In a project that involves cutting metal, does the method matter? That’s the question we’ll be answering in this text.
What are your options? Typically, there are three methods of cutting metal. These are; plasma cutting, laser, and water jet.
It’s essential to understand each technique to help you in deciding the best that will suit your needs. Keep reading as we slice up the topic, plasma cutting vs. laser cutting vs. waterjet.
Read more about harbor freight plasma cutter review.
In this approach, you can cut electrically conductive materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper.
- However, this is not to mean that a plasma cutter can’t cut another metal. As long as the metal conducts electricity, then it’s okay.
- A plasma cutter can cut ferrous and nonferrous metals but not wood or plastic.
How does a plasma cutter cut metal?
A plasma cutter uses a handheld torch to cut a thickness of up to 1.5 inches. It uses a flowing jet of hot plasma, which is extremely hot to reach 22,000 degrees Celsius. In summary,
- A plasma cutter can cut then and thick materials.
- It’s efficient in producing quality holes and can cut a wide variety of hard metals.
- As compared to laser and water jet methods, it’s less accurate.
- In terms of artistry, it produces poor or uneven edges on some metals.
Does a plasma cutter function in the same way as a TIG Welder? The answer is No. The reason being;
- A plasma cutter is purposely for cutting and not melting metal, unlike a TIG welder.
- A plasma cutter is easy to operate and doesn’t require a lot of training.
- When you compare to laser cutting, it’s faster, especially if the metal thickness exceeds 3mm.
How a plasma cutter work?
Do you want to achieve smooth edges without bevels? Try laser cutting, which is an advanced method for cutting metal that uses beams to cut through materials.
- It’s more precise and uses less human energy.
- It requires fewer efforts since most of the functions are computerized.
- The machine is programmed to perform tasks. All you need is to install the programs, inspect and repair.
- This method can cut a wide range of metals, plastics, glass, ceramics, rubber, and wood.
- With the use of new technology, the artistry is perfect, fast, and produces quality edges on the products.
- Every new model of the machine features advanced technology, thus guaranteeing improved efficiency.
Is laser cutting better?
Indeed yes. Here is the kicker.
- Unlike plasma cutting and water jet system, here, you’ll need less energy to operate.
- Everybody stays safe, and without a doubt, there’s less human contact, and this minimizes incidences of injuries.
- It’s faster and suitable in the production of complex shapes accurately.
- It’s reliable and can cut layers and layers of material simultaneously being economical in terms of time.
- Laster cutting is suitable for cutting narrow sheets of metals and non-metal materials.
Here is the downside:
- Despite the overwhelming advantages of a laser-cut, it’s pricey. Yes, you heard right, you’ll have to dig deeper in your pocket. You’ll also need to be trained to operate this machine.
- It’s not all gloomy since you’ll get quality cuts, it only means you’ll get value.
How laser cutting work?
Let’s see this video for how laser cutting work.
Water Jet Cutting Machine
Water jet cutter is a machine for cutting a wide range of materials through high-pressure jets of water.
- The tools operate on a combination of water and an abrasive substance to cut through sheets of hard metal or granite.
- A pure water jet machine can cut soft wooden or rubber materials.
- Some materials are sensitive to high temperatures caused by plasma or laser cutting machines. Water jet cutter comes in handy to prevent such destruction.
- It’s commonly used in mining and aerospace to cut shapes.
Benefits of a water jet cutter
The main advantage if a water jet cutter doesn’t produce heat that can damage the material.
- Also, it doesn’t produce waste, which can be hazardous to humans.
- The process is accurate and can cut thick materials with ease.
However, it’s also important to note that:
- A water jet cutter produces a lot of noise while cutting, and you might find it annoying.
- Also, the abrasive materials for operating the machine are expensive and uneconomical.
- In terms of efficiency, it’s usually slow in most metals and may not be suitable for bulk production.
- There is a danger of machine breaking down due to abrasive dust that clogs the machine part hindering the free movement of machine parts. For this reason, it requires regular servicing and maintenance.
How water jet machine works?
In this video, you get basic about water jet machines and how water jet machine works.
Conclusion and which one would you prefer?
There a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best method to cut metal sheets. These include;
Type of metal or material you’d like to cut,
- Cost involved,
- The efficiency of the machine or
- Method and the convenience of each method.
The bottom line, the best method to use, whether its plasma cutting vs. laser cutting vs. waterjet, will depend on the quality of the outcome.
Learn more about how to setup a plasma cutter?