Plasma cutting is often seen as less harmful to the eyes than welding. However, depending on the torch you are using, among other factors, it can still be quite damaging to the human eye.
Do you need a welding mask for plasma cutting? Technically, no, you do not. Many people tend to wear goggles when it comes to plasma cutting or even safety glasses that darken. However, if the torch you are using has enough amps to it, then a welding mask would be ideal for safety reasons.
So, while a welding mask isn’t an absolute necessity, in some cases, it can be quite handy. Today, we’ll be taking a look at what exactly you may need a welding mask for, other forms of protection for plasma cutting, and more.
Why Use a Welding Mask?
As I mentioned, there are quite a few reasons why you’d want to use a welding mask for plasma cutting. However, the biggest reason, in my opinion, is simply for the safety it provides.
When it comes to welding and plasma cutting, you can never be too safe. A welding mask will provide you fantastic protection and give you peace of mind, something that other protection cannot.
After all, you only get one pair of eyes.
Also, some plasma torches are much brighter than others. In which case, it’s a good idea to have one, even if you don’t weld.
But let’s be honest, if you are using a plasma torch, you probably know your way around the shop.
What Type of Welding Mask?
There are quite a few different welding masks out there on the market today.
I’d personally recommend that you go with a mask that at least has a shade level of five and go up from there if need be.
The shade level you need all depends on the number of amps that your plasma torch or cutter produces.
- You can try and use a lower shade, but I don’t recommend skimping in this area. I recommend going with 5, as it is the safest route to use for plasma cutting. If you aren’t sure what shade you should go with, many manuals will give out a recommended number. If you can’t find a recommendation in your plasma torch manual, then you can always search the internet to find out.
- Use a helmet that is simple to adjust in terms of the shade settings. I think a helmet is best because it can be used for multiple purposes and you can rely on it for various tasks.
- Certain helmets are auto-darkening as well, which is a keyword that you’ll want to search for when making your selection.
I think when it comes to welding masks, I recommend one that fits your needs in terms of settings and what it can do over a specific brand.
However, certain brands are known for certain qualities. I recommend asking experts in your local shop or finding information online as to which brand has the specific features that you are looking for.
We also have some welding helmet recommendations (look here).
Other Forms of Protection
Of course, though, there are other forms of protection out there available to you for plasma cutting.
However, I will say that they will not offer as much protection as a mask, but some prefer these other forms for various reasons.
One of the most significant alternatives is cutting goggles. People tend to go with this alternative firstly because they are a cheaper alternative to the sometimes quite expensive masks.
They are also much easier to transport as they are lighter and take up less space.
So, if you are traveling quite a bit from various workplaces or aren’t looking to spend the amount that helmets can sometimes run, goggles are a great alternative. However, as I said, they don’t offer as much protection.
In terms of your eyes, they do just fine.
However, when it comes to your facial area, there is nothing there to protect you. Consequently, any injury such as a burn, for example, could put you at much higher risk.
Potential Dangers of Plasma Cutting
As I touched on a bit before, plasma cutting can be quite dangerous. For one, many beginners don’t realize just how quick these machines go if you aren’t going the torch route.
Not only can it be dangerous not to understand the speed that the machine can bring, but it also can mess up your work in a matter of seconds. Small misunderstandings can turn into big mistakes quickly.
Understanding the limits of your cutter is essential as well, as too much stress on the machine can cause you harm, as well as potentially break it.
Lack of understanding will cost you not only a good deal of money but time on the project as well.
Losing on an investment such as a plasma cutter is never fun, so make sure you read up on the limits before beginning any use.
You can generally find this information on the specs, manual, online guides, and so on. Also, certain things require various types of cuts, which is something that you should also be taking into consideration.
Certain materials can be quite hazardous to cut. Perhaps one of the most dangerous out there is stainless steel.
The reason why is because of all of the fumes that are released during this process.
To ensure your safety, you are going to want to make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area before starting.
You also need to make sure that you have a respirator to protect your lungs, even if you are cutting in a well-ventilated area.
Respirators are needed quite often to prevent yourself from taking in any fumes, which can be extremely dangerous to you. Overall, safety is one of the most significant things when it comes to plasma cutting.
You’ll want to make sure that you are well equipped before you begin. If you need to, look up a few Youtube tutorials to increase your base of knowledge before starting.
Something that is sometimes looked over for plasma cutting machines is the maintenance that comes with them.
For example, you’ll want to make sure that you are cleaning your machine correctly, as well as making sure that the supply of air is working efficiently.
Maintenance is something that can easily slip someone’s mind. Mark your calendar or set your phone alarm to remind yourself to clean and test the machine regularly.
Regular maintenance will not only keep you safe but save you money in the long run.
Overall, welding masks are not technically a necessity for plasma cutting.
However, it is something that I do highly recommend that you invest in. Not only will it help keep you safe, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that you are well protected.
Yes, there are a few alternatives out there, such as goggles, but they do not offer as much protection as a mask does.
However, they do come at a lower price, which is one of the more substantial reasons that they are so appealing.
Goggles are also more portable, so if mobility is a factor and you have a lower ampere cutter, it may be worth considering.
Also, there are quite a few dangers to plasma cutting. You should take your time to research more in-depth about if you are a beginner.
Not only is the process dangerous, but there is also more protective equipment out there that you may need to invest in, such as a respirator.