If you are looking for a tool for repair and maintenance work, for cutting jobs in your fabrication unit, or you are on the lookout for a cutting machine to replace your mechanical saw, then you could definitely consider investing in a plasma cutting machine.
Understanding Plasma Cutting
The plasma cutting process makes use of an ionised jet of gas at a very high speed that is passed through a tiny orifice in the nozzle of the plasma torch. The plasma jet conducts electricity which passes from the plasma torch to the material and heats it to a very high temperature. The molten metal is blown away by the ionised gas and is cut.
Plasma Cutting vs Oxyfuel Cutting
Plasma cutting can be used for cutting any conductive metal such as stainless steel, aluminium and mild steel while oxyfuel cutting cuts by oxidising or burning the metal and hence, oxyfuel cutting is limited to cutting ferrous metals and steel that supports oxidisation. Metals such as stainless-steel, aluminium, etc. form an oxide that stops further oxidisation and so cannot be cut using the oxyfuel cutting method. Plasma cutting does not depend on oxidisation to cut and so can be used to cut stainless-steel, aluminium and other conductive metals.
Plasma cutting can be done using different types of gases; however, compressed air is commonly used as a plasma gas and plasma cutting does not require compressed oxygen and fuel gas for the cutting process.
Plasma cutting is very easy, does not require any training and plasma cutting is faster in thinner materials. Nevertheless, when you are cutting steel plates of 1-inch or thicker, oxyfuel cutting is a more preferred method as it is faster for such heavy plate cutting applications, while plasma cutting needs very high capacity power supplies.
What Can You Use Plasma Cutting For?
The plasma cutting process is ideal for cutting non-ferrous metals and steel that are lesser than 1-inch thickness. While for oxyfuel cutting, the operator needs to control the cutting speed carefully in order to maintain the oxidising process, whereas this is not required in plasma cutting. Also, plasma cutting is a better process for certain jobs such as expanded metal cutting which is practically impossible with oxyfuel cutting. Plasma cutting is also much faster than oxyfuel, especially when you are using it for non-linear cutting.
Limitations of Plasma Cutting
Plasma cutting systems are more expensive compared to oxyfuel cutting equipment, while oxyfuel cutting does not require compressed air or electrical power, which may make it a convenient option for certain users. Also, when it comes to cutting thicker steel sheets, oxyfuel cutting is faster compared to plasma cutting.
Today, plasma cutting systems are becoming very popular and thanks to the reduction in the size of the machines, plasma cutters are becoming more affordable and also constantly advancing in technology. Plasma cutting systems offer plenty of benefits including faster speeds, ease of operation and higher cut quality.