Plasma Cutters, What Can't A Plasma Cutter Do?

Plasma cutters have many uses, pushing it's capability.I’ve often gotten calls from scientists, researches, inventors etc. all wanting a plasma cutter for some “off label” use or application. Admittedly some of them are quite strange. One the other day wanted to know if our plasma would be able to be used in a vacuum and power some sort of electrode. Most of the time its above my head and paygrade. But I listen and try to grasp what they are saying. One thing is for certain, there are some distinct limitations for plasma cutting when compared to oxy acetylene cutting. The list is fairly short and its’ advantages over oxy acetylene for speed, efficiency and cost of operation are quite clear, but there are a few distinct areas a plasma cutter can’t compete against an oxy acetylene torch. For example, it cannot heat up objects like stuck nuts or worn out bearings to loosen them for removal. Nor can it heat up metal to straighten (or bend) an object to the desired form after it has been bent or sprung out of place. A plasma cutter is excellent at cutting through rust, and multiple layers of metal with gaps and air spaces between. That is an advantage, but it is also a disadvantage when it comes to just cutting what you want without scarring or destroying an underlying object. For example, the other day I needed to remove a large nut that was stuck on the blade bolt of a rotary cutter. I had used every tool I had included a large impact wrench. Nother budged. I did not want to destroy the bolt as it needed to be matched up. With the oxy acetylene torch, I was able to completely remove the nut by cutting it free of the bolt with the flame barely nicking the bolt. I could have done a flawless job if I had needed to, but for the job, I only needed to preserve the overall length and width. But if needed, the bolt could have been reused without any real touchup or rethreading of the bolt needed. I’ve used this trick on bearings that had to be cut off of axle and pinion shafts without doing damage. The fact that the heat does not readily conduct between the microscopic gap and the underlying part is actually an asset in this application. Though if you need to stack cut, oxy acetylene is hard pressed to accomplish this feat while a plasma cutter goes right through. There are a lot of things that a plasma cutter can do. In fact according all the out-of-left-field calls I get about them, I doubt we know the extent of a plasma cutter’s capability. But keep in mind that it will never be able to fully replace an oxy-acetylene torch when it comes to heating and cutting discriminately only what you want it to cut if two parts are close together.Everlast Power Equipment, your plasma cutter experts.Learn more on our welding forum