Should I use oxy-fuel or plasma for heavy steel cutting?

When it comes to heavy steel cutting, there are two main robotic processes that are commonly used: oxy-fuel cutting and plasma cutting. But which one should you choose? 

Steel cutting

Heavy steel profile cutting is an important process in many industries, such as off-shore construction and ship building. Fabricators typically deal with a wide range of profiles, including T-bars, tubes and H-beams, all of which have different demands and challenges. With regards to cutting processes for 3D shapes, oxy cutting and plasma cutting are your two main options.

Plasma cutting

Plasma cutting involves a torch blowing gas out of its nozzle quickly, with an electric arc turning the gas into plasma. This kind of cutting is very fast – around twice as fast as oxy cutting. It is typically used for cutting steel plates, and it works well on materials below 40mm in thickness.

The speed of this kind of cutting makes it perfect if high productivity is essential. However, the downside of this speed is the pressure it puts on tools (such as nozzles) and safety, resulting in increased operational costs.

Oxy cutting

The oxy-fuel cutting process involves a torch with a fuel gas (e.g. natural gas or acetylene) preheating the metal. When it reaches a certain temperature, the addition of oxygen pierces the metal. The machine then moves the torch at a steady speed, enabling accurate cuts to be made. Oxy-fuel cutting is therefore ideal when precision and accuracy are top priorities. It is also useful for cutting thick materials and bevels.

Oxy cutting is relatively energy efficient, keeping operating costs down, and a protective cabin isn’t necessary when doing it. However, it’s important to note that this process can’t be used on stainless steel and aluminium.

Cutting from ShapeCUT

If you need steel cutting services, or any other kind of shape cutting, contact the team here at ShapeCUT today. With over 20 years’ experience and an excellent selection of advanced cutting machines, we have what it takes to meet you and your business’s profile cutting demands.