Plasma cutting consumables are essential for the quality and speed of any cutting system, being handheld or automated. Besides the original manufacturer, other companies also produce plasma consumables. They are known as generic plasma consumables.
Usually, any model of plasma cutting machine can last 8-10 years in the market, though that period of time can vary from one to the other. After some plasma equipment has been discontinued, the different manufacturers keep their consumables available in the market for a reasonable period. Generic plasma consumables are available for some more time.
Regardless of how new or old any equipment might be, using original plasma cutting consumables can extend the machine’s life and improve the quality. This article is meant to explain why. But let’s start with the basics.
What plasma cutting consumables are
Plasma cutting uses several consumable components that wear out over time and need to be replaced periodically. Here is an overview of the main consumables for plasma cutting:
Electrodes: Is the component that creates the arc and transfers the electrical energy to the plasma gas.
Nozzles: Is the component that focuses the plasma arc and controls the flow of the plasma gas. Nozzles can become damaged or clogged with debris, so they need to be replaced periodically.
Shield caps: Is the component that surrounds the nozzle and helps to protect it from damage.
Swirl rings: Is the component that helps to control the flow of plasma gas and create a vortex that improves cutting performance.
Retaining caps: Is the component that holds the electrode, nozzle, and shield cap in place.
Proper maintenance and replacement of consumables is important for achieving high-quality cuts and prolonging the life of your plasma cutting equipment. Now, let’s look at each one of these plasma cutting consumables in detail.
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Plasma cutting consumables: The electrode
Electrodes are a critical consumable of plasma cutting. They play an important role in creating and maintaining the plasma arc that melts and cuts through metal. Here are the main uses of electrodes in plasma cutting:
Creating the plasma arc: Is the component that creates the plasma arc by generating an electric current that ionizes the gas flowing through the torch. This ionized gas, or plasma, generates intense heat that melts and cuts through the metal being cut.
Transferring electrical energy: It serves as a conductor for the electrical energy that powers the plasma cutting process. The electrode is connected to the power source and transfers the electrical energy to the plasma gas.
Providing stability: It provides stability to the plasma arc and helps to maintain its shape and intensity. A worn or damaged electrode can cause the plasma arc to become unstable, resulting in poor cut quality.
Regulating the flow of plasma gas: It also helps to regulate the flow of plasma gas by creating a constriction that focuses on the plasma arc and improves cutting performance.
Plasma cutting consumables: The nozzle
Next, comes the nozzle. They play an important role in controlling the flow of plasma gas and focusing the arc for high-quality cutting. Here are the main uses of nozzles in plasma cutting:
Focusing the plasma arc: Is responsible for shaping and focusing the plasma arc to create a narrow, precise cutting stream.
Controlling the plasma gas flow: It helps to control the flow of plasma gas, which is critical for achieving high-quality cuts. By adjusting the gas flow rate and direction, the nozzle helps to maintain a stable, consistent plasma arc that cuts through metal cleanly and efficiently.
Protecting the torch and consumables: It also helps to protect the torch and consumable components from damage. By directing the plasma arc away from the torch and surrounding it with a protective gas flow, the nozzle helps to prevent overheating, erosion, and other forms of wear and tear.
Improving cut quality: It plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the cut. By creating a precise, focused plasma arc, the nozzle can produce clean, smooth cuts with minimal dross and distortion.
Plasma cutting consumables: The shield caps
Shield caps are key in protecting the torch and consumables from damage, improving cut quality, and prolonging the life of your plasma cutting equipment. Here are the main uses of shield caps in plasma cutting:
Protecting the torch and consumables: It helps to protect the torch and consumables from damage by directing the flow of plasma gas and shielding them from the intense heat of the plasma arc. By creating a barrier between the plasma arc and the torch, the shield cap helps to prevent damage from overheating, erosion, and other forms of wear and tear.
Improving cut quality: The shield cap plays a role in improving cut quality by controlling the flow of plasma gas and ensuring a precise, focused plasma arc. By creating a uniform gas flow around the plasma arc, the shield cap helps to reduce turbulence and improve the consistency of the cut.
Prolonging the life of consumables: It can help to prolong the life of consumable components by preventing them from coming into contact with the metal being cut. By shielding the consumables from molten metal and other debris, the shield cap helps to reduce wear and tear and increase their lifespan.
Enhancing safety: It can also enhance safety by reducing the risk of arc flash and other hazards associated with plasma cutting. By directing the flow of plasma gas and shielding the torch and consumables, it helps to prevent accidents and improve overall safety.
Plasma cutting consumables: The swirl rings
Swirl rings are needed to control the flow of plasma gas and improve the quality of the cut. Here are the main uses of swirl rings in plasma cutting:
Controlling the flow of plasma gas: It helps to control the flow of plasma gas, which is critical for achieving high-quality cuts. By creating a swirling motion in the gas flow, the swirl ring can help to stabilize the plasma arc and improve its cutting performance.
Reducing turbulence: The swirl ring can also help to reduce turbulence in the plasma gas flow. It helps to smooth out any irregularities and improve the consistency of the plasma arc.
Protecting the torch and consumables: It helps to protect the torch and consumable components from damage. By directing the flow of plasma gas and shielding them from the heat of the plasma arc, the swirl ring can help to prolong their lifespan and reduce the need for costly repairs.
Improving cut quality: It plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the cut. It can help to produce clean, smooth cuts with minimal dross and distortion.
Plasma cutting consumables: The retaining caps
Retaining caps are designed to secure the electrode and nozzle in place and to help maintain proper alignment during the cutting process. Here are the main uses of retaining caps in plasma cutting:
Securing the electrode and nozzle: They are designed to hold the electrode and nozzle in place during the cutting process. This helps to prevent them from shifting or moving, which could result in poor cut quality or damage to the torch.
Maintaining proper alignment: It helps to maintain proper alignment between the electrode and nozzle. By keeping the components in the correct position, the retaining cap can help to ensure that the plasma arc is focused and stable, resulting in a clean, precise cut.
Reducing downtime: By securely holding the electrode and nozzle in place, the retaining cap can help to prevent them from becoming damaged or misaligned during the cutting process. This can reduce the need for downtime and costly repairs, helping to keep your plasma cutting system up and running efficiently.
Improving cut quality: It can also play a role in improving cut quality. By maintaining proper alignment between the electrode and nozzle, the retaining cap can help to ensure a consistent, focused plasma arc that produces clean, precise cuts.
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The dark side of counterfeit plasma cutting consumables
Counterfeit products cause harm in every sense. In one hand, it is illegal. There are international laws protecting the licenses and patents owned by manufacturers. These final products are usually the reward for millions of dollars and years invested in research and development.
In the other harm, fake consumables can adversely affect the performance of cutting systems. This can directly impact the safety and profit in the companies using them.
Even when someone knowingly buys counterfeit products there are risks at hand. Safety is prone to fail, general performance is disrupted, and the life of the equipment can be reduced. It’s simply not worth buying fake plasma cutting consumables.
How to avoid counterfeit plasma cutting consumables
Even though now and then we can be misled to believe that some consumables are original when they are not, basically, there are a few key points to avoid buying fake products.
- Only buy products from approved and authorized dealers
- Be wary of finding “genuine” consumables and software at strangely low prices, especially when shopping online
- Carefully check the appearance and packaging of the consumables for any difference. While counterfeits are pretty good at mimicking the exact appearance of the original, sometimes mistakes do happen
- Another warning sign is poor or inconsistent consumable performance compared to what you are used to
If a store ever deceives you and sells you counterfeit consumables, stop buying there and report it to an authorized dealer, so that the manufacturer can take action against the counterfeiters.
The advantage of using original plasma cutting consumables
Using original plasma cutting consumables, as opposed to fake or counterfeit ones, offers several advantages. Here are five of the key advantages:
Consistency: Original plasma cutting consumables are designed and manufactured to exacting standards, ensuring consistent performance and cut quality. Counterfeit consumables do not meet these same standards, resulting in inconsistent performance and reduced cut quality.
Reliability: Original plasma cutting consumables are tested and validated by the manufacturer to ensure reliability and durability. Counterfeit consumables are made with lower-quality materials and may not have undergone the same rigorous testing, increasing the risk of premature failure or damage to the plasma cutting system.
Safety: Original plasma cutting consumables are designed and manufactured to meet safety standards and regulations. Counterfeit consumables do not meet these same standards, potentially putting operators and equipment at risk of injury or damage.
Warranty: Using original plasma cutting consumables can help to protect the warranty of the plasma cutting system. Most manufacturers require the use of original consumables to maintain the warranty coverage.
Longevity: Original plasma cutting consumables are designed to work in conjunction with the plasma cutting system, helping to extend the life of the system and reduce the need for costly repairs or replacements.
New SYNC plasma cutting consumables
In 2020 Hypertherm introduced its new product line named SYNC®. Powermax SYNC® is an entirely new air plasma platform. It is composed of three systems: Powermax65 SYNC®, Powermax85 SYNC®, and Powermax105 SYNC®.
With this new plasma product line, you now will use only one consumable, instead of five. These cartridges are color coded and easy to screw it onto your torch. The amperage and the right cutting or gouging mode will automatically be adjusted.
Some other advantages of these new one-piece consumables are the communication they can have with the power source. You will be able to know every single use of the cartridge and when it is worn out. The information gathered can exponentially improve the cutting operations.
Where to find original plasma cutting consumables
Every manufacturer publishes a list of the distributors by region. Some regions can be North and South America (NA/SA), Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe and Middle East (EMEA), etc.
Following that example, each distributor usually does the same, to inform the clients about authorized point of sales for the specific brand in each country and city.
So, if you are uncertain about where to buy original plasma cutting consumables, start by searching for distributors on the manufacturer’s website. There is usually a section named “where to buy” or something on the lines. Once you have located an authorized distributor, call them or visit their stores.
We have been Hypertherm distributors for decades. For sure we can supply you with anything related to Hypertherm, including plasma cutting consumables. Contact us, as soon as possible, to really help you save on your plasma cutting consumables purchases.