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Author Topic: Metal workers--Plasma cutting  (Read 7546 times)

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Offline DouginUtah

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Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« on: October 29, 2011, 12:37:19 PM »

Please describe the smoothness of a cut done with a plasma cutter. Is it like a cutting torch or more like a cut made with a band saw or ??

-Doug
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Offline motohed

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2011, 01:15:35 PM »
Plasma cutters will cut a fine edge as long as you are consistent with the speed and distance from the piece of steel you are cutting. the edge is generally better than a torch . I made a little wheel  mine as I'm not as steady as I once was , you can also set them up on a machine head as well but they are expensive . you will also need a clean air  supply with a good regulator ,  and a good water , oil  separator is a must . I use several with mine . Make sure you have one thats big enough for our job , or all cuts will be ragged , mine will cut 1.25 inches and sever 1.75 inches . I have also used it to gouge out a crack for welding . Good luck  !

Offline zopi

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2011, 02:03:21 PM »
Torch or plasma will give pretty much the same results...just depends on the operator...I have a set of pinch dogs a friend made for me..came off an oxy acetylene plotter table...as clean a cut as with a bandsaw...did not even clean em up with a grinder...went right to the case hardening...
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2011, 06:29:53 PM »
Doug, it depends upon the operator.  My experience has been that plasma is a bit smoother than oxy-acytelene, but not quite as smooth as a saw.

I sure do like using the plasma cutter though, and not spending $ on acytelene.
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Online Al_Smith

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2011, 06:50:31 PM »
Plasma or a torch depends on the operator .FWIW I've cut 1" thick cast iron with plasma which is one thing you can't do with a torch and it was pretty smooth.I've also seen some pipefitters that can cut pipe with a torch nearly as smooth as if it were saw cut .I can on occasion but not as the norm .

Offline motohed

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 07:03:10 PM »
We also need to say that what ever you use , plasma cutter or torch the metal must be clean if you want a good cut . No rust ,paint , oil etc . ;D

Online Al_Smith

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 09:04:56 PM »
Well I'll certainly have to say the price of acetylene has gotten outragious .Then I find out only about two companies in the entire world have the rest of the world held hostage .

Some use propane or MAPP but I personally think they both suck .Somehow in my life time I managed to acquire 4 complete sets of torchs .Three from holding my hand up too long at an auction and one I kind of inherited from my deceased father .I use so little of the stuff as a norm any more I only have two sets filled .One at the house and one at my shop .Lawdy if I got all 4 filled at the same time I'd have to mortgage the house .

Offline DouginUtah

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 02:13:29 PM »

Let me ask another question here...

What do you guys use to mark on mild steel? (Cross-hairs) I used old, fine Sharpies but after a few marks, they didn't show anymore. Pencil doesn't show up very good.

I bought a white pencil at the fabric store but that didn't work either. What do you suggest I use?


(In case anyone is wondering, I am building a trailer. It was supposed to be just a light utility trailer but I have ended up over-building it.)  ;D
-Doug
When you hang around with good people, good things happen. -Darrell Waltrip

There is no need to say 'unleaded regular gas'. It's all unleaded. Just say 'regular gas'. It's not the 70s anymore. (At least that's what my wife tells me.)

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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 02:17:29 PM »

Let me ask another question here...

What do you guys use to mark on mild steel? (Cross-hairs) I used old, fine Sharpies but after a few marks, they didn't show anymore. Pencil doesn't show up very good.

I bought a white pencil at the fabric store but that didn't work either. What do you suggest I use?


(In case anyone is wondering, I am building a trailer. It was supposed to be just a light utility trailer but I have ended up over-building it.)  ;D

Doug, the best thing that I have found is soapstone.  Welding supply houses carry it, and I think that even the BORG's carry it in their welding section.
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Offline DouginUtah

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 02:26:41 PM »

Aw yes, now I remember. Thanks, Scott. Little rectangular sticks about 1/2"x1/8".
-Doug
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Offline caveman

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 09:51:13 PM »
I use soap stone, chalk (in a pinch), silver streak pencils (they can be bought at welding supply stores), and silver sharpe markers.  The plasma cutter will usually leave a little slag or dross on the back side of a cut that can be chipped off relatively easily.  When making straight cuts, a piece of angle iron can be used as a fence to keep the cuts straight.  The biggest two benefits of the plasma cutter over a oxy/acetylene rig is 1.  The ability to cut all metals   2.  Speed, Plasma cutter cuts faster with less distortion to thin materials.  The torch is useful when needing to bend or anneal metal as well as cutting.  Caveman 
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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2011, 08:01:33 AM »
I donít have a plasma just because they are so Dang expensive.  I do have O/A torches but donít use them much for cutting.  Iím always brazing cast so canít do without them.  A few saws help with the cutting.  Chopsaw, vertical band, and PortaBand.  Even a power hacksaw...I get a kick out of just watching it work. :)

In the last few years Iíve really started using a right angle grinder equipped with Metabo Slicer for cutting.  I could cut the parts for a trailer just with that one tool.
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Online Al_Smith

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2011, 09:43:54 AM »
FWIW in case anyone didn't know they also make soap stone in a round stick form plus a little device with a pocket clip  to hold it .Many including myself prefer this  type .If you so desire you can file,sand of in some way taper the soapstone down to a fine point like a pencil .

For that matter they also make a holder for bar type soapstone .Soapstone has been the time honored method of marking metal for torch layout and works as well today as it did 100 years ago .

Offline Coon

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2011, 03:49:18 PM »
Another thing I use sometimes for marking steel is a paint pen.  I try to find the fine tip ones when I can.  The paint inside the pen dries fast.  I get them at acklands grainger or some of the other stores that carry welding supplies.  Oh and don't let those paint pens freeze otherwise when they thaw and you tip them over to use them they will leak all over and make a heck of a mess....  Don't ask how I know.   ::)
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Offline Stump Jumper

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2011, 09:06:33 PM »
Doug get yourself a scribe to mark the line. The finer the line the more accurate you will be just be sure to wear those glasses.
Jeff
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Offline Bill Gaiche

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2011, 10:55:52 PM »
Its really all about the operator and quality of equipment in making great cuts. O/E is more versatile, cutting, brazing and to heat and bend metal. I bought a chop saw when I built my band mill and they make some good quality cuts. bg

Offline SPIKER

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2011, 10:06:38 PM »
Plasmas also require consumable parts, the tips and electrodes do get ate up when cutting the higher the amperage the more the tip wears.   so when cutting use the lowest amp setting for the material.   like noted plasma cuts all metals equally well.   mostly good for flat work not quite as well on say I beams or Channel Iron ect...

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Offline DouginUtah

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2011, 09:47:45 PM »

Yet another question...

What do you guys use to prep metal for painting? To get rid of the dirty, oily film.

I guess I could find someone with a pressure washer but water = rust, so I'm asking if there is a better process.
-Doug
When you hang around with good people, good things happen. -Darrell Waltrip

There is no need to say 'unleaded regular gas'. It's all unleaded. Just say 'regular gas'. It's not the 70s anymore. (At least that's what my wife tells me.)

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Offline shelbycharger400

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2011, 10:03:31 PM »
doug... 

marking metal.. i use paint pens on dirty or oily, or scaly metal
soap stone is nice, dosnt work on dirty , or wet
the kids side walk chalk works good, in many colors too :)

metal prep...
light oil, dish soap
heavier oils, i use grease lightning or simple green, i have used an acid wash for light rust too,  anything from a floor broom to a hand held scrub brush and gloves.

cutting ...   
 i love plotter table..  out of my price range
shear...  works awsome...dont have one...
plasma cutter...  its all down to operator AND the machine.  a $1500 chinese plasma cutter... will give you a bad cut!
grinders work as do saws.

Offline Randy88

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Re: Metal workers--Plasma cutting
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2011, 03:32:55 AM »
plasma cutters are generally used in thinner metals where a torch will warp the metal, sheet steel is an excellent place to use a plasma cutter, as for the cut, it depends on the thickness of the metal if your comparing it to a torch as to how it cuts, torches don't tend to cut thinner material very well with a smooth edge whereas a plasma will do an excellent job at that, in thicker metal they are about the same, depends on the tip condition and the operator.    As a general rule of thumb around here we use a plasma on thin stuff and a torch on thicker material, say over a 1/4 inch thick and above is torch below is plasma.   Plasma also cuts cooler thus lower warpage on thin metals.

 As for metal cleaning, the best all around way I've ever found to do it to take the finished product to a galvanizing plant and have them hot dip it for me, they acid treat and wash it then dip in in galvanizing and its done, for a fraction of the cost of painting and all that, but that's mostly for projects I make for outdoor use, signs, an atv trailer, strobe brackets on trucks, toolboxes, those types of projects, anything else its back to using mineral spirits or some form of wash type product and painting it.


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