What is Plasma Transferred Arc Welding?

There are many different processes and procedures of welding, and among the best is plasma transferred arc welding.

For the benefit of those who don’t know, plasma transferred arc welding, more commonly known as PTA welding, is a hardfacing process of high-quality metallurgy depositions on the surfaces of parts and components.

PTA welding is done for a wide variety of reasons including:

  • Extension of the service life of parts and components
  • Protection against thermal shock, abrasion, corrosion, and other types of wear
  • Improvement and development of strength and durability
  • And many more!

Now that you know what is plasma transferred arc welding, it’s imperative that you’re aware of everything that goes and revolves around it, too.

What is Plasma in Plasma Arc Welding?

The plasma in any of the plasma welding processes is the gas that is forced to through the nozzle.

what is plasma in plasma arc welding
Image of thermal plasma in plasma arc welding

It’s the gas that makes the arc narrower and controls it – without it, the gas could scatter and it can cause danger, accidents, and gas leakage.

Thermal plasma is comprised of gaseous atoms’ ions as well as free electrons. By theory, the temperatures of thermal plasma can reach up to a temperature that wouldn’t be lesser than 30,000 degrees Celsius.

What Plasma Forming Gases Can You Use in Plasma Transferred Arc Welding?

You can use a myriad of gases, such as argon, nitrogen, and hydrogen to continuously and consistently pump through the gas chamber.

NOTE: You can use it regardless of the plasma torch you’re using. An electric arc is also what provides the heat for the plasma to form and to be produced.

Does Arc Welder Use Plasma?

Yes, as a matter of fact, all plasma welding processes use an arc – whether it’s a non-transferred or a transferred arc.

does arc welder use plasma
Image of a welder performing arc welding

Even in SAW or submerged arc welding, it has an arc, and it is what you use to melt the material, joining them together.

Difference Between Transferred and Non-Transferred Plasma Arc Welding

Needless to say, the differences are with how the material is joined in and processed.

difference between transferred and non transferred plasma arc welding
Non-transferred plasma arc welding procedure

But, to what extent are they different?

Plasma Transferred Arc (PTA) Welding Plasma Arc (PAW) Welding
The workpiece is anode, but the nozzle is neutral. The workpiece is neutral, but the nozzle made anode.
Electric arc is constituted between the workpiece and the working electrode. Here, the electric arc is made part of the nozzle and the electrode, the same arc is used continuously.
Recommended to be used for welding, machining, cutting, hardfacing, etc. Recommended to be used for ore processing, spheroidizing, spray flaming, etc.
Also known as “Direct Arc Plasma Torch.” Known as “Indirect Arc Plasma Torch.”

These are some of the major differences between plasma transferred arc welding and direct arc plasma torch welding.

What is Plasma Transferred Arc Welding Used For?

You can find use for plasma transferred arc welding in machining processes.

Furthermore, you can use it for cutting, welding, hardfacing, overlaying, spraying, remelting, and the like.

Unlike several types of welding processes, plasma transferred arc welding or PTA welding is a versatile procedure.

Plasma Arc Welding (PAW) vs. Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) Welding

Plasma arc welding or PAW is just an extensive version of TIG or tungsten inert gas welding.

plasma arc welding (paw) vs. tig welding
Image of tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding over stainless steel

You can consider it as a level higher than TIG as plasma welding utilizes tungsten electrodes. The only main difference between transferred and non-transferred plasma arc welding and TIG welding is that the former allows the welder to position the electrode within the torch’s body.

This allows the plasma arc to be separated from the shielding gas.

What is the Temperature of Arc Needed For Arc Welding?

Since it’s a procedure that is used for its flexibility and versatility, you would need intense heat that’s around 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit or 3,594 degrees Celsius to perform the weld.

Plasma Arc Welding Advantages and Disadvantages

If you still can’t decide whether or not plasma arc welding is for you, you need to know about these pros and cons:

Advantages of Plasma Arc Welding

Here are some of the pros or the benefits of using plasma arc welding:

  • More and better stability for the welding process
  • Higher intensity of power
  • Heat zone is just a small area or a small space
  • Faster and higher welding speed
  • You can use it to work on the lowest of amperages
  • Distance of the workpiece and the tool wouldn’t affect the formation of the arc
  • Higher energy for welding – which is better for welding thicker and larger workpeices

Disadvantage of Plasma Arc Welding

When it comes to drawbacks, there are some that you need to consider. The disadvantages or the drawbacks of plasma arc welding or paw include:

  • More costly and higher cost of maintenance
  • Noisier operations
  • Subject to more radiation
  • Equipment and parts are pricier and more expensive
  • Higher skill or labor required

As you can see, there are a couple of drawbacks and cons of using plasma arc welding. But, the pros clearly outweigh the cons!

What is a Plasma Welding Machine?

Plasma welding machines are the machines that you use for both plasma transferred and non-transferred arc welding.

The function of plasma welding machines is by melting the areas of workpieces using high-temperature and high-velocity gases (plasma) to perform the weld.

Other than welding, you can also use plasma transferred arc welding to cut, part, slice, and form shapes in workpieces, too!

You can also use it for another procedure as well, which is…

Plasma Transferred Arc Coating

Plasma transferred arc (PTA) coating is a process that you can use to develop or to improve the physical and the surface properties of parts and components of some machines and equipment.

If you’re looking for extreme levels of wear resistance or if you want to improve a surface’s corrosion and abrasion resistance, you can use the PTA welding process to coat your part or your component’s surface.

What Would the PTA Machine or System Consist Of?

Different plasma welding machines have different parts and components.

valve plasma spray machine
Image of what a plasma transferred arc (PTA) welding machine looks like

However, the parts that would never be left out are:


The electrode or the welding electrode is the part or the component that you use to join or combine the pieces together.

You can choose from electrodes that are consumable and non-consumable – non-consumable ones being tungsten, among others.

Plasma Nozzle

A plasma nozzle is a type of nozzle responsible for the constriction of the gas stream.

More often than not, the plasma nozzle is usually copper.

Powder Feed Nozzle

It’s the nozzle that you use to inject powdered electrodes into the workpiece. Furthermore, it has characteristics of being able to glue workpieces and materials together.

Ballast Resistor

The ballast resistor is a part of the circuit that helps and assists in increasing or heightening the resistance as the current is reduced or decreased.

Power Source and Power Supply

The machine or the equipment wouldn’t be functional if it didn’t have the power source and the power supply, right?

Power sources are sources that have energy to produce electricity – or energy to make the machine work. The power supply is the part or the component that links the power source to the electrical component, making it have power.

Gas Console

A gas console is a component that is responsible for the controlling of gas pressures. You use it to have full control over the pressure of plasma transmitted to the workpiece.

Water Chiller

From its term alone, you already know that the water or liquid chiller functions as a type of heat removal medium, as it transfers the heat (from the machine or the electrical unit) to another place or location to avoid overheating.

These are the most customary parts and components you can get from plasma arc welding machines and equipment.

How Much is a Plasma Cutting Machine?

Of course, the rates and the prices of machinery and equipment will vary. It will depend on quite a few factors, and they include the size, the type, the features, as well as the functionalities of the machine.

The range of price can go a staggering range of $15,000 and $300,000 on initial investment.

What Two (2) Methods are Used to Start a Plasma Cutting Arc?

The method or the process of starting the arc depends on the machine’s age and environment.

what two methods are used to start a plasma cutting arc
High-Frequency (HF) initiation to start the cutter

But, the 2 most-known methods and processes are: High- Frequency (HF) Method and Internal Contact Start (Pilot Start).

 In the HF method, both the nozzle and the electrode are in a fixed position and the arc fills in the gap from the workpiece and the nozzle.

Using the discharge transmitted to the torch, it creates a short spark, which then ionizes the gas through the torch.

With the Touch Start or the Pilot Start, however, you can cut the workpiece without touching the tip of the welder to the metal.

Can You Improve the Quality of Plasma Cutting?

There are several processes and tips you can do to improve the quality of the cut – they include:

  • Top edge rounding
  • Positive and negative cut angle
  • Top spatters

Different Applications of PTA Welding

Thanks to the versatility and the flexibility of the PTA welding method, you can find a lot of uses for the plasma transferred arc welding.

However, the most customary uses of it include:

  • Protection of parts and components via coating
  • Hardfacing machines and equipment
  • Welding 2 or more pieces of metal and steel together
  • Cutting and slicing through multiple workpieces
  • And many more!

Many industries find PTA welding their go-to option because of the pros and the benefits that it has over other types and kinds of welding procedures.

How Accurate is Plasma Cutting?

You might be thinking what makes plasma welding the favorite choice and option for cutting and for other welding procedures.

Well, in most plasma cutting and welding machines, the high-accuracy and high-precision system can help and assist you to have accuracies that range between ± 0.01 and 0.05 inches.

How Thick Can a Plasma Welding Cut?

You can expect plasma cutters to perform gouging and cutting operations to maximum metal thicknesses of about one (1) full inch.

However, you can go higher and thicker than that, given that you are equipped with the right sets of tools, experience, and materials.

Which Company Can You Trust With Transferred Arc Welding?

Out of all the companies and the organizations capable of helping you with the plasma transferred arc welding procedure, Waldun will be your best choice and option.

For more than a decade, Waldun has been providing high-quality wear and welding solutions to businesses and companies from all around the world.

With a heap of knowledge and skill in the welding and wear plate products and services, you can find your best go-to option for PTA welding.

  • Waldun is equipped with an R&D team to help you with custom transferred arc welding processes
  • We don’t have an MoQ – you can be flexible with your orders
  • We offer and provide multiple welding, cutting, and hardfacing services
  • We’re able to produce more than 100 machines in a year
  • We possess certifications and licenses that are approved in Europe, North and South America, Australia, Africa, and many more around the globe.

With Waldun, you will never have a bad time. In case you’re asking what is plasma transferred arc welding, you can contact us and we’ll be more than glad and happy to help you.

Purchase plasma transferred arc welding machines, equipment, and take our services of PTA welding and be amazed at the quality of our work.

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