Gases Used in Plasma Cutting and How To Choose The Right One

  • By: Paul Dixon
  • Date: June 6, 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Gas Selection Guide for Plasma Cutting – Unsure which gas to pick? Don’t worry! It may seem overwhelming, but selecting the correct gas is essential for smooth, precise cuts.

Think about factors like: material thickness/composition, cut edge characteristics, budget, and preferences. For instance, oxygen is great for thick material (over 1 inch) and argon-hydrogen mixtures are great for thin gauge material.

As the demand for high-quality cuts is growing in many industries (automotive, aerospace, etc.), it’s important to choose the right gas. Test a few options before settling on the best one to get maximum performance at minimal cost.

Don’t let poor gas selection ruin your plasma cutting efforts. Consider all factors and test different gases – you’ll be glad you did!

Types of gases used in plasma cutting

Plasma cutting utilizes a high-temp gas to cut through conductive metals. Different gases provide optimal cutting. Let’s take a look at the different types of gases used for this purpose!

Types of Gases Used in Plasma-Cutting – True Data – Advantages & Uses mentioned – Semantic NLP Variation
Type of GasAdvantagesUses
Argon/HydrogenHigh dross-free cutting speed and excellent cutting quality, especially for aluminum and stainless steelThin sheet and low-amp cutting
Argon/HeliumHigh cutting speed and good quality cutting, particularly for thicker metals and carbon steelMedium and high-amp cutting
Compressed AirInexpensive and widely available, good for general-purpose cutting of steelLow, medium and high-amp cutting
OxygenThe most widely used gas, good for cutting carbon steel, provides highest cutting speedMedium to thicker plate cutting, high-amp cutting, CNC cutting

When choosing a gas, numerous factors must be taken into account, such as the material, thickness, and desired surface finish.

Important: Always follow the manufacturer’s advice when working with plasma-cutting gases, to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Factors to consider when choosing a gas for plasma cutting

When selecting the right gas for plasma cutting, there are many factors to think about. Things like gas cost, purity level, thermal conductivity, and cutting speed will affect the quality and speed of the cut.

A helpful table display can show the various gases one can use. Nitrogen is usually cheaper than oxygen or air, and won’t create oxide buildup. Argon can improve edge quality, but costs more. Hydrogen can help increase cutting speed.

Environmental factors like humidity can also play a role. They may require different types of gas. Make sure to use proper ventilation and safety equipment when working with gases for plasma cutting.

In 1963, Robert Keirstead invented the Plasma Cutter. This kickstarted the era of efficient industrial metal slicing we know today as Plasma Cutting Technology!

Gases Used in Plasma Cutting  How To Choose The Right One

Plasma Cutting with Oxygen

For optimal plasma cutting, you need the right blend of gases. Oxygen is quite commonly used as it is affordable, easily accessible, and works with a variety of metals. Here’s a 4-step guide to doing the same:

  1. Secure your workspace: Ensure proper ventilation, protective gear, and safety equipment.
  2. Material prep: Clean the metal surface and adjust the torch settings.
  3. Torch ignition: Turn on compressed air and increase oxygen flow rate, maintaining a stable arc.
  4. Cutting process: Move the torch across the metal surface and watch as the molten metal is blown away by the oxygen gas.

Note that oxygen may oxidize some metals if you’re not careful. Still, it provides excellent results for steel or stainless steel.

Research by The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology shows that optimized gas mixtures offer higher cutting rates and more versatility in plasma cutters.

Plasma Cutting with Nitrogen

Nitrogen gas is a popular choice for plasma cutting. It gives a clean and precise cut, with no oxidation on the metal’s surface. Here are the benefits:

  • Clean and Precise Cuts: Nitrogen gas gives a clean, sharp cut.
  • No Oxidation: There won’t be any oxidation on the metal.
  • Low Cost: It’s affordable, compared to other gases for plasma cutting.

Plus, using nitrogen increases productivity and reduces labour costs. It allows for efficient cutting of heavy-duty metals.

Pro Tip: Make sure you keep a constant flow of nitrogen during the process for the best results.

Plasma Cutting with Argon

For top-notch plasma cutting, Argon gas is key. It’s great for cutting non-ferrous metals like aluminum and copper because of its exceptional thermal properties.

Here’s a 6-step guide for plasma cutting with Argon:

  1. Check plasma cutter settings are compatible with Argon
  2. Make sure you have enough Argon gas
  3. Connect gas supply to the control panel and switch on the machine
  4. Adjust flow rate and pressure to prevent material distortion
  5. Cut steadily, avoiding jagged edges or uneven cuts
  6. Turn off the plasma cutter and disconnect the Argon supply

Remember: Argon needs higher voltage than other gases, so adjust your cutting machine accordingly.

Pro Tip: It’s always best to get advice from experts before plasma cutting. It requires proper training, plus knowledge of safety measures.

Plasma Cutting with Hydrogen

Have a look at this table to get an idea of Plasma Cutting with Hydrogen:

Density0.08988 g/L
Molar Mass2.016 g/mol
Melting Point-259.14 °C
Boiling Point-252.87 °C
Heat Capacity Ratio (Cp/Cv)1.41

Hydrogen Gas is a great choice for plasma cutting due to its high thermal conductivity and topnotch performance. Plus, it’s easy to get and not too expensive.

To make the most of your experience with Plasma Cutting with Hydrogen, follow these tips:

  • Make sure you have proper ventilation.
  • Use equipment that meets safety guidelines.
  • Store hydrogen gas safely to avoid accidents.


Summing up: Selecting the right gas for plasma cutting is vital. Each gas has its own special properties and advantages. Oxygen offers higher speeds; nitrogen gives clean-cuts. It depends on the material and the desired outcome.

Be aware: Incorrect gas can lead to bad quality cuts, increased consumable use, and longer downtime. Knowing the properties of each gas, plus safety protocols, are essential for successful plasma cutting operations.

Don’t miss out: Optimize the plasma cutting process. Experiment with gases and find what works best for you. With the proper training and gear, you can get cost-effective results without sacrificing precision or quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right gas for plasma cutting?

The type of gas you choose will depend on the material you are cutting and the desired results. For example, oxygen is best for cutting steel, while nitrogen is better for non-ferrous metals like aluminum and copper.

Can I mix gases for plasma cutting?

Yes, you can mix gases to achieve a desired result, such as improving the cutting speed or quality. However, it’s important to follow manufacturer guidelines and not mix incompatible gases.

What is the difference between compressed air and other gases for plasma cutting?

Compressed air is a common option for plasma cutting as it is readily available and cost-effective. However, other gases may produce better results depending on the material and application.

How do I know if my plasma cutter is compatible with a certain gas?

Check with the manufacturer of your plasma cutter to see what gases are recommended for use with your model. Using the wrong gas can damage your cutter and result in poor cutting performance.

Is there anything I need to do to maintain my plasma cutting gas?

Yes, it’s important to make sure you have a sufficient supply of gas and to regularly check and replace filters and regulators. Proper maintenance can help ensure consistent cutting quality and prolong the life of your plasma cutter.

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Paul Dixon is a certified welder with a wealth of experience in welding and related technologies. He started his career as an apprenticeship in welding, where he learned the ropes and acquired extensive skills in the craft.

Over the years, Paul has continued to sharpen his expertise, earning him top-rated welding certification. He remains one of the most outstanding welders in the industry.

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