CNC plasma cutter safety tips
CNC plasmas are extremely powerful machines, and as such require safe operation in order to protect yourself and to preserve the condition of the machine. And it is ultimately up to you – the operator – to ensure a safe working environment before beginning a project.
Here are some safety tips and precautions to make sure you practice before firing up your CNC plasma cutting table.
Note: The best way to ensure consistent safety practices is to follow these guidelines every time you operate the machine – no exceptions.
Arc ray protection
Plasma cutters produce arc rays that are extremely hot and bright, producing infrared and ultraviolet rays that are extremely damaging to unprotected eyes and skin.
Before operating a CNC plasma, you should make sure you are wearing clothing that protects your skin as well as face protection that shields your entire face and eyes. You should also make sure your eye protection is fitted with the proper shade of lenses.
Other protective gear
In addition to powerful arc rays, plasma cutters also emit fumes, sparks, and hot metal that can be damaging to the skin. You should employ some personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to operation to protect against these threats.
This includes wearing flame-resistant clothing made of leather or heavy denim, as well as a protective shield or other form of full head covering. You should also wear close-toed shoes (ideally leathers shoes or boots), and eye protection.
Another factor novice operators can often neglect is buttoning up your clothes – that means any cuffs, pockets, or collars. The presence of any stray fibers simply increases the threat posed by flying sparks. And if your machine is producing an excess of flying sparks, you may want to consider slowing down its cutting speed.
CNC plasma tables generate extreme amounts of electrical output, and can thus be dangerous if misused. You should ensure your plasma cutter is grounded and wired properly and that the ground cable is functional.
It’s also important to ensure the workspace is free of any wetness or moisture – including on your body.
Because of the hazardous fumes previously mentioned, it’s also critical to ensure your work area is well ventilated. If you’re working with a coated metal, you should remove the coating with a grinder before cutting if you can, as it will release toxic fumes when cut with plasma.
You should always be aware of any gases produced by the materials you are cutting, as well as how you intend to handle those gases with regard to safety concerns. With aluminum, for example, you will want to take into consideration hydrogen gas bubbles that can become trapped in water when cutting with a CNC plasma water table.
Give the table some space
Plasma gets extremely hot, so you should keep plenty of space – about 25 feet – between the cutting table and everything else in the shop to reduce the risk of fire.
General safety tips
In general, you should never allow anyone to use the machine who isn’t authorized to do so. It’s also key to keep a functioning fire extinguisher on hand at all times to be ready for the unexpected.
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