Plasma Terms Glossary

Have you ever had trouble understanding terminology used by others in manufacturing? For those of you who are new to plasma cutting, listed below are definitions to some of the most commonly used plasma terms.

  • Angularity: Measurement of the plasma cut angle.
  • AC: An electric current that reverses its direction many times a second at regular intervals, typically used in power supplies.
  • CNC: Computer Numeric Control, the automation of machine tools operated by programmed commands.
  • Lag lines: Ridges in the surface of the cut.
  • Dross: Waste material from plasma or oxyfuel cutting processes.
  • Heat-affected zone (HAZ): The area on the material where its micro-structure and properties are altered due to welding or heat intensive cutting.
  • 3000 Series Plasma (500x390)Kerf: A slit made by cutting.
  • Nesting: The positioning of parts to minimize material waste.
  • Plasma: A distinct phase of matter, separate from solids, liquids, and gases, frequently described as a hot “ionized gas.”
  • Plasma cutting: A process used to cut metals. Gas is forced through a nozzle along with an electrical arc turning some of that gas into plasma, hot enough to melt the material being cut.
  • Electric arc: An electrical breakdown of a gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge.
  • Cut surface: The area of the plasma table that holds the material to be cut.
  • Zoned Downdraft: A cut surface where particles and fumes are transferred through a filter system to clean the air.
  • Water Table: A cut surface where particles or fumes are pushed into the water so none remain in atmosphere.
  • Oxy-fuel: A cutting process that requires pre-heating of the material to the point where a high-power torch is able to direct a stream of oxygen through the material to burn it away.
  • Dxf file: Drawing Exchange Format, a CAD data file format that works for exchanging and using information between AutoCAD and other programs.
  • Welding: The process of joining metals by melting the parts.
  • Metal Fabrication: The building of machines, structures and other equipment, by cutting, shaping and assembling parts made from raw materials.


The plasma cutting industry is full of unique words and phrases. Hypertherm has provided some key terms for your knowledge. Read on to learn what they mean.


  • Auto-voltage circuit: Input sensing that allows the system to run on a variety of voltages with no rewiring.
  • Blow-back: Patented technology provides a pilot arc, which is a small pocket of plasma gas. A high-voltage, low current circuit is used to initialize a very small high-intensity spark within the torch body which generates the pilot arc.
  • Boost Conditionercircuit: Hypertherm technology that compensates for input voltage variations.
  • Coaxial-assist jet: Patented jet design boosts cutting speed as much as 20% over conventional designs.
  • Dual-thresholdpilot circuit: Hypertherm technology that significantly reduces nozzle wear by increasing the pilot current precisely when needed.
  • ETR (Easy Torch Removal): A unique connector design that provides easy switching between hand and machine torches.
  • FineCut: A line of Hypertherm consumables that deliver significant improvements in cut quality on thin-plate metals by providing a narrow kerf width, reduction in dross, and virtually no heat-affected zone.
  • G3 Series
  • HyLife® Electrodes: that last longer than ordinary electrode designs by using the same patented technologies developed for advanced Hypertherm mechanized systems.

With better knowledge of plasma terms and their meaning, not only will you be more knowledgeable about plasma cutting, you will also be able to make more informed purchase decisions. Click here to visit our Plasma Cutting systems page and view our available products, and visit, for all your consumable needs.


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