We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a CNC Plasma Cutting System?

By R.Chin
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A computer numerical control (CNC) plasma cutting system uses gases that have been superheated into plasma to cut patterns. These systems are made up of a plasma cutting tool, some form of manipulator for the tool, a base table and a computer interface that controls the cutting. They are used in both small- and large-scale manufacturing of parts from materials, such as sheet metal, that involve two-dimensional cutting.

Plasma cutting has its origin in World War II-era welding, and later, the plasma torch. In order to use this technology to cut rather than to simply melt, gas is superheated into plasma, which is a state of matter. This plasma is sent through a very small opening at high speed. When it comes into contact with the material to be cut, the plasma first melts it, then blasts through the melted material, puncturing it and beginning the cutting process. The piercing might be almost instantaneous or take up to two seconds, depending on the thickness of the material.

A typical CNC plasma cutting system has a plasma cutter head mounted on a sliding shaft so that it can move in both the X and Y directions. This assembly is fixed to a bed where the materials to be cut are held in place. Beds for a CNC plasma cutting system generally use either water or a downdraft to cool the plasma after it emerges from the other side of the material. This keeps the assembly from getting too hot.

The term "computer numerical control" refers to how the cutting head is guided: the CNC plasma cutting system takes a computer-generated design and translates it into the specific X and Y motions needed to cut that design into the material. Thus, unlike manual plasma cutting, a CNC plasma cutting system requires a computer interface to issue the cutting commands. Use of computer numerical control allows designs to be cut quickly and automatically from a single pattern.

Plasma cutting is usually used only for two-dimensional manufacture, because of the nature of the cutting system. It is frequently used in steel cutting and working with other materials that might be very fragile or difficult to cut. The computer control also allows for intricate designs and tight corners, because the plasma column’s shape gives it a very small turning radius. This customizable control makes it useful for shops that regularly do precision machining.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.