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Gases

Assist/Cutting Gases
Air

Plasma cutting is a melting process, compared to flame cutting which is a combustion process. A gas jet in the plasma melts and expels the material from the kerf. To initiate the process, and ionise the gas, a pilot arc must be generated. The pilot arc heats the plasma gas and ionises it. Since the electrical resistance of the main arc is lower than that of the pilot arc, the main arc ignites and the pilot arc automatically extinguishes. Air cutting was introduced in the early 1960s for improved cut quality on mild steel. Air was readily available, cheap, and worked well as a plasma gas, since it contained a mixture of roughly 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. The oxygen in the air provided additional energy through an exothermic reaction with molten steel. This additional energy increased cutting speeds by about 25% over plasma cutting with nitrogen. Although the process could be used to cut stainless steel and aluminum, the cut surface on these materials was heavily oxidized and unacceptable for many applications without secondary operations such as grinding.

Plasma cutting is a melting process, compared to flame cutting which is a combustion process. A gas jet in the plasma melts and expels the material from the kerf. To initiate the process, and ionise the gas, a pilot arc must be generated. The pilot arc heats the plasma gas and ionises it. Since the electrical resistance of the main arc is lower than that of the pilot arc, the main arc ignites and the pilot arc automatically extinguishes. Air cutting was introduced in the early 1960s for improved cut quality on mild steel. Air was readily available, cheap, and worked well as a plasma gas, since it contained a mixture of roughly 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. The oxygen in the air provided additional energy through an exothermic reaction with molten steel. This additional energy increased cutting speeds by about 25% over plasma cutting with nitrogen. Although the process could be used to cut stainless steel and aluminum, the cut surface on these materials was heavily oxidized and unacceptable for many applications without secondary operations such as grinding.

Cutting Gas Mixtures

Other gas combinations can be used in plasma arc cutting processes. Benefits vary depending on the material being cut and the plasma and shield gas being used.  Argon-Hydrogen mixtures to obtain better cut quality on thicker stainless steel.  Nitrogen/Argon-Hydrogen also give better metallurgical effects on thicker stainless steel.

Other gas combinations can be used in plasma arc cutting processes. Benefits vary depending on the material being cut and the plasma and shield gas being used.  Argon-Hydrogen mixtures to obtain better cut quality on thicker stainless steel.  Nitrogen/Argon-Hydrogen also give better metallurgical effects on thicker stainless steel.

Nitrogen

Plasma cutting with pure Nitrogen is a strictly “thermal” process usually used on non-ferrous materials. On carbon steel using nitrogen as the plasma gas more dross is prevalent and nitriding or hardening of the cut edge is common.

Plasma cutting with pure Nitrogen is a strictly “thermal” process usually used on non-ferrous materials. On carbon steel using nitrogen as the plasma gas more dross is prevalent and nitriding or hardening of the cut edge is common.

Oxygen

Plasma cutting with oxygen is used to obtain faster cutting speeds at lower power levels on carbon steel and give you improved metallurgical effects on cut edge compared to Nitrogen or pure Air.

Plasma cutting with oxygen is used to obtain faster cutting speeds at lower power levels on carbon steel and give you improved metallurgical effects on cut edge compared to Nitrogen or pure Air.

Services

Audit Services/Leak Detection

Our application engineers can work with your plant personnel to analyze and understand your entire process. Based on that analysis and your needs, they can recommend process improvement solutions that can help you enhance product quality and consistency, plus optimize gas use. Air Products services include leak-checking, furnace profiling, analytical calibration, gas analysis process troubleshooting and overall process review.

Our application engineers can work with your plant personnel to analyze and understand your entire process. Based on that analysis and your needs, they can recommend process improvement solutions that can help you enhance product quality and consistency, plus optimize gas use. Air Products services include leak-checking, furnace profiling, analytical calibration, gas analysis process troubleshooting and overall process review.

Training

Training can include gas atmosphere safety, properties of gases, metal treating applications, NFPA 86, piping and flow control panel requirements, and troubleshooting for atmosphere problems. This information can help keep your furnace operations safe and help prevent accidents.

Training can include gas atmosphere safety, properties of gases, metal treating applications, NFPA 86, piping and flow control panel requirements, and troubleshooting for atmosphere problems. This information can help keep your furnace operations safe and help prevent accidents.

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