What is Plasma Cutting?

A Brief History

Plasma cutting was developed at the end of the 1950s for cutting high-alloy steels and aluminium. The Japanese invented the first high-precision systems in the 1980s, and U.S. companies began developing systems in the early 1990s. These services are used for all sorts of metal fabrication projects and is typically used in on-site construction or salvage yards. Here at Timmins Engineering, plasma cutting is used for a number of projects from unique designs used for decorative items to perfect cuts for constructing steel buildings.

What is plasma cutting?

This is a thermal cutting process in which a plasma arc is constricted through a nozzle. Plasma cutters work by sending an electric arc through a gas that is passing through a constricted opening. This service offers a low-cost sheet metal cutting service since no custom tooling is needed. The plasma cutting process is a basic principle is were an arc formed between the electrode and the work piece is constricted by a fine bore, copper nozzle. This increases the temperature and velocity of the plasma emanating from the nozzle. The temperature of the plasma is in excess of 20 000°C and the velocity can approach the speed of sound.


It can be used to cut all electrically conductive materials, such as structural steels, high-alloy steels, nonferrous metals such as aluminium and copper, and clad metal plates – all thick or thin.


These techniques are constantly being improved. The main aim of these enhancements is to reduce environmental pollution, increase cutting capacity, and
improve cut-edge quality. The ultimate goal is to produce two plane-parallel, even cut surfaces, which require little to no finishing before they are sent on for further processing. Depending on the type of material to be cut, its thickness and power source output, a number of plasma cutting variations are available.