Can You Cut Copper With A Plasma Cutter?

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Are you new to metal fabrication techniques? Experts in metal fabrication techniques include forming, joining, and machining copper metals and their related materials. Cutting copper with a plasma cutter is extremely helpful at some point in metal fabrication as it is a regular part of your job. However, copper is one of the hard metals at the time of cutting. Therefore, it needs some powerful techniques for cutting the metal alloys.

I have years of experience in the metal fabrication industry and see many other works to use the plasma cutter for various purposes.

But still, if you have confusion regarding the query "Can You Cut Copper with a Plasma Cutter?" Here is my approach.

Yes, you can cut copper with plasma cutters due to its potential electric conductivity. Copper cutting requires specific amperage ranges up to 50amp. Moreover, you can cut the steel materials with sample specifications of the plasma cutter. Keep in mind that you must start the cutting process slowly, then add steel pieces with copper for quick cutting.

So here I will clear all about the plasma cutter for copper cutting and its related alloys.

Tips to Cut copper with a Plasma Cutter

Tips To Cut Copper With A Plasma Cutter

Copper cutting with a plasma cutter is tricky, so you need to have some essential tips as a beginner. These tips and tricks help you to cut the copper quickly and efficiently.

So here are the three essential tips that you need to follow during the plasma cutting process.

Materials for Plasma Cutters:

A plasma cutter is effective for many metal cutting tasks, but metal is a common material. Traditionally an oxy-acetylene torch is used for cutting the thicker metal pieces. But it is an expensive and challenging torch to use with a lot of consequences. However, now plasma cutters make it easy to cut the metal through an affordable and easy process.

Plasma cutters can cut various metals, including tin, copper, fiberglass, aluminum, and many more. All these metals are difficult to cut with traditional methods, but plasma cutters make the operation easy. So it is advisable to use the plasma cutter for metal or copper cutting even though you are experienced or beginner.

Different Cutting Styles:

Every metal requires a different cutting style for effective results. The plasma cutter has a specific technique in which it uses the conductive material and charges the metal to cut effectively and quickly.

Keep in mind that some materials don't conduct electricity, so you need to add some metal pieces to make them conductive. For example, if you need to cut the fiberglass, then slowly add metal pieces. However, the copper metal quickly conducts electricity, so it is easy to cut with the plasma cutters.

Is Copper Electrically Conductive?

As I already said, plasma cutters work best with electric conductive metals. So you may be confused regarding copper electric conductivity. So every metal has a different level of conductivity that depends on some factors. However, from all those metals, copper has the highest electric and heat conductivity. In addition, it has various other qualities, including corrosion resistance, effective joining, and high flexibility with medium strength.

According to researchers, copper has 65% more conductivity than aluminum. So it has 1.5 to 30 times better electric conductivity than aluminum and stainless steel, respectively. Moreover, if you have a heat transfer project, then copper should be your first choice. You can find many examples of copper heat and electric conductivity around you, like computer devices or vehicle radiators.

Why Is Electrical Conductivity Important?

Electric conductivity is a crucial part of plasma cutting. Plasma cutting includes the hot plasma that comes through the accelerated jet. It produces electric conductivity in metal at the time of cutting. It produces the electric channel through electrically ionized and heated gas from metal that you need to cut. So this process creates a complete circuit that moves back toward the plasma machine at the earth terminal and repeats the same process.

So it is clear now that electric conductivity produces through gasses like oxygen or any inert gas. However, every metal requires different inert gasses for this process—plasma cutters through this gas with high speed from the nozzle. When you cut the metal, an arc is produced between the metal and electrode. This electric arc ionized the gas and created a plasma channel. Torch is a part of a plasma cutter that passes the current through the plasma nozzle and creates massive heat to cut the copper metals.

The plasma cutter runs at high speed with the gas composition that melts the metal and cuts it in the required direction. It also protects the metal from damages during the rigorous cutting process.

However, electric conductivity is the key process in plasma cutting as it creates heat and enables the copper to cut in a specific direction. As I already mentioned, every metal has a different electric conductivity potential, so you need to choose the plasma cutter according to the metal.

How to Cut Copper with a Plasma Cutter?

So it is clear that the plasma cutter can cut the copper. But you may be confused regarding its process and suitable method. Keep in mind that it is all about the preparation and selection of the right plasma cutter specification. If you have the perfect combination of all these things, you can cut any metal using a plasma cutter.

Here is the proper guideline to cut the copper with a plasma cutter to avoid any practical operations.

Ventilate the work area:

Copper is identified as high smoke-producing metal during cutting through plasma cutters or high temperatures. A plasma cutter provides massive heat to the copper for cutting and absorbs the heat quickly—this heat-absorbing power of copper results in the extraction of massive smoke.

Keep in mind that this smoke has toxic compounds that can be harmful to you during cutting. So it is appropriate to have a well-ventilated area that keeps the air clean and removes toxins quickly. You can also use the breathable air mask while cutting the copper with plasma cutters.

Get the specs right:

It is one of the crucial parts of the copper cutting job that you need to look at at the beginning of the process. Suppose you don't have the right specs according to copper, which may lead to bigger failure. I will not mention any plasma cutter brand or model as it may confuse you, but I recommend reading the manual for an effective plasma cutting unit.

Here are some specs and their related capabilities in copper cutting. If your plasma cutter has 50 amps, then it can effectively cut the half-inch thickness of copper. Amps lower than 50 amps can not cut any metal with a thickness of more than ¼ inches. So check the amps first and confirm that it is according to the copper thickness.

After reviewing many plasma cutters, I can tell you that most of them have specifications for stainless steel and aluminum metal, so you need to do some adequate research to find the best plasma cutter for copper or brass cutting.

However, ensure that your plasma cutter has the right specs for copper cutting, as it is an essential factor in cutting.

'Torch to Work' Distance or Standoff:

The standoff is a method to monitor the arc voltage and control it effectively. Arc voltage is essential in copper cutting as it represents the output voltage of the power supply. Both these terms are the same but effective for plasma cutters. It requires a regular power source but generated current is different when cutting the copper through the torch.

The arc voltage depends on the time of electrode and cathode inside the plasma torch to cut the metal. Both these voltages are in direct proportion, which means they can resist the distance. So the decreased standoff results in decreased arc voltage.

Set the arc voltage, but every setting leads to the specific distance essential for cutting the copper. The height and distance affect the cutting angle, so it must be at a specific range for effective cutting.

Prepare for Table Cutting:

Experts prefer to use the plasma cutting table as it enhances the control in the whole process. Plasma cutting table specifically designed for cutting through plasma torches, so workers have the ease in process and maintain the direction of cutting. Beginners also desire to have the plasma cutting table but keep in mind that metal pieces have the suitable thickness. Most plasma cutting tables are best for 1-inch thickness, but you can choose your table according to work demand. Ensure that the plasma cutting table can withstand the heat generated by the plasma cutters.

Don't Cut Too Fast:

Keep in mind that copper is an excellent heat conductor metal, so cut it slowly. You can conduct a test before you start cutting the copper to access the right speed of the plasma cutter. The right speed of the plasma cutter while cutting provides the straight-line cutting of copper.

Speed of cutting represents 3 inches per minute. However, if you follow the right speed for every metal, you can feel the changes in the final cutting results. For example, slow cutting ensures the even and straight cut in a copper piece and a more extended cut.

Final Thoughts

Summing up the above discussion, it is clear that a plasma cutter is the best technique for cutting copper. Every metal has a different heat and electric conductivity level that is key for cutting through plasma cutters. You need to select the plasma utter according to the metal's heat and electric conductivity power so you will get the straight cut. Plasma cutter amps are essential to look at while selecting them.

Moreover, you need to follow the suitable method and specs for cutting the copper. Remember that no one is an expert initially, so you need to work and experience a relative field like copper or other metal cutting.

I hope this guide will help you cut copper with a plasma cutter and have a better experience than traditional methods.

FAQ

What metals can you cut with a plasma cutter?

A plasma cutter effectively cuts the electric conductive metals by using hot plasma. Typically a plasma cutter has a torch that cuts steel, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, copper, and other electrically conductive metals. So electric conductivity is an essential aspect of metal for cutting it through plasma cutters.

What can a plasma cutter not cut?

Plasma cutters can not cut non-conductive materials, including fiberglass, glass, concrete, and ceramic. These products are best for electric insulation but not suitable for plasma cutters. If you want to cut non-conductive metals, add some electric conductive metal pieces to cut them properly.

Will a plasma cutter cut bronze?

The plasma cutter must have the specific amps and tube dynamics with 5/8 inches thickness for cutting the bronze. These specifications are suitable for cutting stainless steel, brass, bronze, aluminum, and many other metals with a similar conductivity.

Can a plasma cutter cut wood?

Plasma cutters can cut the metals as they have electric conductivity to conveniently cut the stainless steel, brass, copper, and many other metals. However, it does not cut the wood because it is non-conductive to heat and electricity. But if you add some steel pieces, then it can cut the wood.

Will a plasma cutter cut welds?

Plasma cutting is best for cutting the weld as it can conduct electricity and heat. Weld consists of molten metal that is effectively cut with the plasma cutters. To cut the weld, you need to have gouging skill which is essential for cutting the weld.

What is the thickest metal a plasma cutter can cut?

A plasma cutter can cut the specific thickness according to its torch capacity. However, the average range of thickness for a plasma cutter is 1 inch that every machine can cut.

Will a plasma cutter cut Carbide?

Yes, a plasma cutter can cut or drill through the Carbide for making chips and many other purposes. However, you need to be an expert in plasma cutting techniques for carbide cutting and polish it using diamond wheels.

Can you cut glass with a plasma cutter?

Glass is similar to wood as both are non-conductive to heat and electricity. So it can not be cut with the plasma cutter. However, you can use a metal sheet in front of the glass to cut the glass—metal sheets help create the arc and melt the glass for cutting.

Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by weldinghubs

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