Plasma cutting is a staple machine in the metal fabrication world. Since its inception in the ‘50s, it’s been an effective method of cutting through all types of metal. Using a combination of electricity and gas, an electrical arc is formed as it fires out of the nozzle at high speeds. This generates a sufficient amount of heat to cut through any type of metal.

Plasma cutting, like any other machine, is susceptible to damaged parts, however. This is primarily due to components naturally wearing out over time. The best thing you can do to prevent this is aim to keep your machine in the best shape possible and stick to a rigid, preventative maintenance checklist. This is to ensure that your machine is running optimally and prolong any wear from breaking down the machine. This blog will be looking at those methods.

Clean the torch

Disassemble the torch body and inspect each part for any damage or wear. Clean the parts as well as the inside of the torch with a cotton swab and the appropriately corresponding cleaning product. Disconnect the torch from the system and slide the tube back to examine the leads for any leaks or damage.

If these connections are damaged, then it could spell trouble for the efficiency of the machine. Look for exposed wires or pierced/kinked hoses. Make sure to check for metal dust as it can affect the voltage needed to form a stable plasma arc. Don’t forget to give it a good dusting as well.

Clean the power supply

Metal dust should be blown away using compressed air as it can damage the power supply’s components. Other components that are similarly affected by metal dust include the relays, spark-gap assemblies and air filters.

Check the gas quality

The quality of the gas you’re using to power your plasma cutter is crucial to maintaining an effective system – for both the cut quality and its longevity. Hold a clean, paper towel under the torch and expunge air through the system whilst in TEST mode to check the air quality.

You’ll know if the unit fails the test because there’ll be evidence of contaminants on the paper towel. Some of the contaminants could be water, oil or particulate. Take a look at the filters weekly. If the moisture traps accumulate water, then they should be emptied immediately.

Clean the rest of the machine

Whilst it’s the plasma torch that performs the bulk of the task, the rest of the machine is still essential to the operation. Components such as rails, gears and racks should be cleaned thoroughly and kept in good condition using degreasing agents and an abrasive pad or cloth. Grease, dirt and metal dust build-ups are not uncommon and are easily removed with a degreasing agent. The gears and bearings should be lubricated – but avoid lubricating rail sections as it will attract unwanted contaminants.

Ensure everything is aligned and secured

Check to see that the rail sections are aligned accurately and that the distance between the rails is constant across the whole system. An accurately aligned rail system will run smoothly and not drag or put any strain on the drive motors. When it comes to gears there should be no gaps between them and the racks – there needs to be a tight fit to function effectively.

Alignment bearings should have no gaps between them and rail either – they should be adjusted to the point where there is no visible light between the bearings and rail surface. Be sure not to overtighten them though. The torch-mounting component should be sturdy and not have any play as vibrations will give you a wavy cut.

Looking for a plasma cutting system?

If you stick to this maintenance guide, then you should be able to prolong your plasma cutters life. If your machine does need repairing or replacing, then that’s where we come in. ACRA Machinery specialise in efficient and effective plasma cutting systems from trusted industry-leading brands such as ESSCO. Our highly trained staff will be able to assist you with any help you may require when looking for a new plasma cutter.

Does your current system need repairs? Our engineers and technicians are experienced sheet metal machinery maintenance workers and can take a look at your machine. We also stock a large range of other sheet metal machines in both new and used condition from other trusted brands.

If you’re looking to purchase a new plasma cutting system or need your current one repaired, then please get in touch with us by calling 03 9794 6675. Alternatively, you can also contact us via the enquiry form on our website.