Why Fabricators Prefer Plasma Cutting over Oxyfuel Cutting?
When it comes to metal fabrication and product manufacturing, the preferred cutting system will make an immense difference to the quality and durability of the metal product. Two common cutting systems used by metal fabricators and product manufacturers are oxy fuel cutting and plasma cutting.
What are Plasma Cutting and Oxyfuel Cutting?
Before we get down to comparing the two technologies, it is important to get a brief understanding about both methods. Oxyfuel cutting involves using a combination of fuel gas to heat the metal, and high pressurized oxygen to oxidize and blow away the cut metal chips.The fuel gas used is usually LPG,propylene, hydrogen, acetylene gas, or natural gas.
Plasma cutting heats gases like hydrogen, oxygen, or nitrogen to a high temperature and ionizes it for electrical conductivity. When the plasma cutter is used, the gas creates an electric arc, which is used to melt the workpiece. The expelled plasma from the gas and cutter blows the molten pieces away.
Plasma Cutting versus Oxyfuel Cutting: Which One is Better?
A look at the benefits and disadvantages of both methods can provide a clear idea about which cutting method would work for you.
- Oxyfuel Cutting:
- Oxyfuel is extremely cost-effective, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 in terms of torch machine setup.
- This system can run without regular maintenance.
- However, this system is limited in application since it is unable to cut aluminum and steel. This is due to the gas combination, which degrades the metal.
- The oxyfuel needs to be preheated before usage thus increasing cost.
- Oxyfuel has slow piercing and cutting speeds. Thin materials are cut at 30 Inches per Minute (IPM), and thick materials of 1.5 inches and above takes about 15IPM.The slower the speed, the higher the total cost for using the system.
- Plasma Cutting:
- Speed is plasma cutting’s greatest advantage. It can cut 1 inch thick mild steel at 80 IPM. Thinner materials can be cut at speeds of up to 150 IPM.
- Plasma cutting does not require preheating, thus reducing costs.
- It can quickly and easily create multiple pierces on 1 workpiece.
- Plasma cutting provides accuracy. Parts can be cut with fine features, and the same can be replicated on multiple workpieces.
- The system is capable of cutting various types of metals, including steel and aluminum.
- High speeds lead to faster operation, higher productivity, reduced downtime, and increased profitability.
- However, the initial cost of the plasma cutting system is high compared to oxyfuel cutting.
When we look at the advantages and disadvantages of both cutting methods, it is clear that plasma cutting has a definite edge over oxyfuel cutting. That is why plasma cutting is the preferred choice for many industrial product fabricators and manufacturers.