A plasma cutter is one of those advancements in cutting technology that revolutionizes the industry. Rather than having to use the bulky oxy-acetylene torches to cut through metal, the plasma arc cutter can now take its place. With this one tool you are able to do the same jobs as saws, cut-off wheels, shears and metal snips. Using a plasma cutter is a relatively easy process. However, there is one important aspect that can not be forgotten is to ground the material you are cutting. Since the cutting process is based on an electrical charge that melts the surface of the metal, a ground clamp is necessary for protecting the user and the plasma cutter unit. If you are going to be using a plasma cutter in your own metal shop, here is how you should ground it properly.
Step 1 - Make Sure Area is Clean
Before you set up your plasma cutter to start cutting through pieces of metal you will need to make sure that the environment is as clean as possible. Any metal shavings, dust, and grinding debris that is around the unit can be sucked into the fan system. While some plasma cutters are equipped Wind Tunnel Technology, that is the cool air flows through the system without entering into the electrical system, some models are not. If any of the debris is sucked into the electrical components it can cause serious damage to the unit.
Step 2 - Set up Stable Work Surface
Working with a plasma cutter can be dangerous if you are working on a surface that is not stable. Make sure that you have set up strong stands to cut on. This will enable you to cut without steadying the work piece. Use metal clamps to hold the piece down and secure.
Step 3 - Place Unit Close to Work Area
Another safety issue is having the plasma cutter wire draped across the floor. Try to have the body of the unit as close to the cutting area as possible. By doing this you will have greater control over your environment and not have a cord pulling at your cutter.
Step 4 - Use Ground Clamp
The ground clamp is a part of the electrical unit of the plasma cutter. Without using this clamp you will have a lot of problems with the cutting, and shorting out the system. The clamp must be placed on the actual work piece itself. If the piece is too small, then a piece of metal that is close by will also work.
Step 5 - Set Close to Work Area
When using the ground clamp it is important to place it as close to the actual cutting area as you can. This will help minimize the electrical charge from being passed through the metal piece.
Step 6 - Check for Loose Connections
As you are working with the plasma cutter, you should continually check the ground clamp for a good solid connection. If the wire becomes loose, there is a great potential for injury or damage to the unit itself.