IGBT in plasma cutters – What is it actually?

Summary if you want to know quickly:

Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor ( IGBT ) technology is an advanced semiconductor device technology used in various types of power tools and power conversion applications. In plasma cutters, IGBT technology is particularly important because it increases the efficiency of the equipment and allows precise control of the cutting processes. Plasma cutters work by creating an electric arc that heats a gas into a plasma hot enough to melt and cut metals and other materials. IGBT technology allows plasma cutters to precisely control the voltage and current of the arc while minimizing the heat delivered to the materials. This provides more precise, cleaner cuts, reducing wear on consumable parts while increasing the speed of the cutting process. In addition, IGBT-based plasma cutters offer greater tolerance to voltage fluctuations, which improves reliability and equipment life. Ultimately, IGBT technology enables better control of cutting performance, resulting in higher quality and efficiency for professional users and DIYers.

Basics of IGBT technology

The IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) is a semiconductor device that combines the characteristics of MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors) and bipolar transistors. IGBTs are widely used in power electronics applications because they are capable of switching large currents at high voltage and have a low voltage drop. The device consists of four layers and three terminals, namely gate, collector and emitter. Control is provided by the gate, and the voltage across the gate determines the current flowing through the transistor.

Functionality and advantages of IGBT compared to conventional transistors

The operation and advantages of IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) compared to conventional transistors lies in the combination of MOSFET and bipolar transistor technologies, which enables high switching speed and good current carrying capacity. IGBTs have both the advantages of low control voltages and fast switching times of a MOSFET, and the high forward current capability and low losses of a bipolar transistor. This makes them ideal for applications where high switching frequencies, large voltages and currents are required, such as in motor controls, inverters and plasma cutters. IGBTs also have lower switching losses and better thermal stability, resulting in more efficient power transfer and longer life.

Advantages of IGBT technology for plasma cutting processes

  • More precise control and higher cut quality
  • Ability to be used at higher current levels and greater material thicknesses


  • Somewhat higher cost
  • More susceptible to thermal overload. Overheat more quickly.
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