Plasma use on the farm

By Hypertherm
Posted on 07/20/2017 in SPARK the blog, Plasma cutting

Perhaps more so than other occupations, famers understand the threat of the unexpected. They know they should never take the good times for granted as it only takes one cruel twist from mother nature to destroy a season’s worth of work.

But amid this uncertainty, there is one constant: the need to produce as much as they can in good times as a cushion for the bad times. Whether it means getting more yield from an acre of land, feeding more stock without hiring more hands, or simply getting more done before nightfall, productivity matters. Technology has played an important role in recent agricultural productivity gains. New products–some revolutionary–have been readily adopted by farmers around the globe.

To deliver these advances, companies that supply farmers are investing heavily in research and development. Like John Deere, Case New Holland, Massey Ferguson and others, plasma system manufacturers are also continuing to invest in developing new technologies to help farmers cut and gouge metal more productively.


 

Whether they know it or not, most farmers already use products that were manufactured with plasma. Chances are good that their tractors, combines, storage tanks and other fabricated metal products, from fences and spreaders to balers and plows, were manufactured with the help of plasma. Farmers themselves can also reap productivity benefits by using plasma tools. Some of today's advanced plasma tools are highly portable, very powerful and exceptionally versatile machines–characteristics which make them perfect on the farm. These attributes also give today's plasma systems significant advantages over oxy-acetylene cutting and older plasma models.

ANY METAL, ANY PLACE

One of the most appealing characteristics of today's plasma is its versatility. Plasma's ability to cut different metal types, including mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum and more, is one of the technology's key advantages. Also important is the fact that plasma can cut through dirty, painted and even rusted metals without any pre-work. These capabilities provide a significant advantage over oxyfuel, which is ineffective on materials other than mild steel and performs poorly on dirty, painted or oxidized materials. Another advantage: no preheating. Plasma provides the power to cut and pierce with no preheating of the metal for a significant time savings. Plasma also cuts metal grate, a common material used around the farm, far faster and easier than other cutting tools.

Today’s plasma systems also give farmers versatility when it comes to cutting location. Instead of bringing the job to the plasma, you can take plasma to the job! There are two things that make this possible: a decrease in the size and weight of plasma systems and an increase in power options. It is now possible to buy a plasma system weighing about 20 pounds. Other improvements that further improve portability are the introduction of single-handle designs and shoulder straps. As for power, you have more choices than ever – regular 110 household power, more robust industrial power options, or power from a generator.

ONE SOURCE, MANY APPLICATIONS

The ability to use plasma on any metal in any place is something that has not gone unnoticed by farmers. They commonly use plasma to cut off corroded, worn or damaged metal on bailers, harvesters, spreaders and other pieces of equipment or to repair corrals, gates and fences. Silo repair, including of glass-lined silo panels, is another good application for a plasma cutter. While an oxyfuel flame creates a mess of glass and metal, a plasma system cuts cleanly through, with no mess and good speed.

An overlooked capability of plasma is its ability to gouge. It is an effective substitute for carbon arc and oxyfuel gouging in many applications. Plasma gouging is a good solution for a variety of equipment repair and maintenance jobs, where existing welds or rivet heads need to be removed. Plasma is also capable when it comes to back-gouging applications for weld preparation–great for the many custom fabrication jobs that a farm requires.

A subset of farmers may also appreciate the ability to cut metal using automated tools. Again, today's plasma delivers. Whether mounted on a small X-Y cutting table for cutting parts or ornamental designs, used on a track burner, or in conjunction with a pipe cutting tool, the ability to perform a wide variety of jobs makes plasma valuable.

Whether raising poultry or cattle, growing wheat or soybeans, corn or sugarcane, one thing farmers have in common is their drive for greater productivity. With the latest generation of portable, powerful, versatile plasma systems, farmers can get more of their cutting and gouging work done, in less time, at lower cost than ever before–making plasma a true productivity tool no matter what you farm.