What are the Advantages and Limitations of Plasma Arc Machining?

What are the Advantages and Limitations of Plasma Arc Machining

While it may seem like something out of the space station, plasma arc machining is something that is used on most construction sites. Plasma arc machining has been around since the mid-1960s and has revolutionized the materials that can be used. It also has additional benefits that other machines are not able to provide. What are the Advantages of Plasma Arc Machining – PAM?


Nr.Advantages of Plasma Arc Machining – PAM
1It can be used on a wide variety of surfaces and materials
2Makes no contact with the material that is to be cut
3PAM increases how productive a worker is, as well as their accuracy
4There is little maintenance to the machine itself
5Operate with a lower energy rate and fewer chemicals
6These machines are safer for workers as well


Plasma Arc Machining is one of the most effective tools to have on a significant construction site since it can be used on almost anything, and it can make the job much more comfortable.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of plasma arc machining can help you not only understand how it works but if this is something that is beneficial to your project or career


What are the Advantages of Plasma Arc Machining?


With plasma arc machining, the most obvious benefit is being able to use the tool on pretty much any surface. It takes the guesswork out of finding the right tool for the job and can be a more economical way of supplying tools for a project or job.

Since PAM uses a high-temperature gas to cut these surfaces, the possibility of damage resulting from contact with a PAM is minimal.


Since the machine uses plasma to cut materials, there is little to no maintenance on the machine itself. It has a cleaner operating style and uses almost no chemicals to operate.

Using less energy than it would take other machines to do the same job, using the high-temperature gas allows the machine to work on more materials without additional effort.



There are also advantages for workers who use this tool. Since the jet of plasma can cut through a variety of materials, they often only need one tool for most jobs.

This helps them become more productive at the workplace, and the plasma arc allows them to be more precise with the cuts they make. The lack of debris and chemicals is also a health benefit from using these machines.


What is Plasma Arc Mining?


To put it simply, plasma arc machining is a process in which metal materials are cut with a plasma arc from a plasma gun that is similar to a torch. A gas is sent out in a high-powered stream at a high temperature and essentially melts away a material. The gas can range anywhere from 11,000C to 30,000C. It is the ideal method to cut materials that other machines may struggle with, and it can speed up the process due to the high-temperature gas.


Sometimes referred to as PAM, it began in the 1960s as a way for arc welding to use less energy. The material that you work on with PAM is often referred to as a workpiece. Depending on the material you are using, a different gas is best for each of them. Nitrogen and hydrogen are the most common gas types used in plasma arc machining, but there are variations that are used as well.


How is PAM Used?


Plasma arc machining is most often used in industries where they are working with steel and aluminum, but the uses of this machine are not limited to those. Various alloy steels, titanium plates, and magnesium are all commonly used as well.

PAM uses a plasma gun (torch) and has a small chamber that houses a tungsten electrode alongside a copper nozzle. A high-frequency arc is used to keep the spark going, which heats the gas.


Due to the high temperatures, most of the plasma guns are water-cooled to prevent them from overheating. These are often used in smaller places due to the consumption of natural gases and due to the high heat.

The plasma provides a high cutting rate, which is what is the most significant appeal to many who use them.


This process is perfect for corrosion-resistant alloys and can be used on titanium plates up to a specific thickness, often 8mm. It is commonly used in tube mills that work in producing stainless products.

This process is also found in the creation of parts for submarines and rockets.


Advantages of Plasma Arc Machining

Nr.Advantages of Plasma Arc Machining
1Plasma arc machining can be used on difficult materials
2The use of plasma keeps cutting the workpiece free from contact of the gun
3Workers are more productive and have increased accuracy
4The guns typically have lower maintenance and use fewer chemicals
5Less energy is used to do a similar job

What makes plasma arc mining standout is the ability to use it to cut difficult materials. 

While aluminum and steel are the most common, any tough or delicate material is perfect for plasma arc machining. The high-velocity gas allows the machine to eat away the material that needs to be cut, and it is not as hard on the machine as it would be on others. Since it uses gas, there is no contact from the actual plasma gun itself to the workpiece.


Using a plasma arc machine is a more skilled welding technique that not everyone can do. This results in a more experienced worker who will often find they are more productive while using this tool, and they are able to increase the accuracy at which they are cutting due to the plasma arc being used. Since there are no harsh chemicals used, it is also much safer for the worker to handle.


Plasma arc machining requires less maintenance than other tools similar to it. It does not create a ton of extra debris or damage from chemicals. While they are more expensive to own in the first place, it is a better quality tool and requires less work down the road.


Disadvantages of Plasma Arc Machining


Nr.Disadvantages of Plasma Arc Machining
1It is difficult and reduces the amount of workers who are trained
2The equipment is extremely expensive and difficult to fix or repair
3Plasma arc machining has a high gas consumption
4It is not great for use on big products due to costs
5Heat and fumes could damage the workpiece

Plasma arc machining can be complicated to start.
Not only is there more training required to learn how to use one of these machines, but the cost of the machines is expensive, which limits who can use them often and actually get an ROI back. Needing more training also limits who is going to be able to use them.


Although it is great for the productivity of a worker and uses less energy to do the same job as machines that are not as powerful, it still has a high gas consumption. Instead of simply plugging a machine in, this requires the purchase of additional gas to be used, and burns of natural resources a quicker rate. Due to this, it is not great for larger jobs.


It helps with accuracy for workers, but the bulkiness of the tool can sometimes get in the way, making it hard to see where the arc is cutting. Additionally, the gas can create fumes that could damage the workpiece. The workpiece could see damage from the high-temperature of the tool as well.

Here, you can find an article from our website about the topic: Is welding a Hard Job?






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David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at weldingtroop.com. David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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