How To Choose a New Plasma Cutting System

Plasma cutting systems come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to plasma, industry experts understand that there are very few one-size-fits-all automated cutting systems. Workshops, metal fabrication, automation engineers and metalworks can have as many as a dozen different plasma cutting systems at their disposal to handle all of their specific applications.

What everyone can agree on is that having the right plasma cutting table is a necessity for successful plant operations. For your next plasma cutter machine, there are a number of things to consider so you can have as many of your needs met as possible. Our plasma cutter buying guide is designed to help you do just that.

What Are the Types of Plasma Cutters?

First and foremost, let's talk about the two main types of plasma cutting systems. The first of which is a manual plasma cutter machine that has a handheld torch and operates off of a plasma power supply. These units can be utilized quickly and tend to be more flexible and portable, making them good options for factory maintenance, metal processing applications, car repair and construction projects.

What they gain in portability they tend to lose in top-end performance to the second major type which is automated cutting systems. These high-precision systems are typically much larger than manual plasma arc cutting systems and are integrated into a fully automated cutting machine.

Plasma cutting tables consist of a cutting torch, robotics to control its movement, a downdraft table, plasma power supply, CNC controllers and other components for full operation. The complexity of design and operation results in high-precision systems that can make precise cuts across a broad range of materials and thicknesses.

With all of that automation, however, comes the associated costs. Determining the best plasma cutting system for your applications has to factor in all of these considerations and more. Here's our list of the most important factors when choosing your next plasma arc cutting system.

  • 1. Application

    As much as we'd love to tell you that there's an all-in-one solution for every manufacturer, the truth is that the plasma arc cutting needs of an auto body repair shop will be vastly different from those of a shipbuilder. However, we do build custom CNC cutting machines that cover a diverse range of materials, thicknesses and cutting techniques to meet your specific applications. Determining what they are is the first step toward selecting and designing the best plasma cutting system for you.

  • 2. Cut Quality

    Often used interchangeably with repeatability. Automated cutting systems are ideal for uniform cuts that need to be repeated dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times. In addition to conformity, a plasma cutting table is capable of making thousands of precise cuts an hour that a human operator simply can not make.

  • 3. Portability

    Try dragging a downdraft table around and you'll see the limitations of an automated cutting system very quickly. If you or your operators need to be able to move around and take their cutting torch with them, then a portable plasma cutter machine is the best solution. Hypertherm's Powermax series of plasma power supplies are designed with portability in mind, making them easier to transport.

  • 4. Ease of Use

    This can cut two ways (pun intended). A plasma cutting table operates off of integrated CAD/CAM software that controls the plasma cutter machine. Operators may need to make inputs regarding material thickness and other control adjustments. Other physical interactions may be limited to simply loading the sheet metal onto the table.

    Meanwhile, portable plasma arc cutting tools are controlled manually and don't require software integration for use. This makes them ideal for spot applications and other uses that make them easier to use than an automated cutting system. Which version is easier to use for you will depend on your applications.

  • 5. Reliability

    Reliability is one of the most important metrics of metal fabrication. Automation has made for reliable output while advances in technology have increased durability and quality. When building custom CNC machines for our clients, Cutting Systems uses the best products from the most trusted manufacturers such as Hypertherm, Lincoln, Thermal Dynamics, Kaliburn and Harris Products Group to ensure reliability. For your plasma cutting system, reliability is key.

  • 6. Cost Of Operation

    When looking at operating costs, there are two main components: consumables and utilities. Consumables are the components used up during operation such as electrodes, swirl rings and nozzles. Utilities are things such as the power draw required to operate your plasma cutter machine. High voltage, high amp machines may burn through consumables faster or cost more in utilities which increases your operating costs.

Contact Cutting Systems for a New Plasma Cutting System

We hope that you have found the information in our plasma cutter buying guide useful. If you want to know more about the various plasma cutting systems and components available to you, contact us to learn more about power supplies, plasma cutting tables, CAD/CAM nesting software or our custom CNC cutting machines. We produce precision industrial cutting machines for dozens of industries and hundreds of applications. Let us help you discover your next plasma arc cutting system today!

Contact Us

Every industrial CNC machine from Cutting Systems delivers the cut quality, productivity and precision that your application demands. We consider all of our customers to be valued partners and provide unparalleled service to ensure your needs are met. If you have any questions about our steel cutting machinery, feel free to contact us – we're always happy to help. If you know what you need for your industry, try requesting a quote to begin building the CNC machine that will get the job done right every time.