Today we’re talking about eye protection. We sometimes get asked what shade rating is needed when cutting with plasma. The answer: it depends.
The American National Standards Institute (known simply as ANSI by most people) ties the shade level to the amperage level of your system. If you’re using a lower amp system you can get away with using a lower shade level. Higher amp systems require a higher shade level.
Here are the minimum ANSI recommendations:
Less than 40 amps - shade 5
41 to 60 amps - shade 6
61 to 300 amps - shade 8
In reality, the plasma process is way easier on the eyes than welding. This is because when cutting metal, much of the plasma arc is either between the cutting kerf or underneath the plate being cut, partially shielding your eyes. Gouging with plasma is an exception to that.
Still, the correct eye protection is a must! Bottom line: Read the safety section of the manual that came with your plasma system and do what it says. Use the correct eye protection. Standard safety glasses or sunglasses will not work!
Laser and waterjet cutting also require eye protection. We'll go over eye safety for those two processes in a future post.