How can you get more life out of your plasma consumables

September 27, 2019

Business finances running tighter than you’d like? Don’t have enough cash flow to invest all you want in a new project that could really grow your company?

Good companies watch their budget. Great companies analyze every detail and see how it impacts the bottom line.

In his famed book, From Good to Great, which studied why some companies became market leaders and others faded into obscurity, Jim Collins and his research team referred to this as “rinsing your cottage cheese.” When Dave Scott won six Ironman triathlons, he would rinse his cottage cheese to get rid of the excess fat.

It’s not clear whether this specific tactic actually helped him win or not. However, it demonstrates his commitment to watching every little detail so he could gain an edge and be the best. If you don’t get the life you want out of your plasma consumables you want now, here’s what you can do to make that happen going forward:

Change your consumables when they’re used, and not at a set time

Many companies simply change their consumables during a shift change or after a set number of piercings. Big mistake.

You need to know when your consumables are actually worn. For example, all-copper electrodes should be replaced when the hafnium pit depth reaches .040”. Establish these standards so your employees know exactly what to do.

Keep your pierce height in the correct range

Your pierce height should be 1.5 to 2.0 times the correct torch-to-work distance. It’s critical to consumable life, so make sure it remains in this range.

Keep your torch over the material as the cut ends

This doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. If your plasma arc terminates abruptly because it runs off the plate, however, this costs you hafnium.

How much? Usually about 10 – 15 arc starts’ worth.

Make sure you have adequate coolant flow

When your consumable doesn’t have the cooling it needs, this leads to excess and unnecessary heat buildup. In turn, this erodes your consumables faster.

Check your electrical connection

Poor electrical connections delay arc transfers. The typical arc transfer happens in 100 ms on a good connection. When you don’t have a good connection, this can delay the arc transfer to 500 ms or more. That leads to misfiring and excessive consumable wear.

None of these are overly huge or have a dramatic impact themselves. But when you add them altogether, they do have a big impact on your consumable life.

So make sure you have strict standards in place so you use consumables in the most efficient way possible. It allows you to be more competitive in your pricing, or even to increase your own margins. That makes your CNC business more secure in a competitive market.

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