Exploring CNC Plasma Cutting: How Different Plasma Cutters Work?

  • Updated: June 25, 2024

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Michael Yu

As a compound talent with History, Filmmaking, and Digital Manufacturing background, Michael Yu has dedicated his life to dispelling misconceptions about the manufacturing sector and transforming it into a fascinating and competent industry.
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Plasma frequently appears as a fighting superpower in video games and comic books. This is due to pragmatic considerations that plasma cutting technology has been applied on a large scale in industry. Sit tight and hold on while I introduce you the principle and types of plasma cutting.

What is CNC plasma cutting and how it works

XMAKE-plasma cutting work process

Before I start futther intro about the various type of plasma cutting, I need to ensure you, our esteemed reader, knows how it works. I’ll use simple words to describe how it works and main components that helps it working.

Description of plasma cutting process

Plasma cutting process is a widely used method for cutting through electrically conductive materials such as steel, aluminum, brass, and copper.

The working process involves:

1. Use computer-aided design (CAD) software and computer numerical control (CNC) system to create codes that directs the plasma torch along a programmed cutting path.

2. Use of a high-velocity jet of ionized gas, typically compressed air, which is passed through a small nozzle. The electrical arc of the nozzle raises the temperature of the gas to 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit and transform it as plasma.

3. This superheated plasma is then directed at the material being cut, melting it and blowing away the molten metal with the force of the gas stream.

4. The gas stream will create an electrical circuit through the workpiece and the nozzle. The arc ionizes the gas passing through the nozzle, turning it into plasma.

5. The plasma then cuts through the material with extreme precision and speed.

During the process, The operator can adjust the speed of the cutting process and the intensity of the plasma beam to achieve the desired results.

Components of a CNC plasma cutting system

Plasma cutting system consists of several key components that work together to accurately and efficiently cut through various materials.

Component Effect
Controler Allowing operators to input codes and commands as parameters to control the entire process
Cutter using high-velocity stream of ionized gas and high-powered plasma arc to melt the material as wanted shape
CNC plasma cutting table provides a stable surface for the material, ensures accurate and precise
Torch height controller maintain the optimal height and distance between the ttool and the material
Smoke extraction system
Release smoke and ensure fire safety
water table For cooling in process
software For designing and programming codes for cutting

Types of CNC plasma cutting machines

Okay, I believe our esteemed reader already understand how plasma cutting works and why it is able to cut metal. Now I’m gonna introduce you three main plasma cutters, their respective working principles, pros, cons, applications, and what materials are used for cutting.

Benchtop CNC plasma cutters

XMAKE-Benchtop plasma cutter

Benchtop cutters involves using CNC system to guide the tool along the computer designed cutting path to create precise and clean cuts with minimal material wastage.

Benchtop CNC cutters
Advantages Disadvantages
High precision and speed Strict size and variety limit
Ease-using Not suitable for larger scale projects or thick material
Short set up and transport time High initial cost
Suitable Material Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Wood, Plastic
Application Area Small Fabrication shops, Educational institutions, Hobbyist workshops
Product Example Custom Artwork, Prototypes, Signage, Machinery Parts

Portable CNC plasma cutters

XMAKE-portable plasma cutter

Portable CNC cutters involves using computer codes to guide high-temperature torch along and cut through the sheet, which makes clean and accurate cuts with high precision.

Portable CNC cutters
Advantages Disadvantages
Transport flexibility Small capacity limit
High speed with low heat generate Not suitable in large metal pieces
Cost-effectiveness High requirement in setup and training
Suitable Material Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum
Application Area Metal fabrication process, Automotive manufacturing, Construction
Product Example Custom parts, Signage, Prototypes

Industrial CNC plasma cutters

XMAKE-industrial plasma cutter

Industrial CNC cutters involves programming wanted pattern, dimensions and shape, and cut steel, aluminum, copper, and stainless steel accurately following the code.

Industrial CNC cutters
Advantages Disadvantages
Suitable in cutting through thick materials High initial cost
Ideal for large-scale production High requirement in setup and training
Excellent production continuity Can only cut conductive materials
Suitable Material Steel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Copper
Application Area Manufacturing, Construction, Automotive
Product Example Simple shape for Prototype, Intricate designs for Decorative metalwork


XMAKE-conclusion about plasma cutting

Sum it up

  • CNC plasma cutting offers a cost-effective and versatile solution for cutting various materials and famous for its speed, precision and versatility.
  • This technology has three main segment types: Benchtop, Portable, and Industrial. Each one has its own benefits and limitations.
  • By understanding the key points and best practices associated with this technology, users can maximize efficiency and accuracy in their cutting processes.

The future outlook of plasma cutting

  • With the progress of hardware and software, plasma cutting will become faster and more accurate, which eventually leads to cost saving and increase productivity.
  • Also, we believe this technology will continues to advance and evolve itself to become a user-frendly services with lower price and accesible to a wider range of businesses.

XMAKE and CNC plasma cutting

As the leading manufacturing platform, XMAKE has rich experience in dealing manufacturing needs and difficulties.  If you are looking for plasma cutting solutions or other CNC process, the best way to let smile come back to your face is leave it to XMAKE.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1: How does the cutter creates plasma during the work?

A: A plasma tool operates by forcing a gas through a narrow nozzle and at the same time sending an electric arc through the gas. This process creates plasma, which is a state of matter where some of the electrons are separated from their atoms.

Q2: What is the difference between plasma cutting and flame cutting?

A: Plasma cutting is a thermal cutting process that uses a focused jet of hot plasma to cut through materials, while flame cutting uses a combination of oxygen and a fuel gas to create a high-temperature flame for cutting. Plasma cutting is often more precise and efficient than flame cutting.

Q3: How important is the cnc software in plasma cutting?

A: CNC software plays a crucial role in plasma cutting as it allows users to program and control the cutting process with precision. The software translates design files into cutting instructions for the CNC machine, ensuring accurate and efficient cutting operations

Q4: Can plasma cutters cut through thick metal?

A: Yes, plasma cutters can cut it through vary thicknesses, ranging from thin sheet metal to thick stainless steel, aluminum, and even high-definition plasma cuts on specialized machines.

Q5: What is the difference between CNC plasma cutting and laser cutting?

A: While both processes use a high-energy source to cut materials, CNC plasma cutting uses a plasma torch to cut through metal, whereas laser cutting system utilize a laser beam for cutting purposes.

Q6: What is CNC control in plasma cutting?

A: CNC control in plasma cutting refers to the use of computer numerical control technology to precisely guide the plasma torch along the programmed cutting path, ensuring accurate and repeatable cuts.

Q7: Can handheld plasma cutters be used for CNC cutting?

A: Yes, handheld plasma cutters can be used for CNC cutting applications when mounted on a CNC table or gantry, allowing for automated cutting processes and increased productivity.


  1. The development trend of CNC plasma cutting technology in my country | Xuanbang Cutting Machine. (n.d.).http://www.sunbow-cut-weld.com.cn/article.asp?id=641
  2. Leo, G. (2023c, December 12). Plasma Cutting: Definition, Process and Benefits. Aria | Online Manufacturing for On-Demand Custom Services.https://www.madearia.com/zh-CN/blog/plasma-cutting-definition-process-and-advantages/

  3. Application of CNC plasma cutting machine in cutting plate | CNC plasma cutting machine | CNC flame cutting machine | CNC cutting machine | Gantry type CNC flame plasma cutting machine manufacturer – Wuhan Huayucheng CNC. (n.d.). http://www.6188cnc.com/news/content-960.html

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