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This page is a work in progress and I will be updating it from time to time.  You can also check out the Cut Quality Page which is closely related to this one.  

My second table had a Hypertherm Powermax65 and my newest table has a Hypertherm Powermax85.  Over the years I have learned a few ticks that helped me along the way.  Just to make sure we are on the same page use this picture for referencing the names to the  parts of the torch and consumables.


In mechanized plasma your electrode, and swirl ring will stay the same on most applications.  The retaining cap can have a clip coming off it if your table uses Ohmic sensing.   The nozzle is specific to the Amps your using and the Shield can vary from standard for 65 and 85 cutting or Fine cut for fine cut specific cutting.

On my machine I keep 4 sets like you see above.  One set for Finecut, One for 45 amp cutting, one for 65 amp cutting and one for 85 amp cutting.  I switch out this entire package when I switch to a different amp class.  Why?  Yes its more expensive to have duplicates off all of these parts, and its not necessary to switch all of the components each time but, having duplicates ensures I will always have parts should I need them.  This method also allows me to spread the work load across the packages instead of one retaining cap and swirl ring doing all the work parts last longer.  When swapping out the package it also allows me to inspect and clean the components. Keeping these components clean is important to archive quality results.

I had some problems with my shield for lack of a better term welding itself to the retaining cap.  I never pin pointed an exact cause but I believe it was due to water / debris getting into the threads on the retaining cap.   To solve this problem I put an o-ring on the retaining cap threads and I use a very light coat of Dow 111 silicone lube to coat the threads.  Since doing this I have not had that problem again.

I have seen postings on forums before where the retaining cap becomes damaged from the arc punching through the side instead of going out the nozzle like its supposed to.  This most commonly is caused by dirty components.  Cleaning and wiping them down on a regular basis will help prevent this.  Also in my case I believe the o-ring helps keep contamination out.

Switching out consumables -  Consumables are most commonly going to be your nozzle and electrode.   I consider these a matched pair.  When I change out one I change out the other.   100 % Necessary no but it has served me well.  The more pierces you do the faster your consumables will wear out.  If your have dirty air or if your not cutting and piercing at the correct height you can damage your nozzles.  Take a look at your nozzle orifice and make sure its round.  If there is a nick in it or its out of round this will affect your cut quality.  Electrode ware of 0.040 inches is about where you should switch them out.  Failure to cut through the material, wider than normal kerfs or arc start failures can be alerts that its time to switch out consumables.  Going past this point can result in a loss of cut quality.

I never throw away any of my old consumables, unless there is obvious damage or failure.  I have a hand torch for my system that I can quickly hook up and use to cut off remnant pieces or sever a large plate or just use if for general fab work. The old consumables that are not fit for the fine detail I want for mechanized plasma still work great for cutting off a bolt or chopping up a remnant piece of steel.

Articles -   Here are some articles that address many of the common problems

Hypertherm Powermax Consumable Education

What does a good plasma cut look Like?

Metal Marking Hypertherm Powermax45 XP

What is the best way to achieve a quality cut on aluminum using a Powermax on a cnc table?

Is it ok to us plasma to cut aluminum on a water table?

Videos -

Related Links:

    Hypertherm consumables     Material handling     Pricing your work     Marketing your business

Cut quality     Dross removal     Finishing options     Where to buy supplies     

Naming & Organizing your files     Turning your hobby into a business