When it comes to an Air Plasma System your air supply is critical. The air must be clean and dry! The cleaner and dryer the better.
You need to ensure that your compressor can supply the needed air. The Hypertherm Powermax 65 requires 400 SCFH or 6.7 SCFM at 85 psi or 5.6 Bar. The compressor that we have is a Kobalt 80 Gallon 4.5 HP with a output capacity of 14 SCFM at 90 PSI. This gives us about double the air output that we need.
We also installed a second 80 gallon tank in the system to give us a 160 gallon reserve capacity. The compressor comes on at 110 PSI and shuts off at 160 psi.
With this setup we have plenty of air supply to keep the plasma unit running for long continuous cuts.
Once quantity is taken care of we need to worry about the quality of air that we are delivering. The cooler, cleaner and dryer you can get your air the better your cuts will be.
Lucky for us here in AZ we have pretty low humidity most of the year. Unfortunately we have fairly high ambient air temps most of the year.
We did a few things to ensure our air is clean and dry and cool as possible. When the air leaves the compressor its pretty hot from the compression. Its much easier to extract moisture from cool air vs. hot air. So the air goes into a cooling tube that is filled with ice . This then goes through the first filter which removes oils and particulate matter. The air then enters a moisture removal filter. The air then travels into the shop where it undergoes its final filtering. Air first enters the water separator where moisture and impurities down to 5 micron are collected. Air then enters the air regulator where air pressure is adjusted from 0-150 psi by simply turning the tee handle. Finally, filtered, regulated air enters the coalescing air filter for final removal of moisture, oil and impurities down to .01 micron. From here it goes out on the individual air lines to the individual tools and the plasma unit.
The Powermax 65 has a built in filter on the back of the unit which should not have to do any filtering if all the previous filters did their job.
This is a low budget filtering option which in our climate / humidity works great for us. If you have more humidity you may want to look at getting a refrigerated air dryer. They do a great job a removing moisture from the air.
The downfall is that they are fairly expensive and they require power, and are fairly large are full of moving parts and can break down.
I have heard good reviews of the Harbor Freight air dryer.
This is our Air Compressor enclosure which has sound proofing and a squirrel cage exhaust fan to keep the compressor cool.
This is the first dryer / filter is a 3405-60 Coalescing air filter I have an air pressure gauge to keep the air regulated before it goes out into the shop.
This is the second 80 gallon tank that is installed in the system. This gives us great reserve capacity. And minimizes run time during cutting.
This is the secondary filter system. The air enters the first water separator then goes to the air regulator. We keep the air pressure set at 100 psi.
Air then enters the final 3405-60 Coalescing air filter.
The air then enters the distribution system for the shop.
This system was very simple and inexpensive to put together. While this system works great for us it may not be the perfect solution for everyone or every system.