The success of your business depends on the choice of the right cutting equipment that will not only result in process efficiency but also time savings and cost efficiency which will ultimately result in a profitable bottom-line.
Plasma cutting as we know was developed in the 50s to cut metals such as aluminium, steel and copper that could not be cut using flame cutting. Plasma cutting is essentially the process where compressed air, oxygen and inert gases like argon, nitrogen or hydrogen are passed through a nozzle. The gas travels at very high pressure and speed, and turns into plasma which is basically electrically conductive ionized gas. The energy is so highly concentrated in the plasma, that it has the capability of cutting through metal.
Laser machines came into existence in the 60s and were developed to cut holes in diamond dies. Later, they were used in the aerospace industry for cutting titanium. Ever since, the use of laser technology has permeated into various industries. Laser cutting uses high power laser that is directed by a computer along with oxygen, nitrogen or compressed air to melt, burn or vaporize the material. Laser cutting is very precise as it uses a focused beam of laser light to cut metals. Laser cutting using carbon dioxide gas is usually used to engrave metals while metals are cut by using more powerful lasers.
Differences Between Plasma and Laser Cutting Technology
- Plasma cutting is used exclusively for cutting metals, including metals that have reflective surfaces, while this is not possible with laser cutting. Laser cutting is used for processes such as cutting, drilling, welding, engraving, ablation and structuring.
- Laser cutting can be used to cut very thin to medium thickness flat steel sheets, whereas plasma can be used to cut sheet metal and plate metals that are quite thick.
- Plasma cutters are much cheaper and affordable compared to high-end laser cutters.
- Plasma cutters have a smaller kerf width whereas lasers have a higher processing tolerance.
- Carbon dioxide laser cutters use light for cutting, while plasma cutters use gas as a medium for cutting.
- You need to wear glasses when cutting with plasma to protect your eyes from radiation.
In conclusion, both plasma and laser cutters have their own advantages and specialized area of work and each one is beneficial in its own way. “One size fits all” is not the method to follow when selecting a cutting system for your business. The choice of an appropriate cutting system depends solely on the applications and your individual business needs.