Plasma Cutting Vs Laser Cutting Vs Waterjet

• Post By: Brandon M. Fox  • Updated: 03/14/20

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.

What is plasma cutting?

A plasma cutter is a tool used in metal fabrication for cutting and shaping sheet metal. A plasma cutter uses an electric arc between electrodes to heat up the workpiece so that it can be cut or pierced through by a nozzle.

Allowing the process be done in much less time than traditional cutting methods, it also helps maintain cleanliness by preventing particles from contaminating the cut edge.

What are the pros and cons?

Plasma cutting is a process that uses high-energy gas to create a controlled explosion that cuts through metal. It has many advantages over other methods, such as the potential to cut thicker material and the ability to cut more than one piece of metal at once.

The major disadvantage of plasma cutting is the high cost of equipment and consumables.

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?

What is Laser cutting?

Laser cutting is a process that cuts through materials by using a laser beam. The laser beam is focused on the material to be cut, and the heat from the laser vaporizes the surface of it. This creates an instantaneous pressure wave that travels through the material, breaking its bonds and severing it.

Pros:

-You can cut through a variety of materials including plastics, metals, and woods.

-The laser beam is focused to a point so it has a high power density which means it can make clean cuts.

-Laser cutting is often faster than other types of cutting methods.

Cons:

-It’s expensive to buy the machine and to operate it.

Is laser cutting better?

The debate over the best cutting option has often been one of the most contentious in the construction industry. On one hand, laser cutting offers an attractive alternative to more traditional methods such as saw cutting and waterjet cutting. It offers a quicker and more precise cut than less advanced machinery and is also safer for workers.

However, some say that lasers aren’t worth the extra cost for projects with thinner materials. Furthermore, laser machines use a lot of energy and tend to be more expensive to operate.

How laser cutting work?


What is Waterjet cutting?

Waterjet cutting is an industrial fabrication process that utilizes a high-pressure water stream to cut materials. The technique uses the mechanical energy of the water flow to attain precise cuts in things like metal, stone, and glass.

With computerized accuracy, this technique can produce intricate bends, curves, and straight edges without heating up the material or requiring any post-cutting finishing work.

Learn more about how to setup a plasma cutter?

Waterjet cutting: What are the pros and cons?

When it comes to precision, there are few techniques that can compare to waterjet cutting. It is not only an incredibly precise technique, but also the fastest in terms of throughput. Depending on the material and thickness, a single line of waterjet cut steel will take less than 1 second.

However, this method has its drawbacks too. The most notable drawback is that you need access to a spacious work area in order to ensure the safety of all individuals present during operation.

How water jet machine works?


Conclusion and which one would you prefer?

In conclusion, our team found that the three machines have their own advantages and disadvantages. While a laser can cut a variety of materials, it has a high maintenance cost. A waterjet is best for abrasive materials and has a high cutting efficiency, but cannot cut through hard brittle materials. The plasma machine is best for cutting steels and other metals because it does not require oxygen to work.

In summary, we found that the three machines have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Brandon M. Fox

I have completed Diploma at Welding. I have spent 10+ years in Welding. Now love to write about welding and welding products and share my own experiences. Find me: Twitter | Facebook

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