What is the right way to cut metal? Metal cutting machines do not all use the same technology, with metal fabricators having to pick from multiple types of cutting technology including oxyacetylene cutting, plasma cutting, waterjet cutting, and laser cutting.
Each metal cutting technique works differently to deliver the desired results and has unique pros and cons that may or may not make it suitable for certain applications. To choose the best metal cutting technology for your project requirements, you have to base your decision on a variety of factors, including the following:
The properties of the material to be cut
Different kinds of metals and alloy metals are available for metal fabrication. These include aluminium, copper, brass, magnesium, bronze, gold, silver, nickel, and different grades of steel, such as stainless steel, structural steel, and carbon steel. Each metal has unique material properties that impact the quality of cuts achieved through the various cutting processes.
For example, laser cutting works nicely for metals that are good absorbers of infrared laser light. It isn't suitable for cutting copper and brass. These two metals have reflective surfaces that make them poor absorbers of laser light.
The thickness of the material to be cut
For any particular cutting technology, the maximum metal thickness that can be cut without sacrificing the quality of the cut varies from material to material. Generally, plasma and laser cutting are ideal for cutting thinner metals while oxyfuel and waterjet cutting allows you to cut thicker materials.
Laser cutters can also be used to cut thick metals, depending on their strength.
The desired productivity
How fast you need to cut metal is another important consideration to make when selecting a metal cutting technology. Plasma cutting is the fastest, followed by laser cutting while waterjet cutting comes third.
In most cases, oxyfuel cutting delivers the slowest production speed due to the need for preheating before commencing the cutting process.
The precision of the cut
Consider the desired edge quality and accuracy required for each cut. Be sure to choose a cutting technique that will deliver the precision you need for your parts.
Choosing the right cutting method for your metal fabrication is essential for creating parts or products that meet your exacting specification. The good news is that you don't have to make such a big decision alone. Consult the experts at a metal fabrication shop near you to get the advice you need to make the correct choice.
To learn more, reach out to a metal fabrication service today.