Water Table for Plasma Cutting Equipment

One of the technological innovations coming out of World War II was  the use of plasma for cutting metals and other substances.  In this  process, the temperature of a gas is raised until it becomes a plasma, a substance so hot that it can melt steel or cut through solid stone.   This speeds up the cutting process, makes it more precise and allows  greater standardization of the parts being produced.

The plasma cutting process is not without its disadvantages.  The heat  is so great that the piece being cut can melt or warp, and workplace  fires resulting in worker injury can occur.  The air around the plasma  beam conducts some of the energy from it, and the density of the air  lowers its frequency into the audible range, making a great deal of  noise.  The final danger with plasma cutters is that they scatter  particles of metals into the air, creating a breathing hazard for  workers.

The water table addresses all these problems and makes plasma cutters  safer and easier to use.  In this device, the cutting takes place in a  container of water shaped like a table with raised sides.  The piece to  be cut is suspended at or slightly below the water’s surface so the  water can carry excess heat, noise and particulate matter away from the  work area.

Water is a perfect choice for this purpose, since it is an excellent conductor of heat.  If the water gets hot enough to turn into water  vapor, the molecular process of changing from one state to the other  consumes most of the heat and cools the metal in seconds.  Even after  the metal cools below water’s evaporation temperature, the water is such a dense, conductive medium that it further conducts and disperses the  heat.

The density of water causes sound waves passing through it to lose much  of their energy.  Acting as a shock absorber, the water reduces the  amount of noise in the work area.  Water also catches the stray  particles of metal and washes them away for disposal.

This process is used in machine shops and manufacturing facilities using CNC cutting equipment.  Because of it, the work area is safer and the  cutting process is more practical.

Since water and metal are in contact, rust can result.  To increase the  life of metal parts, the water should contain additives to retard  corrosion by limiting oxidation.

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