This week we give you a run down on one of the most popular types of cutting technologies used in the sheet metal manufacturing industry – the humble plasma cutter.

plasma cutter

What is it?

Plasma technology uses pressurised gas (usually nitrogen, argon or oxygen) which is sent down a small nozzle containing a negatively charged electrode. An electrical circuit is created when the tip of the nozzle comes into contact with a metal workpiece, creating a spark which heats the gas to the point that it becomes a stream of plasma.

How does it work?

When the super-heated plasma comes into contact with metal, it reduces the metal to molten slag which then falls away, creating a cut. The plasma stream is controlled by shielding gas, released by other channels in the nozzle. These can be altered to vary the thickness of the cut as well as protect against oxidisation.

Which industries are plasma cutters best suited to?

Plasma cutting technology has a wide range applications from industrial scale construction such as transport fabrication (vehicles, ships and planes etc.)  to small business (i.e. locksmiths).

What are the advantages?

Perhaps the biggest advantages of plasma cutting technology is its affordability when compared with more advanced cutting technologies. As it has been used in the sheet metal manufacturing industry since the 1980s, plasma technology is much more affordable when compared to newer innovations such as laser cutting but is able to remain competitive from an operational standpoint as it has been integrated with modern technologies such as CNC. Other advantages of plasma technology include it’s fast production speed, adaptability, versatility, low cost operation and good automation.

What are the disadvantages?

There are only two key disadvantages of plasma cutting technology. The first is a much wider kerf than laser and water jet technologies. The second is restrictions on dry cutting of up to 160 mm for dry cutting and 120 mm for cutting under water.


Acra sell high quality plasma cutter machinery in both new and used condition. To learn more about our range, or to chat with one of our knowledgeable consultants about the best technology for your needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 03 9794 6675.