A plasma cutter is a tool that uses pressurized gas to cut through metal and other materials. For your plasma cutter to function at its peak performance, you need to choose the right type of gas. Choosing the wrong gas can lead to poor-quality cuts, clogged nozzles, and other problems, so it pays to do your research! This guide will provide an overview of the most common gases used in plasma cutting and how to make sure you’re using the right one for your needs.
Types of Gases Used in Plasma Cutting
The three most common gases used in plasma cutting are air, nitrogen, and argon/hydrogen mixtures. Each type of gas has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to consider which one will work best for your specific project.
Air is by far the most commonly used gas for plasma cutting because it is relatively inexpensive and readily available. It offers good performance on thinner materials (up to 3/8”) and can be used on a wide variety of metals with excellent results.
However, air does not provide sufficient power for thicker materials (over 3/8”) and can cause oxidation if used on steel or aluminum.
Nitrogen is a great choice when you need high power levels but don’t want to use a costly argon/hydrogen mixture. Nitrogen provides excellent performance on mild steel up to 1” thick but should not be used on aluminum due to oxidation concerns. Nitrogen also has slower cutting speeds than air or argon/hydrogen mixtures.
An argon/hydrogen mixture offers superior power levels compared to air or nitrogen and can be used on thicker materials (up to 2”). It produces very clean cuts with minimal oxidation but is more expensive than the other two options and requires special equipment for storage and delivery.
How To Choose The Right Gas For Your Project
The key factor in choosing the right gas for your project is material thickness. If you are working with thin materials (under 3/8”), then air will usually suffice; however, if you are working with thicker materials (over 3/8”), then an argon/hydrogen mixture may be necessary depending on what type of metal you are cutting.
If cost is a major concern, then nitrogen may be a good option as it provides enough power for mild steel up to 1″ thick without breaking the bank.
No matter what type of project you are tackling with your plasma cutter, choosing the right gas is essential for achieving high-quality results—and this guide should help get you started!
Remember that air works well on thinner materials (under 3/8″), nitrogen is great for mild steel up to 1″, while an argon/hydrogen mixture produces clean cuts that require less post-processing while also being able to handle thicker materials (up to 2″).
Taking these factors into consideration should make it easier for you to select the right gas each time so that your projects come out looking their best!