Plasma Cutting & Hexavalent Chromium [Infographic]

Plasma Cutting & Hexavalent Chromium [Infographic]

This infographic looks at the hidden dangers of plasma cutting and laser cutting. One of the biggest dangers associated with these is hexavalent chromium when cutting stainless steel. It can pose many health risks and proper precautions should be taken to avoid the risks associated with it.

Infographic of Plasma Cutting and Hexavalent Chromium

Plasma cutting has become common in the industry today. It is ideal for applications requiring precision cuts. What many people do not understand are the dangers that can arise from a plasma table.

How Does It Work?

An electric arc is sent through a restricted opening, heating the gas to an extreme temperature. This energy breaks apart gas molecules and creates plasma. When loose electrons collide they release enough energy to cut through the metal. See more info on basic plasma cutting.

A surface layer of anti-corrosive chromium covers many metals. This chromium keeps stainless steel strong and makes it more resistant to corrosion. It is not dangerous to humans. However, hot work such as plasma cutting changes the nature of chromium. When that much heat is applied to chromium, it oxidizes and converts the chromium to a hexavalent state. Hexavalent chromium, or Cr VI, can be extremely dangerous.

Why Is Hexavalent Chromium Dangerous?

Cr VI enters the body through inhalation or direct skin contact. Because it is water-soluble, it can easily pass through cell membranes. Inside the cells, Cr VI attacks DNA, proteins, and membrane lipids, breaking them down. This disrupts cellular integrity and functions, shutting down the cell.

Once the hexavalent chromium begins to break down cells, it can cause various health problems. This includes respiratory issues, eye irritation, skin effects, and even cancer.

Is PPE Enough Protection from Hexavalent Chromium?

Elimination – The best line of defense when dealing with a workplace hazard is to eliminate the source. While this may work in some cases, hexavalent chromium can only be eliminated if plasma cutting is also done away with. Plasma tables are too crucial to most operations for this to take place.

Engineering Controls – The next best option for dealing with hexavalent chromium is to put engineering controls in place that will get rid of as much of the hazard as possible. These controls can include exhaust fans, fume hoods, and paint booths.

Administrative Controls – Administrative controls deal with any practices put in place to work safer. This may mean training all employees working with Cr VI how to work in a way that is better for their health.

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE is the least preferred method of protection. This puts health and safety into the hands of individual employees. So, any employee that does not like or forgets to wear equipment is put at risk.

Breathe Better, Work Safer

The Imperial Systems CMAXX Laser is the perfect engineering control for this type of application. It is designed specifically to take on tough laser, plasma, and thermal applications. This modular system connects directly to the cutting table, using minimal ductwork. Additionally, it comes completely wired from the factory, making it as easy as plugging it in and pushing Start.


  • Factory pre-wired
  • Tool-free filter access
  • 3/16” and 10 gauge carbon steel construction
  • DeltaMAXX filters
  • Includes control panel
  • Built-in spark trap
  • Custom configuration to fit your location
  • Fan silencer
  • Optional integrated HEPA filter
  • Easy clean-out dust drawers


Read more about this issue and about how the CMAXX Laser can help you in the white paper.

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The Interview with ANDY KING

The Interview with ANDY KING

Q: You’ve been here at Imperial Systems pretty much since the beginning, right?

A: I started when we were still over in Grove City. Me, Russ, and Steve are the three still left from that original crew. I’ve been here twelve years. I started off doing welding and then did fabrication, and did a little bit of everything. In the past year I’ve been doing a lot of field work and traveling.


Q: How has the company grown since you started?

A: It’s grown like crazy. When I was in Grove City and we were moving to the Jackson Center place, I’d work ten-hour days all week and then go with Russ to Jackson Center and work on the new place. And it didn’t take long before we started to outgrow that.


Q: What do you think about the new building?

A: It was totally necessary for us to be able to grow. We’re already just about full. Since we moved in back in January things are starting to get settled in and they’re running a lot smoother.


Q: How much more do you see us growing?

A: The way things are growing I could see us outgrowing this building someday. We keep getting more and more orders for equipment.


Q: What are your favorite things to do here, since you do some of everything?

A: I like running the plasma table, and I like doing fitting and welding. I run the forklift, and now I do a lot of field work so I’m off traveling around a lot. You get to see some interesting things out there.


Q: What would you tell people about working here?

A: We have a lot of fun working here. Maybe a little too much sometimes. It’s a really good bunch of guys.


Q: And you’re still happy working here after twelve years?

A: Absolutely. It hasn’t been perfectly smooth sailing for the entire twelve years and we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s a great place to work.

Andy and his tractors

Q: And when you’re not here, you’re at your farm.

A: That’s right. My dad’s the third generation and I’m the fourth generation on that farm. I’ve worked there since I was a kid. We didn’t have sitters… we just went to the farm. If I’m not at work, that’s where I am.


Q: And you’ve got a lot going on there right now with all the baby goats, right?

A: We had triplets the other day. We’re bottle feeding one of them. We had eleven babies out of the five goats I bought on my last trip.


Q: What are you going to do with all these goats?

A: They’re meat goats, Boer goats. They originated in Africa. They can get up to 200 pounds. There’s a big demand for goat meat in some places.


Q: How many goats do you plan on having?

A: My dad and I are still talking about that one. A lot, I know that. My oldest kid, my nine-year-old, is starting 4H this year. He’s got two goats. The younger ones will start here pretty soon.


Q: So you’ve got ducks, chickens, horses, cows, goats, pigs…

A: And my dog, Molly. She’s a chocolate lab. She’s my farm dog. She minds me and no one else, and I love it.


Q: And you’ve got your tractors.

A: I’m into the Mercer County Antique Power Association, antique farm equipment, antique tractor pulls. I have a tattoo of my first tractor. Took a picture of it and took it in to them.


Q: So you’re passing on the farming tradition to the fifth generation?

A: Of course I am!

Andy's Goats


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