What is Plasma Cutting? PTL explains:
To fully understand what Plasma Cutting is, we need to start with the question – what is plasma? Simply put, plasma is the fourth state of matter. We usually think of matter having three states:
Matter changes from one state to the other through the introduction of energy, such as heat. With the introduction of heat, ice (solid) becomes water (liquid) and then steam (gas). Now if the heat level increases again, the gases that make the steam will become ionized and electrically conductive, becoming plasma.
A plasma cutter will use this electrically conductive gas to transfer energy from a power supply to any conductive material, making a cleaner, faster cutting process. The vast majority of plasma cutting systems today can be grouped into either conventional or precision categories.
A tidbit of history: The plasma cutter was invented in 1955 by ESAB company founded by Oscar Kjellberg, who developed the world’s first coated welding electrode in 1904.
Conventional – uses shop air as the plasma gas and the shape of the plasma arc is defined by the orifice of the nozzle.
Precision – (high current density) is designed to produce the sharpest, highest quality cuts that are achievable with plasma. The torch is more complex and additional pieces constrict and shape the arc.