Metal cutting is common enough in welding-related jobs, whether it’s in the fabrication shop or a job site. And, there are other metal-cutting techniques as well such as plasma arc cutting or laser cutting.
However, oxy-fuel cutting seems to be the popular choice due to its portability benefits. Nonetheless, it is viable to consider other options too.
And, to pick the best solution for your metal-cutting needs, you must consider several factors to decide the right choice for you.
Factor To Be Considered
Metals Being Used
Oxy-fuel cut is economical for cutting mild or low-alloy steel. Also, when it comes to flame cutting heavy metal thicknesses up to 900 mm, oxy-fuel cutting is simply exceptional.
On the other hand, cast iron, aluminum, and even stainless steel are not cut using oxy-fuel cutting.
Availability Of Electric Power
Plasma arc cutting is not exactly known for its portability. And, it needs to be worked with electricity, hence, if you need flame-cutting to be done on some remote location, then oxy-fuel cutting is for you.
Oxy-fuel requires the use of certain explosive fuel gases namely, acetylene, propane, propylene, and natural gas. There are certain places where such fuel gases can prove highly dangerous.
Therefore, it is a must to evaluate the restrictions that a job-site project may have before choosing the kind of flame-cutting you may want to have for the job.
Speed and Precision Cutting
Plasma arc cutting is well-known in the field for cutting stacked metals. Also, faster speeds are possible with plasma arc when thinner metals are used.
It also has a reputation for minimal or no metal distortion with thinner metals.
With oxy-fuel cutting, a fuel flame preheats the metal to its ignition temperature, then a high powered oxygen jet is directed at the metal which creates a chemical reaction.
This reaction causes slag. A high powered oxygen jet removes the slag from the kerf.
Naturally, this process is far more pronounced in oxy-fuel cutting than in plasma arc cutting.
Minimum Time Required
Oxy-fuel cutting requires the metal to be preheated to the ignition temperature before the metal can be cut.
This entire process is not necessary for plasma arc cutting. Hence, plasma arc cutting is thought to be a more time-efficient process.
It goes without saying that both these techniques have pros and cons. It may even be said that if the job is extensive enough, it would be advised to have both, oxyfuel and plasma arc as part of your arsenal.
The fundamental things to consider for either oxyfuel cutting or plasma arc cutting are the thickness of metal that will be cut, and what needs to be cut on a day-to-day basis.
If a thicker metal is to be cut frequently, just go for oxy-fuel cutting. On the other hand, if precision cutting of stainless steel is to be done, choose plasma arc cutting.
Hopefully, the article will provide some insight as to the flame cutting techniques that suits your needs.