Oxyfuel cutting is the preferred technology which is quite often used for cutting steel. However, in recent years, plasma cutting technology has grown by leaps and bounds. The swift growth of technology has made plasma cutting more viable and a popular means of cutting in several industries and in many applications.
Advantages of Plasma Cutting
Cutting Speed: More than 90 percent of the metal that is cut using plasma cutting is lesser than 25 mm thick and plasma cutting has a distinct speed advantage over oxyfuel cutting in this thickness range. Plasma cutting is two times faster than oxyfuel cutting and as the thickness decreases the cutting speeds increase such that plasma cutting can be almost 12 times quicker than oxyfuel cutting. Increased speeds means that you can cut more parts in lesser time, thereby increasing productivity.
Speed of Piercing: For several kinds of applications internal piercing is required. In the case of oxyfuel cutting, steel of 15 mm thickness can be cut in 30 seconds as the metal requires pre-heating to around 1000°C. On the contrary, plasma takes less than 2 seconds to pierce metal of the same thickness. This helps in increasing productivity immensely.
Improved Cut Quality: When choosing a cutting system, not only is cutting speed important, another vital aspect is the cut quality. The cut quality that is achieved using plasma is far superior to oxyfuel cutting, as it produces less dross and the dross that may be produced can be removed very easily. It is not very difficult to master the plasma cutting process and plasma cutting also produces high quality results. When using plasma cutting, you are not faced with the problem of plate warping which is an issue when using oxyfuel cutting. Modern plasma cutting systems can be controlled easily and are quite easy to handle. They also allow excellent visibility of the part that you are cutting.
Versatility: Many operations require cutting of a lot of different kinds of materials. As plasma cutting is a process that uses the electric arc for cutting, it is easier to cut electrically conductive metals such as mild steel, copper, aluminium, stainless steel, etc. Furthermore, plasma cutting can be used to cut a stack of plates. All these things are not possible using oxyfuel cutting. Hence, plasma cutting is extremely versatile.
Safety: Oxyfuel cutting is associated with many hazards due to the use of pressurised flammable gas and open flame. Special care must be taken during transportation of these gases and the insurance costs are also quite expensive for oxyfuel cutting setups. Conversely, all these dangers are completely eliminated in the case of plasma cutting and there are no extra costs involved as plasma cutting requires neither a flammable gas nor flame for the process of cutting. During plasma cutting, the heat that is produced is also more concentrated, reducing the dangers associated with hot metals that are produced while cutting.
Reduced Cutting Costs: Plasma cutting can help businesses become more profitable due to cutting speeds that are faster, enhanced cut quality, greater productivity, lesser rework and improved versatility, all of which reduce costs significantly.
Finally, plasma cutting has several advantages that make it a superior cutting technology. Over the years, plasma cutting technology has advanced phenomenally bringing down the costs considerably, increasing quality, and becoming more easy to use. It is not surprising that many users are turning to plasma cutting for all their cutting needs.
However, you must evaluate your business needs against the benefits offered by each cutting technology before deciding on which is best to meet your business requirements and objectives.