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Under water plasma cutting is nothing new - it was first done in the mid 1970's. But it still has many advantages that lead many fabricators, steel service centers, and manufacturers to prefer it over dry cutting. An "Air Curtain" or "Bubble Muffler" is used to create a pocket of air around the front end of the torch, shielding the arc from the water. But not every thickness of every material can be cut under water. So what are the limits, and what happens if you push them?
There are a lot of great reasons to use a water table for plasma cutting. Under water plasma cutting reduces arc glare, eliminates dangerous noise levels, captures smoke, cools the parts, and reduces heat distortion. But one common objection to plasma cutting mild steel on a water table is steel’s propensity to rust.
When CNC plasma cutting, there are a lot of good reasons for using a water table instead of a dry, or down draft table. A water table is less expensive to purchase, does not require a dust collector (in most areas), reduces noise, eliminates dangerous arc flash, reduces heat distortion and keeps parts cool, just to name a few. And even though it is an older technology, a significant number of large gantry CNC plasma and oxy-fuel cutting machines are still sold with water tables.
Down draft tables are commonly used under plasma and laser cutting machines as an effective method for smoke collection and removal. Small down draft tables are common in shops where a work cell includes a hand-held plasma cutter. But larger CNC plasma machines and large plate lasers also use down draft tables on a much larger scale.