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cnc plasma cutting via sheet metal fabrication

What is CNC Plasma Cutting and How Does it Work?

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What is CNC plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting is a thermal cutting technique that uses a plasma torch. It is designed to cut through electrically conductive metals, such as steel, aluminium, brass, titanium and copper – both thick and thin. CNC in CNC plasma cutting stands for computer numerical control. As the name suggests, the accelerated jet of hot plasma is controlled and directed by a computerized manufacturing process, leaving no room for human error.

How does CNC plasma cutting work?

Plasma cutters operate by forcing a gas or compressed air at rapid speed through a nozzle. An electric arc is then introduced to the gas, creating plasma or ionized gas which can slice through metals at speeds of up to 500 inches per minute. The motions of the plasma torch or cutter are controlled and directed by a set of numerical codes in a program, also known as the G-code (a simple programming language for CNC machines), allowing for highly accurate cuts.

Unlike many hobby CNC technologies, you need a large amount of space in a well-ventilated area in order to operate a CNC plasma cutter safely.

What is CNC plasma cutting used for?

Plasma cutting is a versatile technology used to cut a wide range of materials, including copper, titanium, steel and more. Due to the way the plasma torches penetrate through materials, CNC plasma cutting is used for cutting sheets of metal rather than a block of material – like CNC milling and turning.

Plasma cutters are highly efficient. It takes one-fourth of the time it does for most similar technology to make the same cut. Its accurate motions guided by computer numerical codes and fast process times make it great for making clean and quick cuts for sheet metal prototypes and low-volume productions.

Due to its many advantages, CNC plasma cutting is often used to make high-precision sheet metal parts for the aerospace industry and create uniquely shaped automotive components. It has wide applications for a range of industries.

Is plasma cutting the right process for your project? Have a chat with our team today at for more information or upload a CAD file for our team to review it.

The Different Types of CNC Processes

Apart from CNC plasma cutting, there are several other common types of precision CNC machining processes. They include:


In order to take full advantage of the benefits of CNC machining, product designers and engineers must familiarize themselves with the process and considerations. Partnering with an on-demand digital manufacturer like HLH Rapid can be the ticket to faster, more effective design and production.

Drop us your designs today and our team of experts will create a DFM and provide suggestions on the most suitable process and how to optimize your designs.

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