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Simplifying Hard-To-Reach Plasma Cutting and Gouging Operations

Listening and learning customer’s needs were pivotal in developing a new plasma cutting technology.
By Jonathan Murphy, product specialist, Hypertherm

 

The HyAccess offering includes an elongated electrode, a two-piece cutting nozzle with an internal swirl ring, a two-piece gouging nozzle with an internal swirl ring, an extended cap constructed of glass wound fiber and brass and an external swirl ring for air metering.


Successfully completing a job requires in-depth knowledge, precise execution, and the appropriate tools. Sometimes these parameters can be a challenge. With time and practice, however, a company can increase its job-specific knowledge, improve its execution, and, ideally, identify better tools for completing the job. That is the case for at least one well-established company.


For almost 50 years, Hypertherm has designed and manufactured cutting systems used by workers across the globe. We not only listen to our customers, but work hard to understand what they’re trying to do. What are the challenges they face, and how can we help the customer overcome them?

 

 

The extended consumable is 3-in. longer than the company’s standard tips, as seen here, and are much narrower. The design allows for better visibility and accessibility for working on challenging cutting locations such as corners and channels.


Roughly 5-years ago, Hypertherm’s product development team was working with the U.S. military to understand how to could make the Powermax plasma systems more  capable of repairing armored vehicles in remote locations. The company’s focus was on portability. We had determined that improved system portability would make Powermax systems the best tool for the job, but what we actually learned was quite different.

Users say HyAccess consumables allow operators to cut and gouge in places where they used to have to pull out several tools, like a grinding wheel or oxyfuel torch.


Following a demonstration in which we showcased a lighter, more portable version of the Powermax, one of the service members looked at us and held his hands up. He separated them a few inches apart, and said, “While portability is important, the biggest improvement you could make is to give your torch about this much more reach, with a really narrow tip.” This simple gesture and single comment stopped the development team in its tracks and prompted the design of Powermax consumables that provided longer reach to allow for greater accessibility.


What was developed is the HyAccess extended consumables that provide users extra reach when plasma cutting or gouging in hard to access or confined spaces. The device extends approximately 3-in (76mm) beyond the company’s standard consumable, which provides the user with better visibility and accessibility for working on challenging cutting locations such as corners and channels, close edges and through flanges. It also reduces secondary operations and the need to utilize other equipment such as a grinding wheel or oxy acetylene torch.

The extended consumable is 3-in. longer than the company’s standard tips, as seen here, and are much narrower. The design allows for better visibility and accessibility for working on challenging cutting locations such as corners and channels.


Since then, other customers have weighed in. One company had trouble reaching into limited access areas to make precise cuts with the torch. When using a template, the narrow tip hugs the tight curves of even a complex template. Another company liked the fact that the HyAccess consumables kept workers hands and the torch away from the heat.
Developing the consumables was a challenge to design. Among the challenges, the design team had to create an elongated electrode that could be cooled with an elongated design. They settled on a newly patented forward flow design that creates more convective cooling at the front. The other challenge was creating the appropriate gas flow with an elongated design. New components had to be added to ensure sufficient gas flow. While proprietary technology was the answer to creating the consumables, listening and understanding the customer’s needs was the first obstacle that was overcome.

Hypertherm

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