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Plasma Cutting — Advantages & Disadvantages

Published Wednesday, June 29, 2022

When it comes to cutting the metal into specific shapes and sizes, there are many methods and processes to use. Back in the day, people struggled with cutting metal but nowadays, different metal cutting methods and tools are widely available. Choosing the right one to use for your metal fabrication process is the real question. It widely depends on the shape, size, and types of metal you’ll be using for your metal fabrication project. One of the most efficient ways to cut metal is using plasma. Today, we’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of plasma cutting so you can decide whether it’s the right process for you.

Common Metal Cutting Processes

Before you place your bets on plasma cutting, let’s take a look at other common metal cutting processes.

Turning:

This method involves spinning the sharp point of a cutting tool against a metal surface until its top layer is removed based on discretion.

Welding:

As for welding, the metal surface comes in contact with a high heat source that raises its temperature and weakens the metal until it breaks along a predetermined line or point.

Drilling:

This metal fabrication process works just like a drill and a screw. It uses rotation while applying pressure to bore into the metal. It is the best for cutting holes into metal.

Laser Cutting:

An efficient method that uses a concentrated beam of light and heat directed at a single point to cut into metal with precision and accuracy.

What Is Plasma Cutting & How Does It Work?

Now that we’ve established other common cutting methods, we can move on to plasma cutting. Plasma cutting can be described as the use of ionized gas to melt and remove material from the cut. However, it’s not as simple as that. So, how does it work? Plasma cutters function by sending a pressurized gas, like nitrogen, oxygen and argon through a small nozzle. The temperature of this gas is at least 20,000°C. In the center of this contraption, there is a negatively charged electrode. When power is applied and the channel touches the metal, that connection creates a circuit. A powerful spark is generated and that’s how it cuts metal.

The Advantages of Plasma Cutting

  • Versatility – Plasma cutting can be used to cut a variety of conductive material including steel, copper and iron. It can also cut different materials that have been stacked on top of one another which is a function that isn’t available for some of the other cutting methods.
  • Efficiency – If you compare the cutting speed of a plasma cutter to other cutting tools, the plasma cutter will definitely win. A plasma cutter is about 1/4 faster than any other cutting tool.
  • Cost Efficient – Since plasma can cut a lot faster without wasting as much material, that means the fabricator can get the job done quicker. This means more productivity along with less chances of injury bringing the cost for the end user down.
  • Safety – The gas used in plasma cutting is non-explosive or flammable making it the safer option compared to some of the other cutting processes.

The Disadvantages of Plasma Cutting

  • Limited – The cuts are more shallow because the depth is limited. That means it won’t cut thick or dense material as easily.
  • Fumes – This process does tend to generate excessive fumes. However, in a well-ventilated workshop, this shouldn’t be an issue for the fabricators.
  • Light exposure – When a plasma cutter is in action, it creates bright flashes which can affect the eyes unless you have the proper safety wear and guidance.

Plasma Cutting Services — Call VeriForm

Although plasma cutting does have its downside, the benefits definitely out weigh them. However, even though that’s the case, it does depend on the material you intend to work with. Your best bet is to contact a professional metal fabrication expert like VeriForm. VeriForm has many years of expertise when it comes to a variety of fabrication processes. Not only are they efficient, they get the job done right the first time. If you need professional consultation about your next metal fabrication project, contact VeriForm today.