Despite careful engineering, precise manufacturing, and thorough testing, torch troubles still occur. We aren’t surprised. If you think about it, plasma torches take quite a beating. The intense heat, many times hotter than the sun, is remarkable! So what do you do if your cut quality starts to deteriorate and you have to troubleshoot your plasma torch? Fortunately, there is often an easy fix. These six tips could help improve your cut quality:
Properly assemble the torch. Yes, we know, it sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at the number of torch issues traced to this one thing. It is important to make sure all parts within the torch are properly aligned and fit together snugly. This ensures good electrical contact and the correct flow of gas and coolant through the torch. When cleaning or assembling a torch, make sure to keep any loose parts on top of a clean shop rag, so the parts don’t wind up with dirt or metal dust on them. What do you think of this tip? Have you ever made a mistake when assembling your torch?
Change consumables before they fail. Running your consumables until they “blow” is a costly, yet common, habit. Severely worn electrodes, nozzles, and other consumables can cause uncontrolled arcing in the plasma chamber. Make sure to thoroughly inspect them. And while you’ve got the torch opened up, here’s another tip.
Clean your torch threads. When changing consumables or performing any other type of routine maintenance on your torch, check your torch threads. If worn, retap them.
Clean the nozzle and electrode seating area. In many torches, the nozzle and electrode seating area are points of electrical contact. If they become dirty or pitted, your torch won’t work correctly.
Check gas and coolant flow. Routinely (as in everyday!) check the flow and pressure of the gas and coolant in your torch. If you find there isn’t enough of either, stop cutting until the problem is fixed.
Avoid “tips-ups” and crashes. Yes, we know, this is another “duh” tip, but again you’d be surprised at the number of problems caused by this very issue. The solution is simple: program your shape cutting system to travel around, and not over, cut parts whenever possible. (Hypertherm’s CAM software makes this super easy.) Breakaway torch mounting devices can help prevent—or at least minimize—damage if a collision does occur. Fortunately enough, CNC Clear Cut plasma tables come equipped with a magnetic torch breakaway feature.