cutter Settings

We are now clear with everything except for perfect settings. What could be possible optimized settings? Certain factors affect working, including air pressure, voltage, speed, etc. If the plasma cutter works at high temperature or high pressure, gasses may melt down the torch. Air pressure should be between 55 psi to 70 psi. You should prefer low pressure; high pressure may lead to a severance cut. 40 Amp current works best for most cutters, while some work well with 50 Amp. For a good cut, follow a rule of descent speed and pressure.


Hopefully, you have learned everything there is to learn about plasma cutters. Make sure you get one perfect for you and use this machine under supervision. Cutting of metal becomes very easy with these plasma cutter with guides. If you are dealing with simple tasks then you can opt for small handheld plasma cutter for easy use.