To understand the dangers associated with plasma cutting arc, you should understand the basics of how the process works.
Here is a quick rundown for you:
The plasma cutter works by conveying an electric arc through the compressed air or compressed gases through a constricted opening of the nozzle on the cutting torch.
The compressed gas or air becomes ionized in the process and becomes conductive which causes it to heat up to the point of becoming the fourth state of matter or otherwise known as plasma.
A plasma cutter outputs a lot more voltage than a welder. Typically somewhere in the range of 100-400V. Due to the nature of the plasma arc, the voltage needed to start and maintain the pilot arc is really high.
Applying the arc to the metal will cut through it with ease. However, the plasma cutters can only work with conductive metals because the arc needs to jump from the electrode in the torch to the metal piece.
So as you see plasma cutting is dangerous because:
- The voltage is really high and the circuit needs to be closed. Machine – torch – metal – ground.
- The torch outputs a lot of heat and there are sparks and molten metal drops from metal cutting
- Metal being cut will output dangerous fumes
- Arc has an intense light that can lead to eye injury and permanent blindness if constantly exposed. In addition, the UV radiation is tremendous and you need the proper equipment to stay safe.