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Meet the new plasma

When provided with a new definition of high-definition plasma, fabricators quickly see the technology’s benefits

You may have heard. A completely redesigned plasma system is now available. Released in Spring 2017, Hypertherm’s new XPR300 is reshaping the way fabricators approach metal cutting.

The advances in cut quality, cutting speed and consumable life are so significant, in fact, that Hypertherm is introducing a whole new class of plasma called X-Definition. So for those who may not have heard about X-Definition, introductions are in order. By getting to know this new technology, fabricators are given the opportunity to increase the quality of cuts on a myriad of materials.

High standards

The first thing new users to X-Definition learn is that it combines engineering advances and high-definition plasma processes to deliver high plasma cut quality on mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Laboratory testing shows ISO 9013 Range 2 cut quality on thin mild steel and extended ISO Range 3 cut quality on thicker metals. These standards are put in place by the International Organization for Standardization in regard to the classification of thermal cutting and quality tolerances.

Important for any fabricator, this cut quality is exceptionally consistent. The new plasma technology does not just make a few nice cuts and then taper off; the cuts remain in the ISO Range 2 and Range 3 for a long period of time.

To reach this point, Hypertherm engineers had to develop a number of new patent-pending processes, such as Vented Water Injection (VWI), Plasma Dampening and Vent-to-Shield technologies. The end result is squarer cut edges, markedly less angularity and excellent surface finish on nonferrous metals like aluminum and stainless steel.

System efficiency compared to earlier Hypertherm systems, such as the HyPerformance HPR260XD, is also improved. This means lower energy use. For comparison, the XPR300 only needs 170 amps to equal the cutting speed of an HPR260XD set at 200 amps.

Though the exact speed increase depends on the material thickness being cut, generally the XPR300 is expected to cut 10 to 20 percent faster than the HPR on material between 1/2 in. and 1 1/2 in. thick, 38 percent faster when cutting material 2 in. thick and nearly 50 percent faster when cutting 2 3/8-in.-thick material. In addition, the XPR300 pierces thicker thanks to increased power and an argon-assist process.

Long life

Another significant advance takes place with consumable life and cut quality over the life of the consumables. Both get a dramatic boost from advances such as Cool Nozzle and Arc Response technology, new technologies that protect consumables from the negative impact of ramp down errors. As any fabricator knows, ramp down errors are a regular occurrence in real-life cutting.

These errors, in which an arc is terminated in an uncontrolled manner by running off the plate or having an interior feature, such as a hole or slot fall away, are very damaging to consumables. The hafnium emitter found at the tip of all electrodes can’t re-solidify when an arc “snaps” off. As a result, every time a ramp down occurs, a little bit of hafnium is ejected from the electrode, accelerating consumable wear.

By reducing the impact of ramp down errors, XPR300 consumables can last up to three times longer than those on competitive, older generation systems. Whereas before on the HPR, a set of consumables might have lasted for close to 1,000 cuts, XPR300 consumables can make close to 1,400 20-sec. cuts on 3.4-in. mild steel.

Easy use

Despite all the new technology, Hypertherm engineers took care to make sure the new plasma system is user friendly. Sensors in the power supply deliver refined diagnostic codes and help provide more system information. This reduces troubleshooting time and provides proactive data to improve overall system optimization and uptime.

There are fewer consoles and connections so operators spend less time setting up. An EasyConnect feature allows operators to quickly plug the torch lead into the torch connect console without the use of tools, while a patent-pending QuickLock electrode delivers easy quarter-turn tightening to further reduce setup time.

Another feature is Wi-Fi. Hypertherm engineers added Wi-Fi to the power supply so that operators and managers can monitor the system from a tablet, PC or smart phone. The technology actually allows an operator to select a cutting process from a mobile device or laptop.

There’s no question the XPR300 delivers a lot of new features, but the bottom line for fabricators is often profitability. With its better cut quality, faster cutting speeds and longer consumable life, the XPR delivers by lowering the overall cost per foot (or meter) of cutting. In fact, at 300 amps of output, the XPR300 can reduce that cost by more than 50 percent.

Hypertherm Inc.

The EasyConnect feature lets operators plug the torch lead into the torch connect console without the use of tools, reducing setup time while increasing productivity.

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