Plasma cutters can handle steel and other metals, but the right accessories not only make your task of cutting thick materials easier, but also keep you safe.
The range of cutter accessories is wide, and includes electrodes, consumables, hoses, plasma torches, shield cups, cutting guides, cutting tables, air dryers, and welding protective gear. You can read more detailed descriptions on websites such as Cuts Like Butter.
Electrodes and consumables
The electrical spark of the electrodes helps turn gas into plasma, which makes them vital for the proper functioning of the cutter. Consumables are made up of the attachment that directs the plasma flow, and the housing that contains the electrodes. Both electrodes and consumables need to be replaced from time to time.
The cutter and the torch are connected via the hose. In case you need them, longer hoses are available separately.
Plasma torch and shield cup
At the end of the plasma cutter there comes the torch, and it can have a shield cup attached to its handle. While the torch controls the plasma cutting, the shield cup controls its intensity and cutting force.
Plasma cutting guides and tables
You will need the guides to make sure your cuts are straight, whereas the table comes in handy when the object to be cut is too large to move.
An air dryer prevents moisture from building up around the cut area as it cools.
As with any type of welding, using a plasma cutter also requires proper protective gear. This usually focuses on eye, face, hands, and upper body area, and is made up of heavy gloves, long-sleeve jackets, and welding aprons, usually leather. Protective clothing must have a high heat rating to use as protection against the high temperatures released by the plasma cutter.
Also wear protective goggles or face masks with UV-filtering plates as protection against the ultraviolet light which can otherwise burn your cornea.
Other people who may be nearby also need protection against harmful UV radiation. That is why you should put up translucent welding curtains in the room where you intend to use your plasma cutter. These curtains are often made from PVC plastic film which helps filter the UV light.
Finally, plasma cutting may result in the release of harmful fumes (such as chromium and nickel from stainless steel), and you need to protect yourself against inhaling these. Use proper ventilation and smoke extractors.