How to Cut Aluminum With a Plasma Cutter


Plasma cutters remove material through the use of compressed air and an electrical arc. The electrical arc super heats the metal in a very small and definite area. Once the metal is liquid, the compressed air then blows the metals from the cutting path. All of this occurs extremely fast. An advantage of the plasma cutter is that it can cut most types of metals. This includes steel, stainless steel and aluminum.

Things You'll Need

  • Compressed air source
  • Plasma cutter (portable unit)
  • Sheet aluminum (less than 5/8 inch thick)
  • Connect the compressed air source into the plasma cutter. Most portable units will need an auxiliary air source. In most cases, the plasma cutter may not even switch on until the air source is present.

  • Switch the plasma cutter on. Allow the unit to go through a self diagnostic test. A green light will appear on the face of most models when the unit is ready for operation.

  • Set the tip of the hand held torch to the outside edge of the material being cut. The center tip hole, or torch cutting orifice, should rest just to the outside edge of the material.

  • Depress the torch trigger. Air will immediately blow from the torch tip. One second later, the electrical arc will ignite.

  • Move the torch head tip along the material cut line. Hold the torch approximately 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch away and above the material. Do not drag the torch head along the surface as this will prematurely wear out the interior cutting tip parts.

  • Continue to plasma cut the material until the full piece you desire is cut. Release the torch switch and the arc will cease. The compressed air will continue to blow from the tip for a predetermined time to cool down the hand held torch.


  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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