The Xiris Blog

Watching a 1,000,000 Watt Plasma Arc!

Posted by Justin Grahn on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 01:17 PM

Usually Xiris Weld cameras are used to monitor open weld arcs of many kinds of processes, including plasma welding processes, where the power settings are usually in the range of a few hundred Watts of power.

So imagine when presented with the challenge of monitoring a one million Watt plasma arc! This is exactly what Xiris was asked to do – mount a camera to see such a powerful arc as part of an industrial process. We were not sure how well the camera would respond to the plasma arc as it was so hot and generated such intense bright light that even the dynamic range of the XVC-1000 weld camera may not be sufficient to properly image it.

When setting up the camera, we had to mount the camera far away from the plasma arc, at about 6 ft. (2 m) away, while monitor the entire process in a completely different room. The plasma arc was so powerful that our camera would shake when the arc was activated. Even from a protected room, the noise that the plasma arc generated seemed like standing next to a jet engine.

We were happy to discover that, even with such a powerful light source, the Xiris XVC-1000 weld camera was able to capture clear images of the high-powered plasma arc. The images were good enough to see sufficient detail in the arc for research staff to analyze the behavior of the return arc remotely, without having to be close enough to the plasma source to create hazardous work conditions.

2018_2_27 - Watching a 1,000,000 Watt Plasma Arc

An Actual Image of a 1,000,000 Watt Plasma Arc!


Topics: weld camera, weld monitoring, Plasma

Seeing Detail in Plasma Cutting and Welding Processes

Posted by Justin Grahn on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 @ 03:25 PM

Using a Xiris high dynamic range Weld Camera to see the detail of a Plasma Cutting or Welding process can provide more information for the operator than was ever possible before. With a huge dynamic range of imaging possible, the camera can acquire a clear view of the super bright plasma arc as well as its immediate background. Details, such as the smoothness of the cutting line and the form of the melted material kerf left after the plasma, are easily observed. With this type of image available from a Xiris Weld Camera, operators are able to better control the plasma process with images generated such as the following:



View of the Plasma Arc, Cutting line and Melted Kerf


In addition to providing clearer details, the Weld Camera can also be used as a process research tool to study the plasma torch to determine how well the gas and electric charges are being transmitted from the electrode and nozzle to the workpiece.

To understand how the Xiris XVC-1000 Weld Camera can be used as a process research tool, first some background of the basic principle of how a plasma torch is used to superheat gas:

A plasma arc begins by initiating a high frequency electric charge in an electrode, negative in charge relative to the workpiece to be cut or welded. The electrode itself sits inside a head through which a mixture of gasses is injected around the electrode and out through a nozzle. The gas used is usually a mixture of common gasses such as oxygen, nitrogen and other trace elements. The gas becomes ionized and turns into plasma as it travels over the highly charged electrode, creating a conductive path between the electrode and the workpiece. This ionization allows an electric arc to jump between the electrode and workpiece, much like a bolt of lightning. The gas comes out of the orifice in a high speed vortex, swelling as it exits the orifice, which allows it to be very well controlled so that the flow can be tightly focused or confined on a particular spot. Once focused, the plasma melts or erodes the workpiece to perform the cutting or welding process of the material.


April_14__The_Plasma_ProcessThe Plasma Process

(courtesy of


When using the Xiris XVC-1000 weld camera, Area of Interest (AOI) imaging can be used to view only a portion of the screen, but at much higher frame rates. If the frame rate gets high enough, it is possible to see some of the flow of the electric arc and plasma/gas to and from the substrate. Such imaging capability can provide information about: how well the Plasma arc is controlled into a beam, the rate at which the gas is moving in a vortex as it exits the nozzle, the forming of the plasma, and other parameters.



The Xiris XVC Weld Camera is a powerful tool to image Plasma welding and cutting applications. Beyond monitoring the Plasma process for quality control, the XVC-1000 can also provide valuable process details; key for research into better Plasma cutting and welding techniques.

Topics: welding, Plasma, cutting

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