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Three thermal cutting techniques - laser beam cutting, plasma arc cutting and oxyfuel flame cutting - are at the heart of many industrial metal fabrication processes. The most suitable thermal cutting method for you depends on the type of material, material thickness, the required cutting quality and dimensional tolerances.
In oxy-fuel cutting, exothermic reactions between pure oxygen and steel deliver the heat for melting the metal. Preheat flames are used to raise the surface to ignition temperature. Pure oxygen is then directed toward the heated area in a fine, high pressure stream to establish the cut. Only metals whose oxides have a lower melting point than the base metal itself can be cut with this process. It is therefore limited to carbon steel.
Plasma cutting uses a high velocity jet of ionized gas (plasma), which is delivered from a constricting orifice. The plasma heats the work piece, melts the material and mechanically blows the molten metal away, severing the material. Plasma cutting can be performed on any type of conductive metal. To constrict the plasma plume and achieve a narrower gap with less bevel the plasma gas can be swirled (rotated) or a second shroud gas can be used.
In laser cutting, a beam of monochromatic and coherent light is produced inside the laser resonator and then focused by a lens onto the metal surface. Since laser light is an electromagnetic wave it will accelerate the free electrons in the metal. The electrons will collide with other constituents of the metal lattice causing the material to heat up and melt. Process gases such as oxygen or nitrogen are used to expel the molten metal out of the cut kerf.
Fuel, cutting and shroud gases are the key to an optimized cutting process. Selecting the correct process gas and operating a safe gas supply system meeting flow, pressure and purity requirements will increase cut quality and productivity. With its long term experience in production and distribution of gases, Messer is uniquely positioned to supply the optimum gas and the equipment. Our specialists can provide cut samples and analyze your future cutting cost.