Choosing the best cutting system for your business needs can be quite a difficult decision when you are faced with various options. Evaluating various criteria before making a purchase decision is a very important task.
Some Factors to Consider When Buying a CNC Cutting System
A high-quality CNC plasma cutting machine is less expensive and more affordable than laser or waterjet cutting machines. Waterjet cutting machines require additional components such as an ultra-high pressure intensifier pump though do offer very fine levels of details if required. Escco are always happy to advise, so feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to guide you through choosing the CNC table that is most suited to your needs.
Lower Operating Cost
CNC plasma cutting machines are much cheaper to operate when compared to laser or waterjet cutting machines. Also, the power usage, regular maintenance cost, plasma operating costs, cost of gases, consumables etc. of plasma cutters are around ½ of a waterjet machine and ¾ of a laser machine’s operating costs.
Production rate is another very important aspect. There are many factors that influence the speed of production; however, the speed of plasma is the fastest. A plasma machine can cut several materials at a rate of 60-200 inches per minute, whereas laser cutting is much slower on most thicknesses, ranging from 20-70 inches per minute.
Cut Edge Quality
Cut edge is usually referred to the “squareness” of the finished edge as well as how much dross is left behind at the bottom of the cut. A waterjet cutting machine usually produces the highest quality of cut with a very square cut and no dross. Laser also produces a very square cut. However, on stainless steel or thicker mild steel, it may leave some dross.
Precision of the Cut Part
Cut part precision is usually the part size which is a result of the cutting process when compared to the programmed part size. It also takes into consideration the kerf width, which defines how small of an inside contour can be cut as well as the heat distortion. Waterjet machines deliver the best precision and also do not cause any heat distortion. Laser is quite close to waterjet when it comes to precision, however laser can cause some distortion, especially if the plate is thicker.
Waterjet cutting is the most flexible of all three methods of cutting as it can cut almost any material. Laser cutting is limited to only certain materials such as metals, fiberglass, plastics and some fabrics. Plasma cutting machines are more limited and can only cut conductive metals, stainless steel, mild steel and aluminium.
As we can see plasma cutting machines are superior to waterjet and laser cutting machines in some ways and in other cases waterjet cutting machines may be better than plasma cutters. Deciding on the cutting machine that is right for your business depends on the aforementioned factors and ultimately you need to figure out which is the best option that is cost effective and that will make your business profitable in the long run.