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Thread: Use TIG machine as plasma cutter?

  1. #1
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    Use TIG machine as plasma cutter?

    So... I have a TIG and would love to have a plasma cutter as well. I see online that several manufacturers sell combo TIG/plasma machines. Anyone ever rigged a TIG to use as a plasma cutter?

    James

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    Gold Member mxtras's Avatar
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    I have not, but I see no reason why it could not be done.

    Scott

    Consistency is a good thing....unless you're consistently an idiot.


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    I did a little more research into this. It looks like the main difference between TIG and plasma from the power supply end is that a TIG arc runs at around 15-25V (at 100-300 amps) during welding. Plasma cutting on the other hand runs around 90-120V at 15-30 amps during cutting. The wattage is around the same, but the voltage in plasma cutting is much higher.
    Most welders limit their output voltage to ~80V for safety reasons (ie not electrocuting people). In a plasma cutter on the other hand the electrode is within the torch and can't really be touched easily (and there are safety interlocks to make sure you can't take the cap off and run the machine).

    Does this sound logical? So it seems like to use a TIG as a decent plasma cutter you'd need to disable or raise the voltage limit during plasma cutting... and make VERY sure you put it back on before TIG'ing.


    James



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    Gold Member mxtras's Avatar
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    That makes good sense. I have never operated a plasma cutter - just a TIG.

    That's good info.

    Post more if you discover anything else.

    Scott

    Consistency is a good thing....unless you're consistently an idiot.


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    I dont see why you couldnt if you could adapt the electrodes or a whole plasma cutting gun.

    I suspect they use higher voltage lower amperage in plasma cutters because of cheaper semi-conductors/transformers/wiring with less current. Definitely sounds worth a shot.



  6. #6
    Two different processes, two different requirements. It would would be easier to rig a plasma cutter as a TIG than vice versa. The plasma cuts above the metal (not touching) and the added voltage is needed to build the arc. Hypertherms cut at about 140VDC and TD's at 155 to 160. Reduce the voltage and you reduce the gap. I don't think you will have much success. If the unit is billed as a dual purpose it has to have a way to switch to a higher voltage in the inverter. That would be easier in the design stage since critical componets would have to be able to withstand the higher voltages.

    The higher voltage being used is not because of cheaper components. Often in semiconductors higher voltage componets cost more than lower voltage high current ones. Most of the modern plasma's use IGBT's in the output and anything over 100VDC really start to increase the price.

    TOM CAUDLE
    www.CandCNC.com



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    Your cut would be more like a carbon-gouge, and whats even more exciting is that a plasma cutter is not really the same knid of arc. I wish I could find exact detail right now....



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