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15 Tips & Tricks To Improve

Plasma Productivity
1. Cut at a higher amperage if possible. Depending on your part geometry, you might be able
to get the same cut quality at a higher current setting, which will allow you to cut faster. ESABs m3
plasma systems offer many different current settings for each thickness, allowing you to optimize either
cut quality or speed, as required by your application. If you cut large parts which dont have intricate
contours, try using the highest cutting amperage possible for that material, to optimize for cut speed.
Some operators want to cut everything at the same settings just to minimize consumable changes. But
with ESABs PT-36 torch and SpeedLoader, nozzle changes are a snap.
2. Keep nozzles and electrodes clean. By quickly washing any dirt and grease from your hands
before installing new consumables, you can eliminate premature failure caused by contamination. Keep
your stock in a safe place, and leave torch parts in their original packaging until it is time to use them.
3. Dont run out of consumables. Be sure to keep sufcient inventory of consumables and spare
torch parts on hand. This can eliminate down-time due to a stock-out of critical parts. There is nothing
worse than a $100,000 cutting machine sitting idle because you ran out of $15 nozzles. Evaluate your
typical consumable usage, implement minimum stock levels and routine order quantities. Be sure to
keep accurate tabs on actual quantity on-hand.
4. Maintain your machine with regular preventive maintenance procedures. Its like a car, change the
oil and keep the front end aligned and it will last longer. Common mechanical problems are racks and
pinions, guide bearings, and linear rail lubrication. And keeping things clean also helps your machine
last longer. The grit and grime that accumulates on machines is not just dirt, its metal dust that tends to
contaminate moving parts, causing premature wear.
5. Use a SpeedLoader when changing nozzles to speed up consumable changes and reduce down
time. ESABs PT-36 torch lets you use a SpeedLoader xture to pre-assemble nozzle, diffuser, and
shield combinations, so they are ready for quick change-out when needed. And since the same
electrode is used for almost all Oxygen plasma cutting conditions, the electrode usually doesnt have to
change when switching from one nozzle to another. This means consumable changes can be made in a
matter of seconds.
6. Check your gas supply. Make sure your gas supply system is regularly checked for leaks, to
prevent gas losses and contamination, which can affect cut quality. A lot of problems with plasma
starting and consumable life can be traced back to contaminated gas supplies. This is also a common
reason for excessive dross on the bottom of the part. Do regular leak tests and make sure your entire
gas delivery system is well maintained.
7. Use the latest nozzle designs for best cut quality and speed. ESABs new XR Series nozzles
offer a wider range of dross-free performance and higher cutting speeds, which boosts your productivity.
Make sure you are using the latest technology to get the most performance out of your plasma system.
8. Check your torch coolant. Make sure your torch coolant is clean, and that you are using the
proper mixture. Using an incorrect torch coolant can cause short electrode life or algae growth,
leading to torch or coolant pump failure, and expensive down-time. ESAB offers two coolant mixes. A
Propylene Glycol mix offers maximum electrode cooling for extended life, with freeze protection down to
12 F. For customers needing additional freeze protection, an Ethylene Glycol mix is available.
GEN-26894 2012-03-06
411 S. Ebenezer Rd.
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Phone: 843-664-4394
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Phone: 81-8305-3700
15 Tips & Tricks To Improve Plasma Productivity - continued
Contact ESAB for an evaluation of your plasma cutting process and equipment productivity.
9. Use a modern touch-screen CNC with a built-in process database for faster, easier plasma setup,
and consistent, reliable cut quality from every shift, every operator. With older controls and plasma
systems, the operator must spend time looking up plasma cut settings in a book, and then manually set
the plasma controls, the cut speed, kerf, and timers. With modern integrated CNC and plasma systems,
all of that time is eliminated, and so are the errors associated with manual setups. Now the operator
simply chooses the material type, thickness, and cut quality, the control then automatically makes all of
the plasma settings. In fully automatic mode, the part program includes the plasma setup selection, so
the operator only has to make sure he runs the program on the correct plate.
10. Make sure you are using the correct cutting speeds. Even if using a built-in process
database for plasma setup, the operator could be turning the speed down using the feed rate override.
Sometimes this is done just to make things easier for the operator, but it can have a dramatic effect on
productivity over time. It can also have a negative effect on cut quality, inducing low speed dross on the
cut part edge.
11. Upgrade your programming software. Modern part programming & nesting software, like
ESABs Columbus software, can improve the efciency of your nest by eliminating unnecessary motion,
and using the most efcient tool codes. Dramatic improvements in cycle time can be achieved when the
part program uses the new codes to optimize process routines, such as skipping initial height sensing
where possible.
12. Upgrade to a modern height control system with high speed lifter, such as ESABs Smart
Voltage Height Control. A new lifter can improve cycle time dramatically by positioning at higher speeds,
and Smart Voltage Height Control can automatically compensate for electrode wear, making sure you
get the best cut quality over the life of the electrode, reduce torch crashes, and make sure you get the
full wear from every electrode.
13. Use Precision Hole Technology to produce the highest quality holes, eliminating secondary
operations. Cutting small holes with plasma can be very difcult. It takes good programming
techniques, special height control techniques, and careful timing of the plasma shut-down. But when
everything works together just right, plasma can produce amazingly round, cylindrical holes. Trying to
do this yourself is time consuming and difcult, and hard to replicate on every hole size and thickness.
Thats why Precision Hole Technology saves time and money, by automatically producing the best hole
quality without operator intervention.
14. Evaluate your material handling. Your overall cutting efciency might be entirely dependent on
how long it takes to load and unload your cutting tables. Design a good load/unload scheme, add crane
capacity, or rearrange material ow in your shop to make sure you are getting the most arc-on time from
your machine.
15. Have an outside resource evaluate your plasma cutting process, to make sure you are
not overlooking any performance or quality issues. Often a fresh set of eyes can spot an opportunity for
improvement that may have been overlooked. ESAB offers free annual plasma process evaluations to
customers participating in our Plasma Partnership Program.