Plasma Cutting Templates- Advantages, How to Make and Use

plasma cutting templates

Want to produce perfect logo, shapes, designs, and make your plasma cutting metal artwork easier?

Or, need to make a bunch of identical designs? But don't have a real steady hand for the job?

Then, using plasma cutting templates can help you a lot.

No doubt about it!

Think I’m exaggerating?

No Dear!

Although the CNC plasma cutter is an excellent option to get the job done, it's expensive and requires the necessary skills.

So, using a template can be a great alternative to this that helps you obtain the desired design quickly and reduce wastage.

This post is all about plasma cut templates

Learn how to make and use a template and many more.

Advantages of Using Plasma Cutting Templates

The reason why using a template is so popular is that of the several benefits associated with it. Here are some significant advantages:

  1. There are various methods to make metal art. The patterns or shapes can be cut with a laser, plasma cutter, or waterjet CNC machines. But uses of the template will make your process less expensive.
  2. It's a great way to simplify the plasma art object cutting, shaping, or designing process along with the outline. The template will guide the plasma cutter to cut your desired art piece.
  3. Beginners or who don't have a real steady hand can perfectly and quickly cut the desired shape or design with ease by using a template.
  4. If your project involves repeated cut for identical pieces, a standard template will make your work simple, precise, and save your time.
  5. It reduces metal wastage and saves you money.
  6. If you want to make money with a plasma cutter by producing metal artwork, you may need to produce multiple and identical pieces of art. A template will help you to get the job done within a very short time.
  7. For a freehand complex cut, you'll need a lot of practice. Sometimes it may not be possible to do it correctly, which will affect your production. A template will make your project hassle-free and more comfortable.

Basics of Plasma Cutting Art work

Virtually, all type of plasma cutter metal artwork requires two primary forms of object cutting:

  • Cutting shapes and designs
  • Cutting a perfect circle

Free Hand-Cut Shapes and Designs

Most of the artwork is dependent on how well you can cut shapes and designs. So, the freehand cut shape is a crucial skill to learn. The best way is to practice it on your own until you are comfortable cutting any shape.

Freehand Cut a Perfect Circle

Along with different shapes, many art pieces may require circle cutting. Unfortunately, a freehand cut circle is one of the most critical shapes to get. It's challenging to come up with a perfect perimeter using a free hand. You may end up wasting materials and time. However, you can simplify the process by using a quick jig or a circular object to mark the outline.

So, freehand cutting seems difficult to you. In either case, you'll need to practice a lot on your own to gain efficiency. However, it’s time consuming.

Here is where plasma cutting circle templates come in handy.

You can use a template to make any shape of design with a plasma cutter.

How to Make A Template For Plasma Cutting- DIY Template

If you own a hand-held plasma cutter and want to create beautiful metal art and sell it, using a template will speed up your work.

But buying templates each time you need to produce an art piece won't be cost-effective. You can make a template of your choice at home.

Step 1: Gather the supplies to make a piece to be used as a template

Necessary tools and supplies

  • Ruler & pencil
  • Cardboard/ Scrap piece of metal sheet
  • Sharp knife/ Jigsaw
  • Soapstone
  • Two or more metal clamps

Step 2: Outline the design onto a piece of cardboard.

Step 3: Along the outline, cut the shape by using a sharp knife.

**If you use the same template frequently, it will wear and tear or damage quickly due to heat generated from the cutter. Fortunately, you can use a scrap piece of metal to make a durable template. In this case, you have to use a jigsaw to cut the sheet.

Step 4: Clamp your template to the workpiece on the worktable. To hold it firmly in place you'll require at least two clamps. In case of large shape, you may need three or more clamps.

How To Use A Template To Produce Designs or Art Pieces
Method 1

Step 1: Secure the workpiece on the plasma cutting worktable or welding table. Place the template on the workpiece you planned to cut for the art piece.

Step 2: Securely clamp the template to the workpiece. For smaller shape you'll need at least two clamps. But if it's a large shape, you may require more clamps.

Step 3: Slowly trace the outline all around the template. You can use soapstone for this purpose.

Step 4: Take away the template and all the clamps. The design or pattern will appear on your workpiece or sheet.

Step 5: Position the plasma cutting tip directly over any point of the outline and start cutting. It'll porduce a well-finished cut off your art piece.

Move your plasma cutting tip slowly and carefully to obtain the precise cut. 

Method 2

Step 1: Set up the workpiece and template on the metal block and securely clamp them to your worktable by using clamps.

Step 2: If you pierce the metal at the beginning of your cut, start from outside of the template and hold the torch at an angle. Keep the gun perpendicular and slowly move it to the side of the template and complete the cut.

Step 3: Cut all the areas you can use the template

Step 4: Remove the template.

Step 5: If there is any point uncut that are too small for the template to accommodate, hand-cut all these areas by following the outline.

Safety Tips

Pay particular care to the safety- wear gloves, long sleeves, and an appropriate pair of shaded safety glasses

Selecting The Right Plasma Cutter For Metal Art

There are few considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right plasma cutter for metalwork.

The most crucial factor is the cut rating of the machine. Cut rating indicates the thickness of metal or material that the unit can cut cleanly when moving at about 10 IPM (inches per minute). Cut rating is directly proportional to the unit's output amp.

Next, choose a model that is capable of cutting the metal thickness you'll use most often.

What type of cutting tips you’re using is another important factor to consider. For a plasma cutter rated below 40 amps (having 5/8-in. cut rating), you can rest the tip directly on the workpiece when making a cut.

However, if it's 40 amps (or more) model, resting the tip on the workpiece may produce double arcing, which may quickly damage the tip. For this reason, you can use a drag shield to maintain proper standoff during the cutting process.

Can I use wood/ MDF templates with a plasma cutter?

Yes, you can.

You can make a slot template up out of ¾-inch MDF or hardboard and clamp it to steel top. Then, you can use it to guide your plasma torch around by hand. You can use a drag tip to follow it with the plasma torch.

However, it the plasma cutter wood template is under the edge of the cut, and overtime it’ll likely burn.

Conclusion

A template can work in all shapes for plasma cutter art ideas.

Whether it's wall art, freestanding sculpture, a company logo, or any complex design, a plasma cut template will make your work easy and, of course, ENJOYABLE.

Tackle the most challenging design with plasma cutting templates.

Thanks for reading!

Ivan D. Mitchell
 

Chief Engineer, Manufacturing Engineering Tool and Launch, specializing in automation equipment design and build which meets World Class Manufacturing methodology. 15 years of work experience as Tooling Specialist on some of the leading automotive manufacturing company. His primary area of expertise is automation equipment design and build.

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