There are some metal Cutting processes to pick from when you need metal cut to size. However, not all processes are appropriate for any job or metal form. A procedure such as flame cutting, plasma cutting, or water jet cutting may be appropriate for your project, but it is critical to understand the distinctions between cutting processes.
What Is the Difference between Flame, Plasma, and Water jet cutting?
Flame cutting is a thermal cutting method that creates a flame with enough energy to melt and sever material by combining oxygen and a fuel supply. Because of the use of oxygen and fuel in the blaze cutting process, it is also known as “oxyfuel cutting.” Flame cutting involves heating the material to its kindling temperature using a neutral flame. When this is achieved, the operator depresses a button, allowing an extra high-flowing stream of oxygen to be released into the blaze. This is used to cut the material and blast the molten metal, or dross, free.
The advantage of flame cutting is that it might burn through very dense metals. The flame cutting method will cut steel up to several feet thick with the correct machinery and gas flow. Flame cutting is often inexpensive in terms of tools.
When it comes to material types that can be cut, flame cutting has a drawback. Carbon steel, low alloy steels, and cast irons are the most often used materials for flame cutting. The flame cutting method cannot cut most other materials cleanly. Flame cutting is often more time consuming than plasma and water jet cutting.
Another thermal cutting method is plasma arc cutting. Unlike flame cutting, however, it employs an electrical arc to ionize and heat a gas, resulting in plasma that is used to sever the material. A tungsten electrode is used to create an electrical arc at the plasma cutting torch. A grounding clamp is used to connect the work piece to the torch’s electrical circuit. Once ionized by the tungsten electrode, the plasma becomes superheated and interfaces with the grounded work piece. The plasma gas may be a mixture of gases, and the right one depends on the substance being sliced. The superheated plasma gas jet severs the metal while simultaneously blowing away the dross.
Plasma cutting can produce high-quality cuts even more quickly than flame cutting. Many metals that conduct electricity reasonably well can be sliced with plasma. Plasma cutting is capable of cutting aluminum, stainless steel, copper, platinum, and a variety of other metals. The procedure is also simple to automate. Plasma cutting never cut materials that are as thick as some of that cut by flame cutting. In fact, plasma cutting is not a good option for more than a couple of inch thick Plasma cutting just cuts materials that are compatible with the electrical circuit.
Water jet Cutting
Water jet cutting is a mechanical cutting process that uses a high-pressure, high-speed stream of water to cut an object. A high-pressure pump forces water out of a water jet cutting head. For heavier and more difficult-to-cut materials, such as plastics, an abrasive agent is usually applied to the water to improve cutting capability and help increase travel speeds. Excess water and material lost during the cutting process were deposited in a tank on the opposite side of the material from the water jet cutting head.
Water jet cutting can cut a wide range of materials and is not limited to metals. Water jet cutting is therefore much safer than plasma or flame cutting because it produces no harmful gases. Water jet cutting can also be used in conjunction with automation.
Thicker and harder metals will slow down the cutting efficiency by reducing the cut efficiency. Water jet cutting equipment is also costly and needs a lot of services.
Which is it better to use flame cutting, plasma cutting, or water jet cutting?
Although there are other considerations to remember, below are several recommendations for selecting a cutting process:
- Flame Cutting: Use flame cutting anytime you need to cut heavy steels or cast irons while keeping tool costs to a minimum.
- Plasma Cutting: When high-quality cuts on metals less than 3-4 inches thick are needed, plasma cutting should be used.
- Water jet Cutting: Use water jet cutting to cut specific sections without allowing heat to affect the cuts. Water jet cutting is also useful for automatic cuts and nonmetallic material cutting.
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