Troubleshooting plasma cutter performance

By Hypertherm
Posted on 12/07/2018 in SPARK the blog, Plasma cutting

Sometimes it’s the little things that prove most frustrating. Your plasma cutter turns on, but the torch won’t fire, consumable life is poor, or the cut quality isn’t quite what you’re used to. Fortunately, there are things you can do to fix most of these plasma cutter performance issues.

Your plasma cutter torch does not fire. You pull the trigger and…nothing. If this happens to you there are a couple of likely culprits. The first culprit is the retaining cap. It may be screwed on too tightly. The solution? Loosen it. See, we told you this was easy! If that doesn’t fix the problem, then there could be something wrong with the consumables inside your plasma cutter torch. You could have loaded the wrong ones or assembled the parts in the wrong order. Remove the consumables from your torch, take everything apart, and carefully reassemble, making sure to match all the part numbers with the numbers shown on the top of the plasma cutter. If your torch still doesn’t fire, then it’s probably time to place a call to our technical service team, but before you do that, there is one last thing you can do; try plugging in and using another torch. This likely won’t fix your problem but it will help our technical service team more quickly diagnose the issue.

You’re using a lot more plasma cutter consumables. Hypertherm invests a lot in engineering, includes a lot of patented technology, and very carefully machines our plasma cutter parts to very tight tolerances to ensure long life. Here’s the thing though, many factors impact the life you’ll get. Type and thickness of material being cut, number of holes and pierces you make, size of parts, etc. Still, if you are doing the same type of cutting and notice consumables which used to last for 1 to 2 hours are suddenly spent after only half that time, it’s safe to say, something is wrong.

Here are some things to consider. Look at your nozzle. Are you using a drag cutting or regular nozzle? If a drag cutting nozzle, are you keeping the nozzle on the metal for the entire duration of the cut? Check your incoming air supply as a sudden drop in life could mean moisture is getting into your incoming air supply. Make sure you are using genuine consumables manufactured by Hypertherm and not an aftermarket supplier without access to our patented technologies, or worse, a counterfeiter. Counterfeiters have gotten so good at copying our consumable packaging; it’s incredibly difficult to tell the difference between genuine and non-genuine consumables. Protect yourself by (a) only buying from authorized Hypertherm partners, and (b) avoiding retailers with prices that seem too good to be true.

Your plasma cutter isn’t cutting like it used to. Some change in cut quality is expected. For example, minor changes to edge angularity or the amount of dross you are seeing is quite common. But if your cut quality is suddenly markedly worse, here are some things to try. Change out your nozzle and electrode as those two consumable parts are often the first to show signs of wear. If that still doesn’t fix the problem, try changing your swirl ring. Also, look at your air supply as moisture could be the culprit here as well.

Hypertherm’s North American Technical Service Team is happy to help you troubleshoot all your cutting issues. Contact the team via email at or by phone, if you’re in the U.S. or Canada, at 800-643-9878.



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