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How to Set Up a Plasma Cutter

Proper setup ensures a plasma cutter cuts cleanly through metal without causing damage to the equipment. An improperly set up plasma cutter will cause the consumable components held in the end of the plasma cutter to melt. This increases the cost of running the plasma cutter and reduces the quality of the cut through a piece of metal. A lower quality cut requires more time to remove dross and gouges.

Step 1

Connect the air line -- running from an air compressor -- to the air regulator located on the back of the plasma cutter.  Turn on the air compressor. Allow the compressor to build pressure. 

Step 2

Set a piece of scrap metal on a non-combustible work surface.  Place a fire extinguisher near your work area.

Step 3

Secure the plasma cutter's grounding lead to the scrap metal or to a metal work surface.  Turn on the plasma cutter. Turn the heat setting to its highest setting. 

Step 4

Squeeze the plasma gun trigger.  Pull the plasma gun across the surface of the metal. Slow down your pull speed if sparks blow toward you.  Allow the metal to cool.

Step 5

Flip over the metal and inspect the cut.  Turn down the heat setting of the plasma cutter if you notice excessive dross -- cooled melted metal -- hanging from the cut.

Step 6

Perform another test cut across the scrap metal.  Inspect the cut for dross. Continue adjusting the plasma cutter and inspecting the cut until little or no dross remains on the edges of the plasma cut. 

Things You Will Need

  • Air compressor with air line
  • Scrap sheet metal
  • Fire extinguisher