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Plasma arc cutting can be loud, really loud. For CNC shape cutting systems, almost every plasma system in use will require hearing protection when dry cutting.
Dry plasma arc cutting of Aluminum plate may require expensive and complicated dust removal systems. It is also a very loud process, producing high intensity ultra-violet light. Therefore, many companies prefer to cut Aluminum on a water table. Most Aluminum alloys can easily be plasma cut on a water table, Aluminum-Lithium alloys being the exception - see the note below. But even for the majority of alloys that can be cut on a water table, the user has to be aware of a very real and dangerous explosion hazard, and take steps to avoid it.
At the 2012 IMTS show I was again surprised to hear so many people as this question: “That’s plasma? So what’s the reason for cutting under water?” And we’re not talking about just cutting on a table that has water below the plate. Under water CNC plasma cutting actually submerges the plate below 2 to 4” of water, so the torch tip and the entire arc are submerged, just like we were doing at IMTS. It’s nothing new, we’ve been cutting under water for 40 years, which is why I’m always a little shocked when someone has never even heard of it, let alone doesn’t understand the reasons why. So here’s a quick run-down of the benefits, and disadvantages, of plasma cutting while completely submerged.