How Do Plasma Cutters Actually Work?
The unique properties of plasma that is present in the plasma cutter is the one responsible for making such object pass through ferrous materials such as metals and steels.
Let us first define plasma before we continue discussing about plasma cutters and how it works. Plasma, defined by wikipedia, is one of the four fundamental states of matter (other being the solid, liquid and gas) and is also known as an ionized gas which consists of positive ions and free electrons in proportions that results in more or less no overall electric charge, typically at low pressures (can be observed in the upper atmosphere and with fluorescent lamps) or at very high temperatures (like the stars and nuclear fusion reactors). Perhaps, many of us learned from our younger years that matter only consist of three states which are the solid, liquid and gas however, the matter of the fact is that there are actually four of them and the fourth one is plasma. Once again, if we are to define plasma, it is an ionized gas that is responsible for supplying sufficient amount of energy to free electrons that comes from atoms or molecules and, plasma is also the one who allows both ions and electrons to coexist. You can actually get a plasma by boosting a gas to an extremely high temperature. If the has is being boosted into an extremely high temperature, it will cause the energy to break the gas molecules apart and also, the atoms will start splitting. With this, the fast moving electrons will also collide with the other electrons and ions which will lead to the release of an enormous amount of energy. The reason behind why plasma has an incredible cutting power is due to the enormous amount energy released from the collision.
The plasma cutter actually works by sending a pressurized gas through the small channel in the cutting nozzle. You can find in the middle of the channel a negatively charged electrode. Once you apply any power to the negatively charged electrode, and you touched the tip of the nozzle to a positively charged metal, what will happen is that a connection will be made and it creates a circuit and a very powerful spark as well. The gas will continue to pass through the channels and the gas that has been passing through will be heated by the spark until it become plasma, the fourth state of matter. What makes plasma more incredible is that when it reach thirty thousand degree Fahrenheit, it is capable of cutting through almost anything.
Other than the things being stated previously, another way that plasma cutter can work is by creating a high velocity plasma flow coming the negatively charged electrode and the positively charged one.