Metal cutting is a common step involved with many welding-related jobs, whether the application is in the fabrication shop or on a job site. Two popular metal-cutting processes to choose from are plasma arc and oxy-fuel cutting (Propylene fuel to burn). At Winchester Metals, we use both systems as they have advantages depending on the job we are doing, determining which tool is the best fit depends on numerous factors, including the type and thickness of the metal, power resources available, etc.
Plasma is an ionized gas that conducts electricity, and it is created by adding energy to an electrically neutral gas. The energy is electricity and the gas is typically compressed air. Both of these elements are combined in a chamber between an electrode and nozzle, causing the gas to become imbalanced, thus creating plasma gas. Air pressure forces the plasma gas through the nozzle, creating a concise constricted flow that is electrically conductive. The more energy added via the plasma cutter, the hotter the plasma arc becomes, providing more cutting capacity and efficiency.
Plasma cutters are used to perform cutting and gouging operations, typically capable of cutting a maximum metal thickness of about 1 inch. Plasma typically requires a source for compressed air and a substantial amount of electrical power. One of plasma’s greatest advantages is its ability to cut non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron. Speed and precision cutting also are benefits of plasma, which can provide smooth cuts with a narrower kerf than that produced by an oxy-fuel torch. Plasma does not require the metal to be preheated before cutting, which saves time, and plasma cutters also outperform oxy-fuel torches when cutting stacked metals. Faster speeds can be achieved on thinner metals with plasma, with minimal or no metal distortion.
Plasma cutting systems can offer benefits for cutting thinner ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including shaped metals — angles, channels, and tubes, for example. Plasma cutters also are better able to cut large volumes of thin sheet metal and offer the fastest grate-cutting capability.
Oxy-fuel torches have a leg up when it comes to cutting thicker metals and are capable of cutting, welding, brazing, soldering, heating, and gouging. The average system can cut steel 6 to 20 inches thick. Oxy-fuel torches are normally used for cutting only ferrous, or iron-containing, metals, and for the most part are not used for cutting cast iron, aluminum or stainless steel. Also, certain operations are exclusive to oxy-fuel systems, including fusion welding of ferrous metals, heat treating, heat shaping, riser cutting, soldering, and brazing.
With oxy-fuel cutting, an oxygen/fuel gas flame preheats the steel to its ignition temperature. A high-powered oxygen jet is then directed at the metal, creating a chemical reaction between the oxygen and the metal to form iron oxide.
No matter what you need, we are one of the most capable and affordable sources you will find to cut metals quickly and efficiently. We stock a wide variety of materials and use state-of-the-art equipment to get your job done to your specifications. We continually strive to improve and optimize our processes and maximize customer convenience. We have a wide variety of customers, ranging from inventors to businesses to government agencies. Our focus at Winchester Metals is on quality and customer service.
Contact us today to get a quote and find out if this is the best machine for your custom job.