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Plasma cutting isn’t just about slicing metal sheets or plates for industrial or manufacturing purposes. It does have a place in metal art. While there are different ways to cut metal sheets, plasma cutting with templates makes the process easier. If you’ve seen metal art, you’d know that you can cut metal in any shape. Of course, some templates are more difficult than others. So if you’re looking to cut a shape of a bee out of a stainless steel sheet, that will take time. And if you have to make different bee-shaped figures from your metal sheet, the smart thing to do is start with a template (1).
Why Use Plasma Cutting Templates
- Templates make metal cutting more convenient. Hence, they are valuable tools in metal art plasma cutting.
- Metal art templates make the process less intimidating for beginners, as various shapes and designs are available for them, and all they have to do is move the plasma torch along the pattern.
- Templates save time and resources. Because cutting is easier, you won’t spend as much time as you would if there was no template to begin with. Also, you reduce risks of mistakes, which you can’t make when you’re working with expensive metals.
- You can produce identical shapes. Have you tried making identical designs without an existing template? Yes, it’s impossible.
- If you’re a beginner, especially one who hasn’t developed coordination yet, a template helps you a lot in making sure you get perfect cuts. Even professionals use templates.
Making Templates for Metal Art Plasma Cutting
Two chief forms of cutting that happen with metal art plasma cutting are cutting shapes and designs and cutting perfect circles. Much of this type of artwork depends on how well you create shapes and designs. Because freehand shape cutting requires skill and experience, you’re better off practicing with templates until you’re confident enough in your dexterity.
Even doing something as simple as a circle without a guide is hard enough. Freehand cut circle, however, is a critical shape when it comes to metal art. You can always practice until you’re able to cut perfect circles, but practice takes time. And in this competitive industry, we’d rather work smart. Why bother working without tools? Circle templates are available, and there’s no rule out there that says you can’t use one.
It’s not just circles you should be worried about with metal art, because there’s practically any shape you need to cut, depending on the demands of your clients or your own artistry. This means you will need templates if you want to get serious with metal art as a hobby or as a part of your job. You have two options in this case. You can buy templates, or you can make them. Since the former is an expensive option, it’s not bad to try to make your own templates.
- Draw the design or shape on a cardboard or a piece of wood. You can also use a piece of scrap metal.
- Cut the shape with a knife or a box cutter.
You may wear out templates fast if you use them all the time. So consider making more copies of a template or using durable materials like wood or scrap metal. In this case, you need a jigsaw to make your templates.
Using Templates for Plasma Cutting
Once your templates are ready, you can start using them to cut metal sheets accordingly.
- Clamp the template to the workpiece and hold it in place with two or more clamps. The larger the template, the more clamps you need.
- Trace the outline around the template using a marker.
- Unclamp and then remove the template. Inspect the pattern on your workpiece. Make sure it’s discernible.
- Now you’re ready to cut the pattern out of your metal sheet. All you need to do is carefully cut along the outline with your plasma cutter.
An alternative method is to clamp the template and workpiece on your worktable and keep the template in place while you cut along its edges. This method is faster, but you need to be more careful that you don’t burn the template.
Keep the torch perpendicular to the workpiece. This method works well for large patterns without intricate designs. A downside of this method is that small shapes and designs on the pattern may have to be hand-cut.
The Bottom Line
A plasma cutter template makes metal art cutting so much easier. There’s no easier and more convenient option than plasma cutting whether you’re doing wall art with thin sheets or a freestanding sculpture with thick metal pieces. However, it’s hard to cut metals without templates, especially if you have to cut the same shapes or designs over and over.
Durable templates made from scrap sheets of metal come handy in that case. However, if you’re new to metal art, it pays to practice with simpler designs before trying complex projects. Since you’re using a plasma cutter, you still need to follow safety precautions.
Further Reading – Best Multi-Process Welder.