Plasma Cutting - Setting Air pressure correctly

By now, if you've gotten your plasma set up and a dryer installed, you're likely wondering exactly how much air pressure to use, and what amperage to set for each thickness. You may even be surfing around the net for some chart to give you a precise setting of amps and air pressure with a cross reference for each possible variable and situation. The bonus and hidden feature of plasma cutting, is that close is usually good enough to get the job done, and done well. It’s really difficult to give real details on dialing in a plasma cutter. Sure, a plasma cutter designer could go through several detailed and laborious design parameters, and projected performance for each rough setting, but it will never substitute for user practice, and hands on experience. In short, experience is the best teacher. With the Everlast Power Plasma series plasma cutters, the units have a signal light that tells the operator when air pressure is past the safe minimum range, above 35 psi roughly. This does not mean though it is at optimal operating pressure when the light comes on, but at a pressure that will help protect the torch from meltdown. It also has built in over current and duty cycle protection that will shut down operation should something be done seriously wrong with the unit. This helps take a load off the user at the beginning. One thing concerning basic air pressure settings, across the board, with each manufacturer and torch, air pressure requirements and flow requirements can greatly vary. For the majority of the Everlast product line, air pressure required to operate the torches is anywhere between 55 to 70 psi. Low amperage cuts will require less air pressure for more stable operation, sometimes down to 45 psi or so, or the arc will be blown out. In general, the blowback design torch found on the PowerPlasma 50 works best around 60-65 psi for most pressures. The HF torches can vary more, but simple, short test cuts can give great insight on the optimum pressure. Look for signs such as dross (slag) residual, cleaness of cut lines, and kerf width to help you find the best pressure for the amp level and material you are cutting.