How to Set up a Plasma Cutter – Expert Guide


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Anyone who has used a plasma cutter knows that you can’t just plug it in and start using it. There are some certain steps you need to follow to set it up before use.

The setup instructions can be a handful, but we are here to simplify and deliver it to you in a very simple manner.

And the first thing you should know is that always try to go by the instruction manual that comes with your device.

Here is an in-depth guide on how to set up a plasma cutter to get those precision cuts going.

What Is a Plasma Cutter?

What Is a Plasma Cutter

Simply put, it’s a device that jets out streams of plasma onto a circuited solid surface. This solid surface is mostly a conductive metal.

So what exactly happens when the plasma hits the surface? You guessed it right. The electrically charged and ionized gases cause fine cuts on the surface.

These cuts are extremely precise and easily controllable, and that makes it very convenient. Some common places where you might come across one are-

  1. Fabrication workshops
  2. Repair garages
  3. Scrapping projects
  4. And most importantly in most manufacturing industries

Why Do We Need One?

To understand why you might need a plasma cutter, you have to understand what it’s used for. There’s only one right use, and that is precision cuts.

The plasma cutter releases a highly ionized gas onto the surface that’s being cut. This gas creates a functional circuit with the surface.

The stream of compressed gas that hits the workpiece is a conductive part of the circuit. When electricity passes through that plasma, it melts the part of the metal in contact.

This is what gives you your desired cuts. What makes it even exciting is its ease of use and low cost.

How to Set up before Usage

First things first, we cannot stress enough on the credibility of the instruction manual that comes with the plasma cutter. You must go through it at least once since every cutter has something unique in its design.

Luckily all plasma cutting machines follow a similar structural pattern, even the best plasma cutter under $500. Therefore they have common steps of setup.

We decided to elaborate on those for you so that you have a better understanding of how to make the best out of it.

Required Equipment

• External air compressor
• A workbench/workstation
• Ground clamp
• All hoses compatible with the machine
• Magnetic guide
• Circle kit
• Cooling fan
• And lastly the machine itself

Steps to Follow

Here are the steps you need to follow.

Set Your Station

You can’t just start cutting with high powered plasmas anywhere you want. The first step is to set up a proper workstation.

And the most optimum place to do so is on a bench-like structure. When you have your work station set, make sure that it allows free movement.

Inspect Your Torch and Connect to the Power

Check your torch and ensure that it’s perpendicular to the cutting table. This will provide you with the cleanest cuts of the least deviation. If you want to ensure the quality of your product, then this will be crucial to your success.

Make sure the power unit of your cutter is switched off. Then plug it into the power source. After the torch has been properly mounted, set up the cooling fan so that the metal can be cooled down as soon as you conduct your cut.

Connect the Air Compressor

Now connect the external air compressor to the unit. In order to do that, you will have to join the fittings of the female and male connection (positive and negative ends). Don’t forget to ensure that the flanges are attached perfectly.

Turn the lever on the air-junction 90 degrees from its initial position to open the airflow. In other words, straighten it from its perpendicular position.

Attach the Ground Clamp

Now carefully set your workpiece on the table and ensure that it’s locked into place. Then attach the ground clamp with your workpiece.

This ground clamp fits perfectly into the picture and brings completion to the circuit.

Set the Right Amperage

Simply turn on the machine and set the current according to the material you are cutting. The average current required for cutting a 20 mm sheet is around 25 ampere, so adjust your amperage accordingly.

Adjust Nozzle Height

Adjust the height of your nozzle as it can make a huge difference in how your cuts might look by the time you’re done. In other words, if the height is more or less than ideal, then you will never get the clean cuts.

Finally, Do Some Trials before Using the Cutter on Your Project

Do some trial cuts on a sample sheet to see whether you’re on the right electricity flow and nozzle height or not. The plasma cutter gun has a trigger on it.

Press the trigger, and you will have yourself an operational cutting machine. Remember that there’s sometimes a safety catch on the switch that you might need to remove.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go for the Curves!

Sometimes you might want to go for the curved cuts. This is where a magnetic guide comes in. The magnetic guide helps you to make symmetrical curves according to your needs. You may use the circle kit to cut perfect circles onto your sheet as well.

Maintain Safety Precautions

Lastly, make sure to disconnect airflow and power before leaving your workstation. Use the cutter carefully to avoid fatal injuries.

For best results, install a height controller for your torch and grease the surface for mobility. Always make sure to put on gloves and safety goggles.

Nail Those Precision Cuts Today!

You don’t have to worry anymore about the complexities of setting up a plasma cutter. If you’ve read through our walkthrough, then you already know that the setup isn’t as intimidating as it sounds.

Follow the steps carefully and get the cuts going in no time!


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