How Hot is a Plasma Cutter? Everything You Need to Know
If you plan to cut metal using heat, a plasma machine is always the best option. While many users know that plasma cutters get pretty hot, many do not understand how hot they can get. As a welder or any other plasma cutter user, it a great idea to know exactly how hot your machine can get, as this helps you determine what it can and cannot cut.
How Hot is a Plasma Cutter?
Like all other tools, plasma cutters differ from one model to the other. Therefore, it should be obvious that things like the cutting capacity and the actual temperature of a plasma cutter vary from one model to the other.
However, with most of these machines, it is possible to get a flame that is up to an incredible 25,000 degrees Celsius/45,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At such extreme temperatures, a plasma cutter can cut through almost any material with astonishing ease.
A standard oxyacetylene flame which is the most popular option for welders, gets to about 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning a plasma cutter is up to 5 times hotter than this. Besides being super-hot, the flame on a plasma cutter is also super bright, and hence you should never look at it directly as this can result in permanent eye damage.
Another vital thing to remember when handling a tool with the potential to reach extraordinary temperatures like this one is that you should never place the torch on any surface. Instead, always hang it on a floating box where it will not come into contact with anything you do not want to cut.
Is a Plasma Cutter Hotter Than the Sun?
Given how hot a plasma cutter can get, one cannot help but wonder if it is hotter than the sun, as many people tend to assume. The simple answer is that the flame on a plasma cutter can get hotter than the sun.
However, things are not that straightforward because whether the cutter is hotter than the sun or not depends on which part of the sun you are using for the comparison.
When comparing it with the surface of the sun, the plasma cutter can be at least 4.5 times hotter, given that the temperature for the sun's surface averages around 5,505 degrees Celsius/9,941 degrees Fahrenheit.
But, as you get towards the center of the sun, the temperatures rise to an incredible 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is by far much hotter than any plasma cutter in existence can get.
Is a Plasma Cutter Hotter than the Earth's Core?
The earth's core is the hottest part of our planet, and it should not be surprising that many plasma cutter users tend to get curious about whether it is hotter than their tools. But, as hot as the earth's core can get, a plasma cutter still gets much hotter.
The temperature on the earth's core is about 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit or 6,000 degrees Celsius. Given that a plasma cutter can get up to 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it is clear it can be at least 4 times much hotter than the earth's core.
How Can I Modify the Heat of the Plasma?
As plasma cutters can attain some incredible temperatures, many potential users assume they are hazardous tools and hence don't even give them a try. However, the good news is that you can still modify the heat on a plasma cutter to keep it within safer and easier to manage levels.
Despite the high temperatures these cutters reach, you will hardly ever have to deal with a material requiring you to crank it up to its maximum potential. Most models include controls on the outside of the tool that you can use to select the cutting temperature you want.
Remember, you can cut most metals using other methods such as an oxyacetylene torch. Hence, if you find the plasma cutter's high temperatures unbearable, you can avoid its use. The plasma cutters are specialty tools best left to experienced users and professionals.
Safety Tips to Use Plasma Cutter
- Work in a Well-Ventilated Space: Plasma cutters typically generate different gases when cutting. It is essential to always use it in a space where the gases can easily escape before they build up to unsafe levels.
- Keep the Plasma Cutter Well-Maintained: Like any other tool, maintenance is essential for safety when using plasma cutters. Things like faulty generators can be catastrophic, so you should regularly maintain the device to keep them in good working condition.
- Wear Protective Clothing: Protective clothing like non-flammable and heat-resistant jackets, welding boots, full head helmets, and gloves are vital for preventing injuries when using these tools.
- Get Special Protection for Your Eyes: Given how bright the flame from these tools can get, you need to have special eye protection to prevent permanent problems. Here special plasma cutter goggles designed to protect from infrared and UV rays are handy.
- Never Keep Lighters/Matches in Your Pocket: When operating a plasma cutter, it is vital to ensure you never keep things like matches and lighters in your pocket as they can get too hot, which causes them to explode or even catch fire.
The plasma cutter provides one of the hottest flames you can get from any tool. These tools reach temperatures higher than the sun's surface or the earth's core. The good news is that they still allow you to control the temperature and keep it as low as you want for safer operation. However, these are still quite dangerous tools that require a lot of precaution when in use, and they are best suited for experienced and professional users.
- Cutting Processes - Plasma ARC Cutting - Process and Equipment Considerations - TWI Global
- Heat Transfer in Plasma Arc Cutting - ResearchGate