CNC Plasma refers to a system where a metal cutting machine carrying a torch is guided by a computer. The acronym CNC stands for “Computer Numerical Control.” In such a system, a numerical code is used to direct the path that the torch should follow. Often, hand torches are used to cut small metal plates. However, when large metal plates are involved, it is almost impossible to achieve the desired level of accuracy by cutting by hand. This is where CNC Plasma systems come in handy.

To cut metals, the plasma torch forces compressed air or gas at high speeds through a nozzle. When that air or gas is ignited by an electrical arc, it turns into plasma also called ionized gas. This, in turn, cut through the metal.

CNC plasma cutters come in a variety of prices depending on the size and the functionality. They are highly accurate and cut though metals at considerable speeds. It has been recorded that they can slice metal at a speed of up to 500 inches per minute. Two types of gases are needed for a plasma cutter to function properly: a plasma gas and an assist gas. Those gases may vary depending on the type of metal to be sliced.

The plasma used in CNC is different from those designed for handheld cutting tools. CNC uses a mechanized plasma system that consists of a straight barrelled torch. Such a torch is supported by a machine as the CNC uses an interface to control it.

The CNC can be in the form of a stand-alone controller using an interface, or it can be a laptop computer operated by Windows that communicates with the machine drive through the ethernet ports using a special piece of software.

To direct the motion of the torch, the CNC uses what is called part programs commonly referred to as “M-codes” and “G-codes.” Those programs are texts files that determine the contour of the part to be cut and the on and off sequences of the torch. Those “M-codes” and “G-codes” originate from a part geometry generated by a CAD file which is translated by a piece of software called a “post-processor.”

When it comes to operating a CNC plasma cutter, space and safety are two factors that need to be taken into account. For safe operation, the machine needs to be placed in a well-ventilated area with ample space around it. There should be enough space to serve as a buffer as stray parks are common when the plasma cutter is in operation. Attention should also be given to the type of floor used in the area of operation. The floor should be made out of concrete or other fire-resistant material. An appropriate amount of space should also be allocated for the gas compressor and the computer.

As for the computer, it should be plugged into a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to ensure power is maintained continuously. It should also be earth-grounded to prevent any interference with the electrical arc generated by the CNC plasma cutter.

Because of the simplicity, the speed, and the accuracy they provide, CNC plasma metal cutting systems are great choices for both industrial applications and hobbies.
CNC Plasma Cutting