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NCM suggests developing a "preflight routine" for using your plasma cutter, starting from the back and working forward.

1. Check the power cord to make sure it′s in good condition and that it is plugged into the correct type of primary power supply. Some units, such as those using Auto-line(tm) technology, allow you to plug them into any power supply from 208 to 575 volts. Other units require a specific voltage and it′s up to the user to make sure they are plugged into the correct power supply and any power selection switches are correctly set.

2. Check your air supply to make sure you have the correct air flow and pressure entering the machine. Your owner′s manual should contain the air requirements.

3. Dry air is important for plasma cutting and maximizes cutting capacity. NCM recommends installing an air filter and/or dryer on the machine, if it does not come equipped with one. Check, clean and replace the filter and or dryer in accordance with the manufacturer′s recommendations. It′s important, NCM says, to have some type of sealant on the connection to decrease the risk of an air pressure leak.

4. Connect the torch, if it′s not already connected.

5. Make sure all of your consumables are in place and correct for the job and that they are snug and secure. NCM receives many calls from people who over tighten the cup and experience intermittent cutting as a result.

6. If applicable, select the proper process. On some higher output machines, a switch allows the user to choose between cutting and gouging.

7. Turn the machine on.

8. Check the air setting. The PSI setting may have different settings for cutting and gouging. On some plasma cutters, the operator turns the amperage down to zero, which turns on the air flow and allows the operator to set the correct pressure.

9. Set the output to the correct setting. A cutting speed chart showing the rated cutting speed for the power source for mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel of various thicknesses.

10. Check the ground connection to the work piece. Although plasma can cut through painted metal, it does require a solid connection on a clean part of the workpiece as close as practical to the work area.

11. Make sure you have all of your safety gear in place. Your owner′s manual will have more details, but generally you want the same type of protective gear as when welding. If the table is wet and you lay your bare arm on it, you can become part of the circuit and receive a shock, so make sure you are wearing welding leathers, along with proper gloves and eye protection. Usually a 5 shade is the minimum eye protection with other shades required depending on amperage. A face shield is also recommended.

12. Make a sample cut on the same type of material as your workpiece to check your settings and travel speed.

13. It is difficult to cleanly stop and continue a long cut. Rehearse the cut beforehand to make sure you have adequate freedom of movement to make one continuous cut.
 
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