There are many questions one need to answer before one can select a piece of equipment from so many manufacturers and models thereof:
Let us approach the problem logically:
- How many hours of cutting is required per day?
- What kind of power supply is available where the equipment has to be used? Is it 1-phase or 3-phase, what KVA rating supply is available? What are the other loads connected on the same line.
- What kind of portability is required? Will it be used in the shop or will it be taken to job sites. Is the power supply, compressed air supply available at the site?
- What kind of materials is required to be cut and how thick is it likely to be?
- Will it be a manual cutting exclusively or is there a possibility to use this machine with a CNC profile cutting machine?
- What are the Budget limitations?
Higher the output amperage of the machine, higher in duty cycle is at lesser current. In other words,
if the requirement is to use machine round the clock, one should consider higher capacity machine than it would be required to cut the thickness.
If requirement is for frequent cutting but not continuously, consider a machine which is capable of cutting its thickest material as per the requirement. Duty cycle information is available with manufacturers.
Advantage of plasma cutting over oxyfuel cutting of mild steel is due to the faster speed of plasma cutting. This reduces with increase in thickness of material. Cutting speed of air plasma is 4 to 8 times higher depending upon the thickness of cutting. Mild steel cutting up to 12mm thickness is most economical with air plasma. Thickness beyond 50 mm is not recommended for plasma cutting.
Quality and speed of cutting improves drastically if oxygen is used as plasma for mild steel cutting.
45 amps inverter plasma is very good for shop as well as site jobs for cutting materials in the range of 12 to 15 mm. This machine weighs approx 25 kgs and this is available in 1-phase & 3-phase supply compatibility.
100 amps inverter plasma cutting machine is good for cutting thickness up to 25mm. This weighs approx 60kgs and works on 3-phase supply. Both these machines can be used with CNC profile cutting system.
Compressed air supply at 11 CFM (free air discharge) is required A 3-hp double piston double cylinder air compressor with 250 liters receiver meets the air requirement.
For cutting higher thickness of stainless steel such as 50mm, 100mm or 200mm consider plasma power source which delivers cutting current in the range of 300 amps to 1000 amps. Models are available for cutting 50mm, 75mm, 100mm & 200mm thickness material. They have water cooled torch and use nitrogen+ hydrogen, Argon+Hydrogen gases.
All these machines are designed to work with CNC profile cutting machine. Piercing of material up to 75mm in SS & 60 mm in MS is possible.
Like most other things in life, “you get what you pay for”. Investment in good quality machine pays in long run in terms of better reliability, better quality of cut, longer life for consumables and lease maintenance.
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