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Plasma Cutting, Laser Cutting, and Waterjet CuttingThe processes of precision cutting surprisingly impact an immense range of industries. Without precision cutting methods, most original equipment manufacturers (or OEMs) would not be able to fabricate the products, or provide the services that help build everyday life.
 
Industries influenced by precision cutting include everything from artwork and sign building, to automotive and aerospace, to heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), to farming, energy, and mining.
 
What is Precision Cutting?
 
In regard to precision cutting, the material being cut is often some sort of steel, or alloy. There are several approaches to precision cutting. Three common types are:
  • Plasma Cutting
  • Laser Cutting
  • Waterjet Cutting
A variety of plasma cutters are available but fundamentally, all maintain the same method and design.
 
The technique of plasma cutting employs the scientific concepts behind electrochemistry. It begins with the use of an inert gas such as argon, nitrogen, oxygen, or hydrogen. At very high pressure points, this gas passes through a narrow path within the plasma nozzle.
 
At the centre of the nozzle is a negatively charged electrode. A circuit is created by powering the negative electrode and bringing the nozzle in contact with the metal being cut, producing a spark and turning the gas into plasma. This is referred to as a plasma arc or electrical arc.
 
At this point the plasma is so hot and is blown so quickly that it melts the metal it touches, "cutting” the material. Plasma temperatures can range from about 16,500 degrees Celsius (30,000 degrees Fahrenheit), to 25,000 degrees Celsius (45,000 degrees Fahrenheit).
 
In addition to the path for the electrode and plasma, the nozzle has two other pathways. These pathways send a continuous supply of what is called shielding gas to the perimeter of the flowing plasma. The purpose of the shielding gas is to:
  • Control the size of the plasma beam and area being cut
  • Guarantees contact between the plasma and the material
  • Prevents oxidation
Plasma torches can cut up to a thickness of about 6 inches (150 mm). For thinner materials, a trend toward laser cutting methods is being used.
 
Laser cutting is a type of computer numerical controlled (CNC) cutting. All types of laser cut devices essentially operate the same way. A gas laser acts as the energy source, located within the device. As it becomes energized, a laser beam is directed by mirrors inside of the machine. A lens then directs the light to the work area, outside of the device.
 
Waterjet cutting is another common CNC approach to precision metal cutting.
 
In a waterjet cutter, a highly pressurized stream of water is used to cut through materials such as:
  • Inconel
  • Aluminium
  • Tool steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
Pure water can be used in the cutters, or a mixture with an abrasive substance like garnet or aluminium oxide may also be employed in what is called abrasive waterjet cutters.
 
Water pressures can range from 20,000 to 50,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and can cut densities anywhere from five-thousandths of an inch to 7 inches.
 
Each precision cutting method encompasses several advantages. For instance, laser cutting is considered to more precise than plasma cutting. However, the plasma cutting technique is better suited to cut through greater thicknesses. And while the heat affected zone (HAZ) is minimal in plasma cutters and laser cutters, waterjet cutters have a zero possibility of HAZ, resulting in no unwanted warping of the material. There are pros and cons to each method, all of which are dependent upon the type of material that needs to be cut, and the type of cut required.
ADVANCED PROFILE ON MEDIA
 
Metalworking Industrio Products & Solutions Metalworking KMT - Metal Cutting
KMT - Powerful Cutting Solutions KMT Waterjet Success Stories KMT - Water Jet Cutting Industry Publications
Stone is a difficult material to cut since it is both hard and brittle. Without the proper equipment, you can easily damage the expensive material. To find the expert who can handle the job, click here.
There are countless number of metal workers in a directory, so how can you find the right company? This website will be a good place to start on your search of a metal profiling company.
Bevel cutting is highly specialized service that few profile cutting companies are equipped to deal with. Advanced Profiles offers an expertise in the field of bevel cutting.
Beveling with the use of plasma cutters is performed at the same time the metal is being cut, a definite time and cost savings for the client.
Plasma gouging is a lesser known approach to metal plate processing. However, as it is an extension of plasma cutting, it is assumes many of the same advantages as plasma cutting, as well as the ability to perform other functions.
Waterjet cutting nozzles come in many variations. To decide which nozzle is best for the desired cut, it is important to know how each cutting method works and how the parts of the various devices function.
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