How Does A Plasma Cutter Work

One has to be very careful when using a plasma cutter, this is why it is often advisable to be used by professionals.

The advancement in technology has continued to make things become easier to do compared to a few decades ago and one cannot argue the fact that discoveries and findings have indeed increased the pace at which the world is evolving. One of such discoveries and production is the Plasma cutter. A Plasma cutter is a mechanical device that is used to cut through various elements such as steel, metal, and several other electrically conductive materials. That is, these materials can be sliced to a desired shape or size with just a tool and you don’t even have to be an expert in the field of engineering before you are able to use a Plasma cutter. This is an awesome invention I’ll say. But before we go into the use of the Plasma cutter, let us first explain what we mean by the word “Plasma”.

Plasma is regarded as the fourth state of matter; the other three are solid, liquid, and gas, and they have the ways in which they are related. For instance, when you expose ice cubes which is in the solid form, to a certain amount of heat, it will melt and become water, regarded as the liquid form. If you do the same by exposing the liquid to a certain amount of heat, it will also become steam which is the gas. All of these are proven by science but the interesting part here is that the gas could also be exposed to certain heat energy that will make it become plasma and this is the kind of energy that is used by the Plasma cutter.

There are two broad types of Plasma cutter: one is the type found only in factories, automobile shops, and other industrial buildings and that was even the only type of Plasma cutter available but as inventions never stop, another type which is a more portable one was created. This is called the hand-held Plasma and can be used in your homes as it is easy to carry around. Many people who do some light engineering in their homes usually own the handheld Plasma and keep it in their stores. In other words, you do not need to suffer yourself to the definitely costly amount of the industrial Plasma or having to pay over and over for everything you need to do such as cutting of metals but can easily get it done without leaving your home.

Related: Best CNC Plasma Table

Step-by-Step Guide On How To Use Plasma Cutter And How It Works

Now, how does a Plasma cutter work?

Basically, what the Plasma cutter does is to receive electricity and convert it to the high level of energy that is required to slice through metallic objects. In other to be able to use it, just follow these simple steps that will be discussed below and you will be well ready to start cutting through metallic materials on your own.

  • Get Your Protective Glasses On

The first thing as a beginner and even as an expert in using a Plasma cutter is to get your protective glasses. This is not the usual sunglasses or recommended glasses but that which is used for industrial purposes; like that uses by welders. The reason for this is that in the process of cutting the steel or elliptic materials, tiny parts of it or sparks from the cutting will start flying around due to the pressure that the Plasma cutter applies on it and if you are not well protected, it could fall into your eyes and that will be a catastrophe if such happens. So it is very important that you take that precaution before you start the cutting. That’s why it is referred to as your safety gear.

  • Watch The Air Pressure

Now let’s get on to the settings of the machine. In front of the machine, you will see something that looks a bit like a meter for measuring something. Don’t be confused, it is for measuring the air. All you have to do is ensure it gets to about thirty-five (35) Psi else, it won’t work. You can, however, have it up to about seventy-five (75) or as much as can fit your desire but according to what is in the manual for use because the Plasma cutters come in sizes and you can only know the appropriate setting for each when you read the manual. Some, however, has a recommendation of the limit being about 75 psi. That is even a whole lot of pressure on that.

Must Read: Lotos plasma cutter reviews

  • Set The Amperage

You may be wondering the meaning of the word “Amperage”, especially a strange word to someone who is not inclined with the field of science and technology. Well, a dictionary defines amperage as “the electric current; charge transmitted per unit time, measured in amperes.” In simpler words, it measures the current of electricity that is allowed to come out of the Torch of the plasma itself. After turning on the Plasma cutting machine, you will see a displayed screen with numbers, and definitely, we should be able to tell that the higher the number on the displayed screen, the powerful it becomes. So for cutting very heavy metals, one would need to set the amperage to the range of the 70s while for light ones like the sheet metals, a range between the 20s should be enough to deliver the job. This is necessary so that you don’t get too much where less is needed and you don’t apply less where so much is required. However, you can test these measurements to see which gauge will be required for you as a nonexpert in the field. All you have to do is get your metallic materials ready and start from a low number (about 20), then see how well it cuts through. If it looks very slow in cutting through or it does not even penetrate well enough, that should give you the cue that you don’t have enough energy and therefore should increase the amperage. Do this until you get the desired result and from there, you should be able to tell the possible range required for cutting other sizes of objects.

  • Turn The Switch

This is the setting I call the switches and it goes a long way in determining the output of the plasma energy. Just around the air measurement meter and the amperage setting, you will see switches. One of them is named the Trigger and has two options- 2T and 4T. You can choose any of the two as you desire but it is recommended for manual use to use the 2T instead of the 4T, especially for someone who does not know so much about the machine yet. So to be on a safe side, use the 2T option.

The second switch is named the Pilot arc, as indicated at the top of the switch and to not put yourself into trouble, just switch it to the “normal” option. It works well enough in that.

The third switch is named the “airflow test”. This is just to check the functionality of the machine. When you switch to the airflow test, the machine gives a sound by the shooting out of the air so that you can tell if everything is working fine. When that is confirmed, you should simply turn back the switch to “normal”.

  • Handling For Cutting

After you have taken the necessary precaution and made the required settings, talking about the switches turned in the right places, the amperage set in the right number (remember, not too much and not too less), and ensuring that the air is flowing, the next thing to do is to pick up the handle and get ready for the cutting of the metallic material or steel.

When you pick up the handle, the first thing you should do is turn on the safety button by pulling it down after which you can pull the trigger. After you’ve done this, it will shoot out an arc and you can go on with the cutting. When you pull the trigger, you have to wait for a while to get penetration, then you can move on to cutting the object to your desired shape or size.


Let’s do a quick recap: Ensure you get your safety wear on; to protect your eyes, check the air measurement, set the amperage to your desire as the object to cut will require, check the switch buttons and follow the settings discussed above, pull the safety button on the handle before pulling the trigger and you’re set on cutting. That is as easy as it can be.

Devices such as the Plasma cutter can be owned in a house because you never can tell when there will be an urgent need to cut some metallic objects or others of its kind and we have been careful enough to restrict the use of scientific and industrial terminologies to the minimal so that you don’t get confused or bored and that anyone after reading this, will be able to operate a Plasma cutter regardless of the existence or non-existence of previous experience in the field or with similar devices.


Leave a Comment