Plasma Cutter Air Dryer Basics - All You Need To Know About Air Dryers
Plasma cutting is one of the easiest things to learn when you begin to weld metal. And as you go along, you begin to understand how your plasma cutter works including how to maintain it to maximize its capacities.
Compressed air is the most important element in plasma cutting while the electric current is what converts the air into plasma. And while compressed air can be readily available as long as you have a reliable air compressor working, you can cut almost any type of metal, even the very hard carbon steel with your plasma cutter.
Nevertheless, if your compressor can not deliver clean air for your torch, the plasma could also get contaminated which can badly influence the cut of your torch. And this is why we have to use a plasma cutter air dryer for this purpose.
How A Plasma Cutter Air Dryer Works?
Plasma cutter air dryers work with the help of plasma cutter air filters. These filter the air that comes from the compressors by catching and trapping the solid and liquid contaminants before it reaches the torch.
As the air passes through the air filter, the filter isolates the particulates while the moisture trap separates the moisture and oil. With an effective filter, about 95% of the contaminants can be filtered out. In this manner, when the air reaches the plasma cutter the air that goes into the torch is almost pure.
Why only the pure air is needed is because if these particulates and moisture mix up with the plasma these can wear out the torch’ consumables much faster by creating sparks inside the nozzle which can damage and burn your consumables. With a damaged cutting tip and plasma torch nozzle, this makes the plasma less efficient and the cut won’t be smooth because of the drag.
On the other hand, there are factors why a plasma cutter air dryer can malfunction and these are the following:
The plasma cutter filter has already reached the point where it should be replaced.
The filter is not efficient enough to do its filtering job. This usually happens with the low-quality plasma cutter air dryers.
Inefficient delivery of clean air into the plasma torch due to accumulated dirt inside the air compressor which continuously blocks the air dryer’s filter.
There are various kinds of air dryers for compressors but don’t get distracted by their attractive external features because what is important is how efficient the plasma cutter air filter that’s inside the unit.
By the way, there are three ways where an air dryer could be installed.
With the new breed of plasma cutters with built-in air compressors, the filter can be attached at the back of the machine by connecting it to the air tubing that protrudes from the back of the machine.
The second system is the in-line installation wherein you could connect the plasma cutter air dryer between the air compressor and the plasma cutter which means the dryer can be connected along right on the hose.
The other system is connecting the air dryer right on the compressor where the hose is connected and you can connect the hose with.
Advantages of Installing a Dryer
I usually get this question even from people who use plasma cutters for years. Is it really necessary to install a plasma cutter air dryer on my air compressor or on my compressor’s line?
As we have discussed, the purpose of installing air dryers with efficient plasma cutter air filters is to clean out the air that comes from the air compressor so that the plasma produced is more pure and intense.
Compared to plasma cutters, especially those that have been used for years and not properly maintained, the cuts that they produce are not as clean as those with plasma cutter air dryers installed. This scenario can be typically observed among the CNC plasma cutter types that are used in industrial settings.
So if you want to make sure that you always get intense plasma out of your torch, opting for a plasma cutter air dryer will only bring about good effects on your cutting jobs.
Is Buying a Plasma Cutter Air Dryer Worth the Investment?
The answer is yes. If you have a high-end plasma cutter that costs you some money, you may also need quality consumables which can also be expensive. So better think about installing an air dryer with a reliable plasma cutter filter if you want to prolong the life of your consumables while using your cutting machine more often.
Nevertheless, though some people suggest that you don’t need to install an air dryer if your unit is an imported low-rated 50-amp because the consumables for these come cheap, this is not actually a practical justification. All types of plasma cutters need clean air to preserve the life of the consumables and in turn, produce efficient cuts regardless if you are using a pilot or a non-pilot arc torch.
How to Save Money With Efficient Air Filters
We understand that air filter units with high-grade plasma cutter air filters do not come cheap as most of them can come between $150 to $280. However, there are cheaper alternatives to make the air coming out from your air compressor clean and without moisture.
For example, you can opt for a cheaper alternative like an oil water separator that is typically used by spray gun painters and can be installed on the plasma cutter’s air line. Affordable and simple, this can also eliminate dust, moisture, particles, and oil from the air that comes from the compressor.
Most of these accessories are made with stainless metals and transparent hard plastic to let you see the elements it filters and such items won’t even cost you $20 but you can be assured that your torch only gets dry and clean air.
You can also buy an inline filter desiccant unit that can effectively separate moisture that comes from your tank. This kind can also remove humidity, oil and water effectively as it contains desiccant on its air filter. You can purchase such an accessory at below $40 price.
These two small but versatile accessories also have certain indications on how many PSIs they can afford to handle and you can check their fittings online to let you know how and where you can install them.
So looking for air dryer units with efficient plasma cutter air filters is not actually a problem if your issues come from the cost of expensive air dryers.
You don’t need to spend a good amount of money to achieve dry and clean air because as we have given you the examples, you can find affordable plasma cutter air dryers online and some of these have been tested efficiently.
Be practical and be creative. Buying expensive air dryers then eventually fails your expectations not only can waste your time and money but also affects the quality of your work. If you cannot afford to buy a costly plasma cutter air dryer, try starting out with the accessories that are commonly used for spray painting and these come cheaply.
You may get surprised how they can turn to be efficient and can match the performance of the costly branded units.