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  • Plasma cutting tips?

    I've been using my plasma cutter more and more in my shop (beats a shear any day!), but I'm having a hard time getting a perfectly straight cut without using a drag tip.

    I use a random piece of scrap as a guide, but with the conventional tips, you have to hover 1/16- to 1/8" above the workpiece, and the cord tension causes the head to rotate.

    Are drag tips cheating? Is there any downside to using drag tips over conventional tips?

    Also, they sell dedicated gouging tips -- are they worth it?
    Last edited by lazlo; 08-12-2012, 11:17 AM.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

  • #2
    I use whatever method gives me the results I want. I was making some position welds one time at a turkey processing plant. The pipe was four inch, I had a chain vise grip clamped around the pipe to give my left arm a place to rest which supported or "propped" my right hand. Some of the local maintainence guys were in the distance watching,, they were making fun of the fact that not only was I using two hands, but also had a "crutch" (vise grip). The fact that none of these guys could pass a weld test, let alone an x-ray didn't seem to dawn on them ... so I don't give much thought as to whether a "cheat" is used.

    I generally drag my plasma cutter, the consumables take a little more of a beating, but I figure small price for the cuts I want.

    rollin'

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    • #3
      I have limited experience with my plasma cutter (Hypertherm 1000) and need all the help I can get. I recently cut a very nice 12 inch circle from 1/2 plate with the help of a quality roller wheel cutting guide. Does both circles and straight lines (use a staight edge or guiding the wheel); it maintains exact distance above the material.
      Last edited by lakeside53; 08-12-2012, 06:28 PM.

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      • #4
        +1 for lakeside. The guide wheels will hold ur 1/16 or 1/8 for you so you can concentrate on cut.

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        • #5
          I know Lakeside53's plasma cutter better than he does. He was also using a drag tip when he cut that circle. I have a Hypertherm also and have made thousands of dollars with it. I always use a drag tip. Clamp on a straightedge - 1/8" thick 4' or 6' aluminum rulers work great - adjust your distance to the line, remembering which side you want the kerf on, and make your cut. It may not look sheared but it will be pretty darn straight.

          The *only* reason to not use a drag tip is when you are running a machine torch, or when you're gouging. Drag tips are your friend. Become one with them.

          metalmagpie

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          • #6
            Make or buy a torch guide.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
              I know Lakeside53's plasma cutter better than he does.
              That sounds kinda personal

              I have a Hypertherm also and have made thousands of dollars with it. I always use a drag tip. Clamp on a straightedge - 1/8" thick 4' or 6' aluminum rulers work great - adjust your distance to the line, remembering which side you want the kerf on, and make your cut. It may not look sheared but it will be pretty darn straight.

              The *only* reason to not use a drag tip is when you are running a machine torch, or when you're gouging. Drag tips are your friend. Become one with them.
              Thanks guys! Drag tips it is!

              The training wheels and circle cutters look interesting, but they also look like they take a lot of setup and a lot of space on the workpiece.
              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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              • #8
                You are using the little standoff the torch came with, aren't you?

                Nothing wrong with drag tips. They may not have as long as a life or you are usually limited to lower current.

                I have a thermadyne sl100 torch on my old stack pack. I use a piece of fiber reinforced phenolic that is thick enough to hold the tip away from the work while resting on the ledge between the tip and the insulator cup. Works great.

                Gouging works, but you almost want to have a fire suit on when doing it. It throws molten slag everywhere.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by macona View Post
                  You are using the little standoff the torch came with, aren't you?
                  As you know , it's the Firepower FP-70A. I didn't come with a standoff tips Just a standoff nozzle and 20, 40, 60A tips.

                  I have a thermadyne sl100 torch on my old stack pack. I use a piece of fiber reinforced phenolic that is thick enough to hold the tip away from the work while resting on the ledge between the tip and the insulator cup. Works great.
                  That's the torch I have (the SL100). You're riding on the front surface of the cup, right? I'll have to try that...
                  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                  • #10
                    I use one of these for freehand:

                    http://www.buyweld.com/9-8251.html

                    I would skip the drag tip and use these:

                    http://www.buyweld.com/9-8237.html

                    with

                    http://www.buyweld.com/9-8235.html

                    or

                    http://www.buyweld.com/9-8236.html

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                      I know Lakeside53's plasma cutter better than he does. He was also using a drag tip when he cut that circle.

                      metalmagpie


                      To clarify the above, yes I was using a drag tip, but I was using it in a roller wheel guide adjusted to about 15-20 thou above the surface which means it was probably too high for optimal cutting. A non-drag tip (if I had one!) would have allowed me to be closer. Dragging onto the surface with the circle cutter was not working well as I needed to back up ocassionally if I got ahead of the cut.
                      Last edited by lakeside53; 08-12-2012, 08:39 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lazlo View Post

                        The training wheels and circle cutters look interesting, but they also look like they take a lot of setup and a lot of space on the workpiece.
                        Setup is really quick, at least on mine, and it can get adjusted to be very compact. They they are hard to beat for arcs and circles! I woudn't use drag tip on a wheeled guide.

                        This is mine : http://www.tanjant.com/product/plasm...ting-guide-kit

                        No idea where to buy it locally; Metalmagpie found it at some flea market or garage sale or pennies on the $
                        Last edited by lakeside53; 08-12-2012, 08:37 PM.

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                        • #13
                          I have a Hypertherm, and I don't like to use drag tips unless it is a straight cut, or a repetitive cut for which it is worth making a pattern. The drag tip is too wide, and I can't see exactly where it is going. Most of the stuff I cut is curvy, and one-off.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
                            This is mine : http://www.tanjant.com/product/plasm...ting-guide-kit

                            No idea where to buy it locally; Metalmagpie found it at some flea market or garage sale or pennies on the $
                            Hilarious! That's what Thermadyne calls their 7-8910 "Deluxe Cutting Guide Kit"
                            http://store.cyberweld.com/decugukit.html
                            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by macona View Post
                              Nothing wrong with drag tips. They may not have as long as a life or you are usually limited to lower current.
                              I ran across this video of the Welding Tips & Tricks guy (who's a damn good welder), and he switches from a drag tip to the standoff tip, and has the exact same results I was having. So I'm not a putz after all

                              http://youtu.be/RsbqWr1FAL0?t=7m36s

                              Standoff cutting is also way brighter. Drag cutting is pretty comfortable with shade 5 acetylene glasses, but with the standoff tips I need at least shade 8 (i.e., my welding helmet) to not go blind...
                              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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