Most of the plasma tables we sell come with a Hypertherm Powermax. Over the years I have learned a few ticks that helped my customers with their Hypertherms. Just to make sure we are on the same page, use this picture for reference of part names.
In mechanized plasma cutting, your electrode and swirl ring will stay the same on most applications. The retaining cap can have a clip coming off of it if your table uses Ohmic sensing. The nozzle is specific to the Amps you’re using and the shield can vary from standard 65 and 85 plasma cutting or Fine cut for fine, cut specific, plasma cutting.
Many people keep 4 sets, like you see above. One set for Finecut, One for 45 amp plasma cutting, one for 65 amp plasma cutting, and one for 85 amp plasma cutting. Most people switch out this entire package, I switch to a different amp class. Why? Having duplicates ensures you will always have parts should you ever need them. This method allows you to spread the work load across the packages instead of one retaining cap and swirl ring doing all the work. As a result, parts will last longer. When swapping out the package, it also allows you to inspect and clean the components. Keeping these components clean is important to achieve quality results.
I have seen postings on forums where the retaining cap becomes damaged from the arc punching through the side instead of going out the nozzle like it’s supposed to. Usually this is caused by dirty components. Cleaning and wiping them down on a regular basis will help prevent this.
Switching out consumables – Consumables are most commonly going to be your nozzle and electrode. I consider these a matched pair. When I change out one, then I change out the other. 100% necessary? No, but it has served me well. The more pierces you do, the faster your consumables will wear out. If you have dirty air, or if you’re not cutting and piercing at the correct torch height, you can damage your nozzles.
Take a look at your nozzle orifice and make sure its round. If there is a nick in it or its out of round, this will affect your cut quality. Electrode ware of 0.040 inches is about where you should switch them out. Failure to cut through the material, wider than normal kerfs, or arc start failures can be alerts that it’s time to switch out consumables. Going past this point can result in a loss of cut quality.
I never throw away any of my old consumables, unless there is obvious damage or failure. The old consumables that are not fit for the fine detail I want for mechanized plasma still work great for cutting off a bolt or chopping up a remnant piece of steel.
Check out our Basics of CNC Plasma Cutters page. It’s closely related to this one.
Hypertherm Articles – Here are some articles that address many of the common problems: