Maximizing Consumable Life On a Plasma

We’ve looked at various aspects of the problem of maintaining your plasma cutter before.  However, it’s a good time to visit this topic again. We’ll have customers complain from time to time, that their welding consumables are wearing out at a rapid rate. Granted, there are times that a consumable could be mis-machined or something, but these instances are relatively rare. Changing out the single consumable will fix this problem. If it does not, the problem can be generally lumped into any or all of two categories.  The first is operator error. The second is poor maintenance. Dealing with operator error is the hardest, because unless you are there, it’s impossible to observe every faulty technique the user is employing.  But we can give some general guidelines that will help you avoid the most common errors in this category.

1) Learn to use the correct piercing technique.  Don’t just put the tip on the metal or near the metal to start the cut.  Lean the torch back at a 45 degree angle and start the arc.  After the arc starts, slowly rotate the arc down into the metal.  This will throw sparks sideways and also make a cut outside of the desired area so, be sure to angle your torch into the direction of the piece that is to be discarded.   As you rotate the torch head to a vertical position, the torch will blow through the metal but will not have a shower of molten metal blowing back onto the torch tip and melting it.  If possible always start the cut on the edge of the metal.

2) Make limited use of the Pilot arc.  Using the Pilot Arc excessively puts heat back on to the consumable because the torch itself is acting as the complete circuit path.  So, the arc is concentrated on the torch tip itself, and will eventually eat up the tip.   There are times when a lot of pilot arc use is necessary, but be warned welding consumables will expire quickly.

The next category falls into air compressor maintenance and proper servicing of the water filter. Here’s a few things you can do to help increase the service life of you consumables with regard to maintenance.

1) Don’t use worn out welding consumables.  If they are worn out, take them out and start with fresh ones.  Using worn consumables only puts stress on the other torch parts.

2) When replacing consumables, inspect the consumables for the type of wear you are seeing.  If black smutty stuff is collecting on the surface of the consumables internally, then it’s likely you are experiencing moisture contamination.  See the next fewitems.

3) If moisture contamination is suspected, or even if it isn’t regularly drain your air compressor.  Even in dry climates, an air compressor can suck out any moisture that there is and collect it in its tank.

4) Use a separate air dryer/ filter.  The filter provided serves more as a water trap, and not as an air dryer.   An air dryer is necessary even in dry climates.


If you will take note of these few simple suggestions, you can double or even triple the lifespan of your welding consumables.