When Oxy-fuel Cutting Doesn’t Cut It

For many years, oxy-acetylene was the process of choice for cutting steel. However, the plasma cutting process has progressed to the point where it has become economically and technically superior for most conductive metal applications.

Do you have a mild steel cutting job coming up? You have had an old oxy-acetylene rig in your garage or shop that has been sitting collecting dirt. Like the one you bought years ago or your dad passed along to you. What’s the condition of the regulators? What gas pressures do you need for the job? Do you have the right cutting tip to do the job? Is there enough oxygen and acetylene to do the job? Do you need to brush up on your cutting skills?

What if I told you there was a faster, easier way. A way that doesn’t require the skill level, the parts and pieces, or the gas? Plasma cutting is your answer.

plasma cutting

The Benefits

When looking at your next cutting project, consider these benefits of plasma cutting:

  • Will cut any conductive metal- A plasma cutter will cut steel, stainless, aluminum, copper, bronze, and brass.
  • Faster and less expensive than oxy-fuel – There is no preheating cycle required to kindle the steel with plasma. In addition, you’ll save $15 for each 100 feet of ½ steel you cut ($45 per hour shop rate: oxyfuel 20 ipm versus plasma 30 ipm). Also, with oxy-fuel, the other non-ferrous and stainless materials had to be cut with saws. This means the savings will be even greater.
  • Easy to learn. Because the heat is so localized, you can cut freehand, or use a simple guide to run the torch against. To use plasma, first, simply bring the tip in contact or within 1/8” of the metal. Next, pull the trigger and move the cut through the metal.
  • Smaller cutting width and cleaner cuts. The plasma jet is hotter and narrower than oxy-fuel flames. This means so you can cut to closer tolerances, the cut is cleaner, and there is much less heat distortion in the cut part. This makes plasma cutting particularly well-suited for cutting sheet metal, a task very difficult with the oxy-fuel cutting torch since it leaves a lot of slag on the edges.
  • Light weight and portable – The latest engineered inverter-based machines are compact: 110 volt machines with shoulder straps for cutting sheet metal; 220 volt cutters on wheeled carts to move around the shop or garage.

For a video on Hypertherm’s Powermax 85 Plasma Cutter, check out our YouTube Channel.

Author: Art Waskey