Plasma - a cut above the rest
1st September 2017
At Pulmans, we simply love plasma cutting. Why? Well aside from its exceptional accuracy, high speed and low operating costs, we also find ourselves fascinated by the science-fictionesque technology behind it.
When the word plasma is mentioned, people tend to assume that it must use some kind of advanced technology, and in this case, they’re not wrong! An incredible amount of science and research preceded the introduction of the plasma cutter, with inspiration taken from the universe itself!
In simple terms, plasma is a state of matter, along with solids, liquids and gasses. Plasma is created when energy is added to a gas, and this causes some of the electrons to leave the atoms, resulting in positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons – a process known as ionisation.
Around 99% of the matter in the visible universe is believed to be plasma, but here on earth, it’s not quite as common. Naturally occurring plasma is very rare on earth (mainly limited to lighting strikes), but mankind has managed to manipulate plasma for several common uses, such as neon signs, televisions and of course, cutting tools.
Plasma cutters work by taking superheated ionised gas (plasma) and channelling it at high speed from the plasma cutter to the material being cut. In order for plasma cutters to work, the material being cut must be electrically conductive in order to receive the plasma.
As plasma is a near-perfect conductor, it allows electricity to travel to the material uninhibited, creating incredibly high temperatures as it hits the material. The compressed gas also adds the benefit of blasting away the molten material, exposing the material beneath. This allows the plasma cutter to cut both thin and thick metals alike, making it an incredibly versatile cutting tool.
Combined with computer numerical control (CNC), which allow for extremely precise guidance of the cutting head, plasma cutters produce much cleaner and more accurate cuts than traditional cutting methods such as metal-on-metal and oxy-propane.
At Pulman Steel, we have four state-of-the-art plasma profiling machines for bespoke profiling needs. So next time you order some high-definition plasma cut steel profiles from Pulmans, take a second to think about the incredible technology that went into producing your bespoke profiled components.