High Quality Torches
Plasma cutting requires proper maintenance on all components of the machine. A previous post mentioned maintaining your consumables to lengthen their life resulting in cost savings; now our focus will be on the torch. The torch allows the plasma gases as well as the coolant to pass through while protecting the consumables inside. Though it is important to have the all consumables maintained and greased, if the torch quality is not up to par the consumables will erode regardless.
No matter how thick the material is, a high quality torch will always yield optimal results. In the HVAC industry, gauge material is thinner and easier to cut but that may not yield the optimal cut quality that is always desired. All of the machine components need to be kept in excellent working shape if they are to perform to the best of their abilities.
Pinpointing where consumables fail
Consumables within the torch are meant to erode over time, but the goal is to prolong their life as much as possible to reduce operating costs. In order to do so, you need to pinpoint frequent erosion areas on your consumable parts. Erosion could occur in a number of places: the nozzle, nozzle shield, or electrode. Generally, the nozzle and electrode wear away the quickest as they are both adversely affected by the gasses.
The nozzle is designed to focus the plasma arc directly onto the material. Internal nozzle damage comes from incorrect gas settings whereas external nozzle damage occurs when the torch has not adjusted to the proper height causing splatter on the work piece. If you notice unusually frequent erosion of these parts, look to the gas distributor as your first step.
If the emitting element has depleted, the plasma arc will begin to emit off of the surrounding copper or silver case meaning that the electrode needs to be replaced. If the gas and coolant begin to mix with the internal parts of the torch, the electrode will wear away very quickly.
Lastly, when there is damage on the nozzle shield it is critical for it to be replaced. The shield protects the nozzle and once damage occurs on the shield, the nozzle will begin to wear away as well. Damage to both of these consumables will result in incorrect gas flow and ultimately poor cut quality. For more on Plasma Torch parts, refer to a previous post.