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How Thick Can A Plasma Cutter Cut?

Plasma cutting is a process which is used to cut through material that is electrically conductive by using an accelerated jet of heated plasma. The materials which can be cut by using a plasma torch include stainless steel, steel, aluminium, brass and copper besides other conductive metals. Plasma cutting is often adopted by automotive repair shops, fabrication shops, industrial construction, salvage and scrapping operations, and restoration units because of the high-speed and precision cuts plasma cutting can offer combined with the low costs which are involved.

If you are one among the many who are looking forward to having a plasma cutter for the use you may want to understand the thickness plasma cutters can penetrate before you decide to purchase any brand which is being offered.If you are considering investing in a CNC plasma cutting system you are advised to conduct proper research to understand not just the price but also the kind of differences in the ability of the cutting system. You must pay particular attention to the "cut thickness ability" because it will give you an indication of whether the system you are investing money in is actually suitable for your needs or not. It is essential for you to understand that the thickness of the material which needs to be cut will be determined by the cutting process. The plasma torch that you choose to pair with your system will determine the thickness of the material which can be cut.

The description provided above should give you a clear indication that you need to invest in a system which will be appropriate for your requirements by looking into the minute details of the plasma cutter you have chosen before making an investment. You also need to have adequate information about the kind of cutting you are likely to be involved in before you conclude the kind of material thickness your plasma cutter is capable of handling. It is also essential for you to understand that you need to weigh several factors before determining a cost-effective piercing strategy because the speed and precision of plasma have made it a preferred choice among many even when they are looking forward to cutting extremely thick plates.

What a Plasma Cutters do for You?

Information has been provided earlier that plasma cutting is useful against electrically conductive materials of all types including structured and high alloy steels, nonferrous elements like aluminium and copper and even clad metal plates. The plasma cutting technology you have in your possession, the capacity of the cutting system and the type of material to be cut, sheet metal from between 0.5 MM and 180 MM can be pierced.

Plasma cutting has no competition when matters related to cutting medium or thick sheets of high alloy steel and aluminum is concerned. It can be used for cutting regular structural steel which is about 40 MM in thickness without any distortion especially in cases of fragile workpieces. It is also suitable for cutting high-strength fine-grained structural steel because the high-speed of cutting is particularly important in fabricating processes of the preliminary variety.

It must be noted that the figures mentioned are not universal for every plasma cutting system and manufacturers of these devices have incorporated cutting capacities of various types of different material which may be used. It is for this reason that you need to determine beforehand the kind of usage you expect to have before going ahead and investing money in a system.

Some plasma cutting systems allow a maximum pierce of 1.000" for mild steel and 0.750" for stainless steel. The maximum pierces for aluminium is 0.750". Similarly, some manufacturers are allowing higher capacities for the metals mentioned and therefore it cannot be assumed that a single system will be suitable for the requirements of everyone.

What are the Techniques of Plasma Cutting?

The procedures of plasma cutting are regularly being improved and the primary objective of these improvements is to bring about a reduction in environmental pollution while increasing the efficiency of the system and improving the character of the cut edge. The objective of the manufacturers is to develop a couple of plane parallel surfaces which are evenly cut and require the minimum or no finishing before they are dispatched for further processing.

The type of material that needs to be cut, the thickness of the material along with the output of the power source our determinants of a number of plasma cutting variations which are available on the market. The variations which are available are mainly different because of the plasma burner design, the system for material feed and the material used for the electrodes. The types of plasma burners mentioned below will give you an overview of the various options which are possible in the designing of a plasma burner. These plasma burners are based on the type of compression they are designed for but are equally effective and can deliver the desired capacity if proper choices are made during the purchase of the system.

The plasma burners we are referring to include the following:

  • Conventional plasma cutting which is also known as standard plasma cutting.
  • Plasma cutting through a secondary medium.
  • Plasma cutting with a secondary gas.
  • Plasma cutting with secondary water.
  • Water injection plasma cutting.
  • Plasma cutting with enhanced compression.

People that are looking forward to investing in a plasma cutting system must understand that it is their equipment which will determine the kind of cutting capacity the plasma cutter needs to have. The process of plasma cutting involves the creation of an electrical channel of extremely heated plasma from the cutter itself to be used on the piece of work that needs to be cut. The task is accomplished by focusing compressed gas which is blown at high-speed at the work piece. There are various factors and types of systems which will determine the thickness which can be handled by the plasma cutter.

Regardless of whether thin or thick materials need to be cut plasma cutting is an effective method which can be used by people to accomplish the tasks they have in hand. Handheld plasma cutters have a capacity of cutting steel plates which are 38 MM thick while some of the better torches which are computer-controlled have the ability to cut steel which is 6 inches thick.

Plasma cutting systems have varied capacities and therefore it is essential for the individual to conduct proper research into the kind of usage they have before they decide on the kind of thickness a plasma cutter can penetrate and invest money in a system. Prices should not be a concern for people because unlike in the past when plasma cutters were expensive not only have prices dropped but the systems have also become lighter without compromising on the kind of capacities plasma cutters are known for.

If you have any other questions or worries please contact us, or if you have any comments or improvements please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


What is a Plasma Cutter Used For?

We have always been taught that matter has three states – solid, liquid and gas. Matter changes from one state to another when heat is applied. On removal of that heat, it changes back to a less volatile state. This transition or state change of matter, happens when enough heat is applied to move the molecules, thereby changing the state of matter. 

What is Plasma?

Matter has another state too; a state known as plasma. We do not usually hear about this state, because it is not experienced in everyday life. While we see solids, liquids and gases almost on a daily basis, we would not encounter plasma except in very specific, controlled conditions.

Plasma is a state obtained by matter only when an arc of electricity is sent through a specific gas. The heat caused by the electric arc causes the already quickly moving gas-molecules to disrupt further and become ionized.

These ions are electrically conductive and can be extremely dangerous because of high energy present.

When the gas is injected through a constricted opening, the high energy plasma can be used to cut metal. The types of metal that may be cut include steel, aluminium, brass and copper.

These metals can be cut using many different cutting devices, but plasma cutting is quicker, cost-effective and produces better results in less time, compared to almost all other methods.

What is the Difference between Plasma and Gas?

Plasma is another state of gas, only highly heated up and conductive. Plasma occurs when an electric arc creates a highly charged state. This state is used to cut through metals easily.

Plasma has equal number of negative as well as positive ions. It is made to flow through a thin nozzle of a torch, which helps maintain the direction and flow of the plasma.

Though there are many metals in nature that need cutting, shaping and filing, plasma cutting is not recommended for a lot of them due to various reasons.

Clearly, the gas, in the absence of the electric arc will not cut anything.

Why are Plasma Cutters not recommended for all Metals?

One of the biggest reasons is – melting temperature of the metals. If temperature at which the metal melts is relatively low, the cut edge would not be as clean and fine, as may be required.

Plasma cutting is only recommended for the metals that can withstand high temperatures, and do not melt easily. Another big reason is the ‘conduction properties of metals’. Only the metals that are highly conductive can be cut using a plasma cutter. Non-conductive metals are difficult to cut through.

How does a Plasma Cutter Work?

A plasma cutter works in a way that the arc carries stream of gas from an electrode through an opening.

It is also across the conductive metal that is being cut.

In addition, a regular stream of pure oxygen is also passed while passing plasma, so that the edges can be sharply cut and defined. Oxygen also quickens the overall process of cutting.

What is the Purpose of a Plasma Cutter?

A plasma cutter is usually utilized in heavy-metal industries, where workers cut through thick blocks of metal with ease using the cutter. It is also called plasma torch sometimes, because of the nature of the substance passed through it.

The plasma cutter is easy to operate using your hand. It forms a complete electrical circuit while cutting the work-piece, thereby allowing the artist to form desired patterns and shapes on the metal with ease.

History of the Plasma Cutters

Plasma cutting evolved from plasma welding, that had many advantages over traditional method of metal against metal cutting.

Earlier, hand-held tools and equipment like saws were used to cut metal. It was not only a dangerous process for the workers, but also time-consuming.

Saw cutting was inefficient and wasted a lot of metal as scraps, which again had to be melted to form sheets or, other objects.

All in all, saw-cutting or traditional metal-cutting methods were quickly replaced by plasma welding, and then plasma cutting, because of the quickness and cleanliness of the final piece it produced.

What Types of Plasma Cutter Procedures are there?

There are two popular types of plasma cutting procedures – conventional and precision.


  • In conventional plasma cutting process, the arc of the plasma is usually defined by the opening of the nozzle, and shop-air gas is used in the plasma torch.
  • The ampage of this type of cutting is approximately 10 to 12 amps per square inch.


  • In precision cutting, the torch design is more complex compared to conventional cutting.
  • Here, the design is made in such a manner that highest quality cuts with sharp edges and clean form, can be achieved through plasma.
  • Gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, or a combination of both are usually utilized in this procedure to produce highest quality results in minimal time.

What are the Benefits of a Plasma Cutter?

Apart from saving time, a high-end cutting mechanism, plasma cutting is also used in automated process of cutting metals.

It is not only easy for the workers to cut through metal using the hand-torch, but it can also be coupled with digital software to produce intricate designs and cuts, that are otherwise tough to make through manual labour.

Plasma cutting reduces a lot of effort, time and wastage of metal by this state of the art technique.

How Does a Plasma Cutter Work?

Plasma cutter works by sending an electric arc via a gas that is passing through a narrow and constricted opening.

The gas can be any – ranging from nitrogen, oxygen, argon, shop-air etc. The arc sharply raises the temperature of the gas to a point where it gets converted to the fourth state of matter, known as plasma.

The opening is deliberately kept narrow and restricted, to keep the speed of passing gas high and to make it easy to cut through metal.

The gas is also focused around the border of the cutting area to shield the cut.

Automated plasma cutting is a popular technique adopted in many industries where metal objects are manufactured.

Clean automated cutting can only be achieved by a plasma cutter that not only prevents wastage of scrap metal, but also helps create designs which are otherwise tough and time-consuming to create on a metal surface.

Hence, plasma cutting is a great method of accurately cutting metal sheets of many thicknesses and is more robust than almost any other metal cutting process.

If you have any other questions or worries please contact us, or if you have any comments or improvements please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.