A wide range of plasma torches is available on the market. The general principle of their functioning is the same, though they differ in parameters and, most importantly, in their application.
In one of the previous articles we discussed elements and functioning principles of the plasma cutter. Additionally, we discussed various solutions in range of consumables adjusted to different applications. Now, we will focus on torches offered by the leading manufacturer, Hypertherm.
The design of all the torches is comparable – they work on the same principle. Hence, we can distinguish three basic elements of the torch: body, casing and cable set.
The torch is connected to the plasma source (such as the Powermax 45 XP) via a cable set. The gas, as the name suggests, provides the gas supply hose to the torch. The role of the voltage lead is to deliver voltage to the electrode. The pilot arc wire allows the current to return to the source (closes the circuit) during the initial ignition phase. As the final is the consumable sensor lead. As flexible components, the wires can be vulnerable to damage under operating conditions, especially when cutting by hand. Therefore, it is worth thinking about protecting them with an additional cover.
The body to which the wires are connected is the “heart” of the torch. It is also called “the head”. Its ending is the head, which serves as a holder for consumables and is responsible for supplying them with gas. It is also equipped with a sensor cap. This useful solution detects whether the consumables are correctly installed, thus increasing the safety of use and durability of the materials. The design of the body and head may vary depending on the type and application. Therefore, when selecting consumables, make sure that they are compatible with the torch.
The housing, also called the hand, protects the more delicate parts of the torch body. It also serves as a handle for the operator, CNC table or robot. Depending on the application, housings may vary greatly – more details will be described later in the article.
The torches can be divided into three categories: for manual, machine and automated cutting. Manual cutting is becoming highly popular. Accordingly, the interest in the advantages of CNC technology is also growing. However, plasma cutting with a robot is currently the rarest on our market.
A characteristic feature of manual plasma cutters is the trigger. With the trigger, the operator switches on the flow of current and gas – i.e. starts plasma cutting or gouging. Hence, this element must be ergonomic and durable. Moreover, the trigger needs to have protection to prevent an accidental arc activation for safety reasons.
The ergonomic hand design affects the operator’s comfort, precision and work safety. It is, therefore, important that the hand is properly designed. The torch itself should also not be too large so as not to limit the view.
For maximum ergonomics, Duramax hand torches are available in two versions. The cutting version is at 75° angle. The 15° version is designed for gouging operations.
The Extended Duramax Hyamp hand torches are also worth mentioning. They are designed for comfort and safety during demanding work, such as scrap cutting. Hyamp torches are available in lengths from 0.6 m, 1.2 m and up to 1.8 m.
The ergonomics of the operator is not that important if the machine operates the torch. Torch housings for mechanised cutting are therefore much simpler than in manual solutions. There is also no trigger included, as the operation is controlled by a signal from the CNC controller. Moreover, they are equipped with a gear that allows the CNC machine to raise and lower the torch.
The design of this type of torch is optimised for cutting with a robot. The torches are short and equipped with special sockets and grooves that help the robot to “hold” the torch. Hypertherm robotised cutting torches are available in three versions with different bending angle: 180°, 90° and 45° (for cutting inside the element, bevel cutting and gouging).
Choosing the right torch is extremely important. It is essential to make sure that it is appropriately job fitted and compatible with the selected plasma system. That is why we are always ready to help.
As a final note, we present two short videos from our partner Hypertherm, showing the strength of the Duramax torches.