The Importance of Dry Air when Plasma Cutting

by Rapid Welding 7. August 2012 13:50

When operating a Plasma Cutter you need to have dry air. Dry air is important because if moisture is present in the line it will travel with the air and exit the end of the torch. Although not necessarily dangerous, water will change the gas mixture inside the torch and reduce the life of your consumables. Simply put, the arc will follow the moisture in all directions, damaging the electrode and nozzle and affecting the quality of the cut.


Says Rapid’s online expert: “I recently used a compressor with an air dryer and filter and was shocked that the consumables were hardly worn after 4 hours cutting. I would have normally expected to have changed consumables after 2 hours. 


So how does an air compressor actually work?

Firstly, the air we breathe is already compressed to around 14.7 PSI from pressure generated at sea level by the weight of the air above. PSI is a measure of force meaning Pounds per Square Inch.  An Air Compressor takes in this air through an intake port, via a mechanised system, pushing it into a smaller area - usually the air tank on the compressor. As more air is pushed inside, so the pressure too begins to increase.

The air is heated during this process, but once inside the tank it begins to cool and the moisture that is present in the air separates and pools at the bottom of the tank. The system is ongoing: as air exits the tank, so more air is pushed in and more water collects.

Plasma cutting requires a lot of air – unless the cuts made are very short – and so the tank capacity needs to be such that it is able to supply the appropriate CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute). Small compressors won’t have the tank capacity or longer duty cycle of the larger models, and running them continuously will greatly reduce their operating life. 


There are a number of Dryer/Filters on the market designed to keep the air moisture free and clean. Climate and humidity also play a vital part.

·         In very dry conditions there will be little or no moisture to separate from the air so a weekly manual draining will often suffice.

·         In low to medium humidity conditions, or where there is a low level of use, a coalescing or absorbing filter might be installed, such as the Eliminizer, which allows the compressed air to cool slightly as it passes down the line, separating or absorbing the water from the air. Reports on Filter Systems that use a paper filtration medium haven't been so good; the paper can break down, clogging the machine internally and contaminating the stream.  In these humidity conditions it is recommended to manually drain the tank once a day.

·         In high humidity conditions you may want to consider installing an automatic drainer on your compressor or consider – especially during levels of high production – a refrigerated air-dryer.


The bottom line is it all comes down to the amount of work you're doing and the conditions you’re working in. There are many products out there to supplement your requirements, but as machinery doesn’t come cheap it pays to do the research and protect your investment. It is also worth checking the operators manual on your current compressor to check what filters are already installed.

At Rapid, there is a large selection of dryers and filters to view online, and if you are in any doubt as to which is the right product for you, then feel free to contact the team or ask Andy.



A new Era in Welding Training - Launch of the Welding & Fabrication eLearning DVD

by Rapid Welding 2. August 2012 11:45


Within hours of launching the Welding & Fabrication E-Learning DVD Package, Rapid took its first order! 


 Learners can carry out training in a safe environment before entering the workplace.




Rapid Welding is proud to announce the launch of an innovative and modern instruction package from Weldability Sif, consisting of a Welding and Fabrication eLearning DVD which gives learners the opportunity to develop a theoretical understanding of modern welding and cutting processes. This new software – aligned to the National Occupational Standards (NSO), provides a firm foundation from which to progress into further practical learning of welding, cutting and brazing processes, can be used as a support tool whilst taking any number of welding progression pathways,or as a return-to-work memoire.


This exciting new eLearning package is more than just a simple welder training DVD. It provides a comprehensive introduction to all associated skills supporting the welding process.


For Instance, the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) module covers:

  • Health and Safety
  • PPE
  • Safety Signs
  • Control of Hazardous Substances
  • Working at Height
  • Basic First Aid
  • Manual Handling
  • Risk Assessments
  • Fire Protection
  • Electrical Safety
  • Working as a Team
  • Communicating Technical Information



Other modules include Engineering Materials, Metal Fabrication and Cutting and Quality Control, and each module is summarised by an overview and short knowledge test. Once the modules are complete you can apply your newly gained knowledge in a fully interactive 3D workshop where you are given a set of realistic scenarios to experience each welding process.


To view a demo and for more information click:







Tips On Staying Cool At Work

by Rapid Welding 25. July 2012 16:03


So it's hot, finally, and despite our grumblings that the Great British summer was never going to arrive I'm sure there are a few of us - namely those operating heated welding tools under the blue, cloudless sky whilst shrouded in PPE - who wish it would cool down just a tad.

Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone and in some cases can lead to heat stroke. According to the NHS, symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Feeling flushed
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Mental confusion
  • Extreme tierdness
  • Urinating less often/ darker coloured urine  



So for those of you who don't have the luxury of an air conditioned work space to take sanctury in, here are a few tips to help you keep your cool!  

  • Work as early or as late as possible to avoid the mid-day heat.
  • Take regular breaks and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Water isn't the most exciting of drinks, but caffine will have the opposite effect to what you want. Try adding concentrated juice to water to make it more enjoyable.
  • Fact is, you're going to get hot and sweaty and tierd, so eat plenty to keep energy levels up. Try to eat cold foods like salads and foods with a high water content such as fruit.
  • If you are working indoors, try turning off electrical equipment not required for use as these can generate additional heat.
  • Advise workers on heat stress, especially new or young employees.
  • Even when you're not working, take care to avoid sun burn. Use sun cream or cover up and wear a hat.

A person with heat exhaustion should be moved quickly to somewhere cool and given fluids (preferably water) to drink. It is always advisable to seek medical attention.

For more information visit:




Slow Burner or bright Spark - Common Causes of Ignition Associated with Welding

by Rapid Welding 24. July 2012 13:53

I came across this article regarding a recent fire thought to be related to the storage of welding equipment. Fire crews involved believe a welding tool set light to flammable materials and caused a large blaze in a hangar at a former airfield in Lincolnshire. Six fire engines was sent to Manby showground, near Louth, at about 17:00 BST on Monday 9th July. At the height of the blaze the thick plumes of black smoke were tackled by ten fire engines. Police said there had been "small explosions" as a result of the flames, and it is thought there were gas canisters inside the hangar.

   Did stored welding equipment do this?


Combustible materials kept where welding processes are being carried out can give sufficient exposure to heat and oxygen to burn. It’s a warning to professional and hobbyist welders alike to know about potential fire hazards and safe practices, to examine work areas, welding equipment and consumables for hazards, and take appropriate measures to ensure safety.

Common Causes of Ignition Associated with Welding:

·         Slag – droplets of melted metal from a welding operation.

·         Heat conducted through the metal being welded.

·         Welding sparks – have been known to travel as much as 35 feet!

·         The flame or welding arc. E.g. if the torch is dropped or it malfunctions.

The Warren Group

In the case of the fire at Manby, it was reported that the hanger in question was used to store machinery such as old buses and forklifts. Flammable materials like wood, paper, plastics, chemicals, gas and liquids, lint, dust, old rags, even building floors, partitions and ceilings may pose a risk where hot work is being carried out.


Fires can ignite suddenly and violently, but they can also smolder away undetected for hours before flaring up. A clean work area is a must, devoid of clutter, holes, openings etc, where droplets of hot metal can burn away slowly.



"One of the most important fire prevention activities is maintaining a high standard of cleanliness and order." Aviva


Welding on tanks or pipes that have contained flammable liquids or gases - tanks or pipes should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned, then tested for flammable residue before welding begins.


Welding with Acetylene is extremely flammable and hazardous due to its unstable nature – Hampshire Fire & Rescue recommends correct storage of cylinders, testing equipment, and staff training.




Un-serviced, faulty or leaking equipment is a known fire risk.


Lack of training to staff in safety practices during use and when equipment is left unattended, for example, failing to turn all power switches off after use or report defective equipment to supervisors.



You could have nightmares about this sort of thing, but when you read about it in the papers it brings the very real risk home to us all. The bottom line is fire can cause uninsured damage, significant harm and loss of life.

Detailed advice should be sought regarding all aspects of Health and Safety.


Rapid Welding is a highly respected sales and service company and our own service engineers have full factory training. Should you have any queries regarding your products, please contact Rapid via the website or on 02392 214214.






Industry Applications for Plasma Cutting Systems

by Rapid Welding 18. July 2012 09:20

Plasma cutting is an efficient and very accurate method of cutting through metals, first developed to improve speed and accuracy in cutting and joining metal components needed for military vehicles and aircraft. Nowadays, plasma cutting - both manual and machine - can be found in a diverse range of military and commercial industries around the world, the purpose being to achieve the best cut possible in the least amount of time, and at an affordable price. Here is a brief overview of some of the applications for each system.

Manual Systems 

This system involves a moderately small power supply using a  hand-held plasma torch to cut different types of metal. Cutting capability is based on the output amperage of the system. The suitability of the hand-held Plasma Cutter depends on the thickness of the material to be cut, the desired cutting speed, and the environment in which it is to be carried out.



Applications: Manual Plasma Cutting Systems are typically seen in farming industries where on-the-spot repair and maintenance to farm equipment, vehicles and buildings is required.

Field-based construction projects such as bridges, towers, high-rise buildings.

Metal art sculptures and decorative structures are becoming increasingly popular, pushing boundaries in scale and complexity. Hand held systems are commonly seen in the creation of signs, furniture, staircases and other decorative projects.

From glass bottomed pleasure boats to submarine and aircraft carriers, an awful lot of components are needed for each build including hull and keel fabrication, steel decking and motorised components to name but a few.

DIY customisation and professional car repair centres - body work, engines etc.

Demolition and scapping. Debris resizing and seperating.

Colleges teach students the latest technologies to ensure they are equipped with up-to-the-minute skills and know about different fabrication processes.


Machine Systems

Research should be done before selecting  a mechanised Plasma Cutting System. Generally they are much larger than manual systems and are used alongside cutting tables. These systems can be incorporated into punch press, laser cutting and robotic cutting systems. Because of the size, machine Plasma Cutters are not easily relocated, so certain areas need to be considered before a purchase is made:

  • Parts needed to be cut e.g. Size, shape and thickness.
  • Speed and production requirements.
  • Quality of the cut.
  • Overall cost and cost of consumables inc. gas, electricity and labour.
  • Layout of facility in which it is to be used.


Applications: Factory based Plasma Cutters are used to create beams, pipes, sheets and other components for the development of high-rise buildings, towers, fly-overs.

From the manufacture of large components used to build wind-turbines to the maintenance and repair of electricity pylons and fleet vehicles, the Energy industry - including gas, oil, nuclear and wind power, use Plasma Cutting Systems in both construction and on-going repair.

The auto industry uses Plasma Systems on cutting tables and robotic arms to fabricate parts, ensure speed, efficiency, and reduce risk to human workers.

Manufacturing of commercial vehicles e.g. ships, rail cars and trucks.

Metal fabricators requiring superior cut quality and production.





Rapid supply a wide range of manual and machine Plasma Cutters. Please follow the link to browse the website, or alternatively for any in-depth enquiries please contact Andy on 02392 214214 or via the live chat on the website. 

 Rapid also has provided a series of knowledge manuals available to read online for reference.




Just in case you missed it!

by Rapid Welding 10. July 2012 14:28

For all you F1 fanatics and Kemppi Cohorts out there, I have trawled the internet for evidence of the collaboration at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend - just in case they were going too fast for you to see the logo on the rear wing end plate or the heavy rain blurred your view! Despite the weather it was a great weekend of racing, so a shout out to the Williams team and well done everyone who turned out to watch! We salute you! 


In the Pit Lane: 


The Joy of British Weather - Bruno Senna on a rare dry lap:


First Orders for the Hypertherm Powermax 105

by Rapid Welding 28. June 2012 11:00

We are extremely pleased to announce the first order for the new Hypertherm Powermax 105 has been placed by Guernsey based company, Fusion Engineering.   

The New Powermax 105 from Hypertherm replaced the Powermax 1650 in June 2012. It is 3 phase only and is available in 2 voltage models. 400v and 230-400v auto sensing version. These machines work on any electrical supply within Europe and are CE Marked. Recommended cutting capacity is 32mm. Will severance cut to 50mm.

Benefits of the powerful 105 Amp system include:

  • Maximum power and performance.
  • Superior cut & gouge quality equals less time spent on grinding and edge prep.
  • Duty cycle and reliability for the most demanding cutting/gouging jobs.
  • Fast cutting speeds meaning maximum productivity.
  • Smart sense & SpringStarttechnology.
  • Low operating costs.
  • Low maintenence.
  • Detects electrode end-of-life, automatically turning off power to the torch preventing damage.
  • Wide range of uses and applications in the work place.



Another nod to the ISO 9001 Accreditation

by Rapid Welding 27. June 2012 10:37

The ISO 9001 guidance on competence was given a nod at the Annual WJS (Welding & Joining Society) Conference which took place at The Welding Institute in Cambridge at the end of May. According to the article, delegates from the UK, Europe, India and Australia discussed 'The Importance of Welding Advances, Skills and Quality Management' over the two day seminar. Guest speakers examined the challenges faced by the industry: the growing need for - and shortage of - skilled welders alongside the rapidly growing developments in technology, as well as the need for businesses to maintain quality and improve productivity.

There is no use in developing technologies and materials if we cannot develop skills in parallel.’ Steve Jones, Rolls-Royce plc.

Rapid is currently in the process of gaining the ISO 9001 accreditation with LRQA - see blog, 19th June.



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Welding Helmets - How Technology Has Changed The Face Of Welding!

by Rapid Welding 25. June 2012 12:57


                      Vintage?                                                                                                                                   What's on offer today!

               How Times Have Changed!

While on holiday in France - spending a few cultured moments in a local antique shop before the bar opened - I found what I guessed to be a vintage welding helmet. Taking in the cumbersome, somewhat basic looking contraption hanging from the cobweb strewn rafters, I could only marvel at how things have moved on over the years. True, if I had in fact stumbled unknowingly across a little piece of welding history, then I could see how the tinted window and leather shoulder cover might have afforded the wearer a low level of protection from arc eye or flash burn, but with its obvious weight it certainly wouldn't have been all that comfortable to work in.

Fortunately, nowadays, design and comfort sit happily alongside technology and stringent health and safety laws. As welding processes have developed, so too has the technology needed to protect the modern day welder from injury.

 We all need to be safety conscious at work these days, particularly in the construction industry where high levels of risk can be part of everyday life, but with so many different welding helmet solutions on the market you could be forgiven for feeling confused over which product to invest your hard-earned money in. It's a bit like choosing a new shampoo: volume enhancing, smoothing and de-tangling, split-end repairing or moisture boosting products line supermarket shelves, just as welding helmets can now be supplied with auto-darkening lenses, auto-lift mechanisms, arc sensing technology and funky paint jobs - all to meet the varying needs and challenges of on-the-job or in-the-garage welders.


Despite the minefield of choices, a good quality welding helmet that is comfortable, meets important safety standards, allows the wearer to perform their particular job to the best of their ability and fits the budget, is a must.


Rapid has an extensive range of conventional and electronic welding helmets and accessories for you to choose from, depending on your requirements. If you're in the market for headgear but unsure which product is right for you, or if you're just doing some research and need a quote, why not visit the website or have a chat with Rapid's online specialist, Andy, who will be able to answer your questions?

 On a final note, good luck with choosing the right welding helmet for you. Remember, all PPE is susceptible to wear and tear over time and damage, no matter how slight, might compromise the protectiveness it offers. 



Rapid Excellence!

by Rapid Welding 19. June 2012 10:47

Rapid has recently started the process of obtaining an ISO 9001 accreditation with LRQA, a company who have developed a new approach to assessing and improving current management systems and enabling businesses to improve their performance and effectiveness.

As a small business we want to give our customers the best possible service, making dealing with Rapid the obvious first choice every time - we're not just a bunch of pretty faces here you know, we like to do what it says on the tin and then some! At the moment, Rapid's current processes are being mapped with the idea of developing a Quality Management System that will improve our performance even more, ensuring we always meet the needs of our customers and provide the products, service and quality people really want. 

So wish us luck on our journey, and watch out for more blogs and updates on how we're getting along over the coming months.

Till next time.




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