When it comes to operating efficiently, there are many variables that can be used alone or together to improve the bottom line.

Using a top-quality plasma cutting machine from AKS Cutting Systems offers several advantages, especially when paired with Hypertherm ProNest software and when preventive maintenance is performed at recommended intervals.

Another area in which costs can be reduced – and profits increased – is ensuring materials are being used efficiently. Here are a few strategies that can create significant savings.

Reducing Scrap Clearance for Thicker Cuts

When working with thicker material, the default scrap clearance value often is more than what is actually necessary. For example, in the case of a ¾” thick steel plate the scrap clearance between each part can be reduced by half. This can add up for a large plate, resulting in more parts being cut per plate and reducing the total number of plates used.

This tactic only applies to plates that are ½” thick or more, as clearance amounts are already minimal for thinner plates.


ProNest software includes a pre-piercing option that also can be used to reduce scrap clearance. With thicker material, after piercing, a ring of molten steel typically forms around each hole and then hardens. That ring can interfere with subsequent cuts. To eliminate this problem and enable scrap clearance to be reduced, an operator can pierce all the holes for the plate, then use the scraper to remove those hardened rings. After this step, the plate is ready for cutting.

Common-Line Cutting

When possible, use Hypertherm ProNest exclusive Common-Line Cutting to maximize efficiency and reduce scrap. Parts with 90-degree corners or straight edges often can be placed right next to each other so that one cut can be used to create an edge for both parts at the same time. Making fewer cuts results in less wear and tear on the machine, in addition to fitting more parts per plate.

Removing Scrap Quickly

Handling scrap smartly can bring measurable cost savings. The faster scrap leaves the facility, the less money that’s wasted by paying for an operator to handle the scrap multiple times.

Break down scrap skeletons quickly with a hand-held plasma or oxy-fuel torch (such as a Powermax45, 85 or 90, depending on the material). This process takes less time, eliminates unnecessary cutting machine use, and doesn’t waste plasma consumables on scrap.

Or use Hypertherm ProNest Skeleton Cut-Up feature to cut the skeleton into easily handled pieces that can manually be removed from the table.

Another option is to use a forklift to grab and smash the skeletons into manageable pieces. The key is not to focus on the material itself, but to prioritize the speed of material handling.

Sorting Scrap Correctly

Once the skeletons are cut into pieces that can be easily handled, get them out the door and sorted for recycling. Rates for scrap recycling aren’t high to begin with, but turning in a contaminated load will result in an even lower return. Make sure every piece is sorted correctly to get the maximum return.

Contact AKS Cutting Systems to learn more about efficient machine operation.