How to select the best method for cutting steel

There are multiple ways to cut steel and multiple technologies and processes to coincide with them.
Determining the most appropriate method to a set type of steel can be difficult. Some methods are fast, some take time. Some are designed for thick steel; some can cut razor-thin steel with the perfect precision. The following guidelines will assist in determining the best method for the most accurate and desirable cut.

1. Analyse the thickness of the steel

  • Laser cutting is perfect for steel that is thinner than 0.080”
  • Laser or plasma cutting is suitable for steel thinner than 0.125″
  • Laser, plasma or waterjet methods will suit steel that is thinner than 0.250″
  • Oxyfuel will cut anything over 8” with perfect precision
  • Oxyfuel or waterjet cutting is adequate for steel thicker 2”.

2. Determine the desired edge quality and accuracy

Plasma cutting is usually the most accurate method for steel fabrication. If heat is not desired (used with oxyfuel, plasma and laser) the waterjet method is an ideal option.

3. Cost analysis

Waterjet steel cutting is often the most expensive form of steel cutting. Oxyfuel is often the most cost-effective.

Cutting steel with multiple forms of plasma torches (common in laser or plasma cutting) can accumulate further costings, whereas waterjet cutting can run multiple nozzles from one intensifier pump, which allows the cost to be close to exact prior to the quoting stage of starting a steel cutting job.

Some complex steel cuts do require multi-process methods of cutting. Plasma and waterjet cutting are commonly used together as are waterjet steel cutting coinciding with oxyfuel cutting. Multi-process cutting allows for accurate and slower precision which is suitable for intricate contours, and depending on the steel cut required, can also work together to achieve a fast and productive result. Multi-process cutting methods can prove more cost-effective than just focusing on a solitary method for different cuts on one type of steel.

The width of the steel, the expense and the desired cut are all crucial elements in determining the best method for cutting steel. At steel service centres such as ShapeCUT, we provide accurate quotes and high-quality service to produce the best steel cuts possible.