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Exploring Plasma Cutting

Written by:
Connie Green
What is plasma cutting and how do we utilise it in the steel industry?

Plasma cutting is an incredible process used to cut sheet metal and plates. To explore this process, we first have to ask the question, what is plasma?. To put it simply, plasma is similar to gas in that it has no definable shape or volume but it has an electrical charge and is considered to be the fourth state of matter alongside solids, liquids and gases. 

Plasma cutting is a process wherein an electrical arc is formed between the material to be cut and an electrode within the nozzle of the machine. A high velocity stream of ionised gas (plasma) is then used to cut through the material. The plasma is created by heating a gas (such as compressed air, argon or nitrogen) to an extremely high temperature, the plasma is then directed through the nozzle where it is focused and accelerated to extremely high speeds. When the plasma stream comes into contact with the material, it melts and evaporates it, creating a precise, clean cut. 

Plasma cutting only works on electrically conductive material as it has to react to the ionised gas coming through the nozzle. This means that it is typically used on materials such as aluminium, brass, copper and of course, stainless steel and steel. 

Here at Neil’s Steels we have two RUR 2500 CNC Plasma Cutters, one for for sheet metal up to 20mm thick at our Portslade site and the other for up to 65mm thick at our Partridge Green site, both with a table size of 4000x2000mm.

Plasma cutter cutting steel sheet metal

What can plasma cutting be used for? 

  • Cutting sheets and plates
  • Creating precise and intricate shapes in metal for decorative and artistic purposes. 
  • Creating clean, precise edges on metal sheets and plates
  • Recycling scrap metal by cutting it into smaller pieces 
  • Creating holes, slots and other openings in metal for various purposes. 
  • Trimming or shaping metal 
  • Custom fabrication

Plasma cutting is a very efficient and versatile cutting method that can be used for a wide range of applications and its ability to cut through a wide range of thicknesses and materials makes it a popular choice among many industries especially when working with steel.

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