CNC Plasma owners know how important it is to utilize their plasma consumables to their full product life, especially when it can save you product quality and equipment costs. Consumable life may seem like an inevitable and uncontrollable thing, but in fact with proper use and inspection, you can get much longer consumable usage.

On a recent webinar, Hypertherm provided us with very useful ways of maximizing consumable life and performance. The presentation described the function, critical features, how to measure wear, and how to get the best life out of your shield, nozzle, swirl ring and electrode.


  • Function – provide power to the plasma arc
  • Measure wear – if pit is deeper than .040”, replace
  • Getting the best life – use recommended settings & minimize ramp down errors


  • Function – constrict plasma gas for higher velocity providing excellent cut quality
  • Measure wear – orfice bore needs to be perfectly round with no nicks
  • Getting the best life – pierce at recommended height and amp settings

Swirl Ring:

  • Function – control the plasma gas around the electrode and into nozzle
  • Measure wear – no cracks or chips that will effect gas flow
  • Getting the best life – clean to make sure there’s no dirt or grease


  • Function – directs second gas flow to cool nozzle and control arc
  • Measure wear – main and small orfices must be perfectly round with sharp edges
  • Getting the best life – don’t pierce too close to plate, clean regularly

To improve all consumable life longevity, make sure CNC operators always install clean parts with clean hands, drops of coolant or dirt can decrease the life as they get in the way of the torches natural configuration. To view the full  document from Hypertherm, click here.


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