Metal fabrication is not just one process: it is a combination of processes used to convert raw or semi-finished metal material into finished parts or products. One of the most important and widely used metal fabrication processes is cutting. Metal cutting involves removing unwanted metal material from a workpiece in order to achieve the desired shapes and sizes.
Various cutting techniques used in metal fabrication applications. Plasma cutting, waterjet cutting, and laser cutting are 3 of the most widely used metal cutting methods. Read along to learn more about each of these metal cutting options.
A plasma cutter achieves cutting action by using ionised and electrically conductive gas as a medium for transferring heat from a power supply to any conductive material. This cutting process delivers cleaner, faster-cutting action than with oxy-fuel.
The various types of plasma cutting systems available out there fall into two main categories: conventional and precision systems.
Conventional plasma cutters are mostly handheld systems that use shop air as the plasma gas while precision cutters are highly sophisticated machines that are designed to achieve the highest quality of cuts achievable with plasma.
As the name implies, this metal cutting process requires using a high-pressure jet of cold water to cut through metal material. Unlike thermal metal cutting processes, waterjet cutting cannot cause thermal distortion of the workpiece, as it does not rely on high heat to deliver cutting action.
An abrasive substance is added to the water to help enhance cutting performance. This explains why this cutting method is sometimes referred to as abrasive waterjet cutting. While waterjet cutting is cheaper than many other cutting methods, it does not deliver the sharpest cuts and may not work well in situations where parts tolerances are not so forgiving.
This is one of the newest methods available for cutting metals. It uses a highly focused laser beam to achieve cutting action. As the laser beam comes into contact with certain sections of the metal material being cut, it removes the unwanted parts, creating parts of the desired shapes and sizes.
Laser cutting is a high-precision cutting method. This means that it delivers highly accurate and precise cuts that may not be matched by alternative cutting methods. Plus, it can maintain the same quality of cuts throughout the production process.
Because of the high heat generated by the powerful laser beam, laser cutting may not be suitable for cutting metals that have an extremely low melting point.
The best cutting process for your metal fabrication project depends on the type of material to be cut and the specific requirements of the project. Your metal fabricator will help you determine the right metal cutting process for you.
For more information, contact a metal fabrication service.