What is Plasma?

Plasma cutting grew out of plasma welding in the 1960s, and emerged as a very productive way to cut sheet metal and plate in the 1980s. If you super heat gas at a very high temperature, plasma is obtained. The energy begins to divide the gas molecules and atoms get split. Generally, atoms are comprised of protons and neutrons in the nucleus, surrounded by a cloud of electrons. In plasma, electrons get separated from the nucleus.  Once the electrons from the atom releases by the power of heat, the electrons start to move around quickly. These electrons are negatively charged, they go away at the back their positively charged nuclei.  These positively charged nuclei are known as ions.

The characteristics of plasma’s are significantly different from those of ordinary natural gases, so plasma is considered as the fourth states of matter first three are solid, liquid and gas. Seeing that plasma’s are made up of electronic charged particles, they are strongly influenced by electric and magnetic fields while neutral gases are not. Gases can become plasma’s in several ways, but all include pumping the gas with energy. A spark in a gas will create plasma. A hot gas passing through this spark will turn the gas into plasma that can be useful. When the rapidly moving electrons and ions commence crashing, the huge amount of energy gets released. This energy gives plasma a status and cutting power. In a high frequency plasma system there are no moving parts in the torch. The electrode is connected to the power sources negative output and the work connected to the positive. The electrode is the conductor from which the arc starts and travels to the work piece. Plasma is an effective means of cutting thin and thick materials alike. Since plasma cutters produce a very hot and much localized “cone” to cut with, they are extremely useful for cutting sheet metal in curved or angled shapes.


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