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PLASMA, OXYFUEL AND LASER

Which Cutting Method Is Right For You?
By Kat McQuade

There are many different ways to cut metal using a thermal cutting process. Laser, oxyfuel, and plasma are the three major processes, each viable depending on the cutting needs of the business.

Oxyfuel cutting uses a chemical (exothermic) reaction between the oxygen and the steel to generate sufficient heat to melt the steel which is blown out of the gap by the gases used. It is only used for cutting carbon steel and is typically used to cut plate thicker than 2 inches. Oxyfuel is not effective on stainless steel or aluminum.

Plasma cutting uses a high-temperature, electrically-conductive gas to cut through any material that is electrically conductive. Plasma is suitable for ferrous and non-ferrous material, metal that is in any condition (rusted, painted, grated), and covers thicknesses ranging from gauge to 2 inches.

Laser cutting uses a high power laser beam to heat and then partially melt and vaporise the material. A laser is suitable for all types of metal, although the material surface does need to be in good condition (no rust). Laser is typically used for very thin plate (gauge to 1/4 inch), although it can be used on metals up to an inch thick. To cut thick plate with laser, one would need a high powered laser and a table capable of handling thick plate. . . .

The right one for you