I'm having cut quality issues.
The machine will just stop cutting properly. All the settings are the same, but changing consumables can cause it to go from cutting fine, to hardly cutting at all.
When it is working well, you can hear the cut quality. The air flow on the torch sounds nice and clean, and consistent, and has very little dross or top splatter. When it stops cutting well, the torch makes a louder air flow noise because less of the air is making it through the cut and instead is being blown out on the top side of the metal. The sound is also very rough and inconsistent. I say these things because I've watched it cut with a welding helmet on and the cut is v-shaped. Most of the metal isn't being removed. When it cuts well, the entire cut width is melted with a sharp vertical edge and the air blows right through it with very little, to no slag at all. When it isn't cutting right, some of the air blows back causing a lot of top splatter, an increase in heat across the metal, warping, and a ton of slag on the bottom of the cut. I'm guessing the dross on the bottom is because not all of the air is getting though the cut.
When it's cutting like this, increasing or decreasing the amperage doesn't fix it. Lowering the speed can help some, but it's still an awful cut with lots of slag. Increasing or decreasing the height doesn't seem to help. It's not like it's trying to cut a 1/4" off the metal.
Cutter is a Cutmaster A40. Cutting 16 gauge HR mild steel. Using a 60 amp tip. New consumables (electrode, tip and starter cartridge) . Cutting speed is 160ipm. Amps set to 40. THC target volts 107. psi is at least 80 to 85. air inlet at plasma cutter has a water separator in front of a motor guard filter. When the air is running through the torch head, I've put blank paper under it and it never produces any visible moisture. Now, in front of the water separator and filter, you get water in the air, but on the other side, I can't detect any.
I can't make any sense of it. It just doesn't seem like the plasma beam is getting all the way through the metal. At the setting listed above, sometimes it cuts just great. When it cuts like this, you can see the cut is rounded off on the top edges, it's V-shaped and has a lot of warp. The heat just doesn't seem like it's passing through a nice clean cut and being blown out the bottom.
What causes this? Why one set of consumables works fine (almost no slag at all) for 15, 20, maybe 30 parts, then a new tip and it all goes to crap. I can't get it to cut right again. Any helpful ideas welcome. Thanks.