What is better laser cutting of metal or plasma?

17.06.2022

Custom laser cutting is useful when you need to cut technically complex parts of small size or where you need maximum accuracy and compliance with the drawings. Plasma is good at cutting thick metal, for example, rails, metal frame, but is not suitable for precision work with metal.

Laser cutting technology

Metal cutting on a laser machine occurs using a focused beam. Based on the drawings, the laser heats the metal sheet until it melts, while the gas jet removes the remains of molten iron.

With the correct use of the laser machine, any deformation of the metal is excluded. If the cutting settings are not set correctly, then deposits and edges on the manufactured parts may be present. Also, soot can be caused by contamination of raw materials, such as rust.

Plasma cutting technology

Metal cutting on a plasma machine is due to the creation of a plasma jet. When the electrode and the nozzle interact, the arc is ignited, gas passes through the nozzle, interacting with the electric arc, it heats up to 5000 – 30000 ° C, thereby creating a plasma arc.

Cost of laser cutting and plasma cutting

The cost of cutting on a laser machine

Laser sheet metal cutting is suitable for different materials: black steel, stainless and galvanized steel, titanium, etc. Laser cutting of metal has its limitations, for example, the optimal sheet thickness is up to 20 mm. When ordering laser cutting services, the cut thickness will be 0.1 – 0.2 mm, which will allow you save on material and the details will fully comply with your drawings.

Laser cutting, which costs less than plasma or waterjet cutting, will be especially noticeable when working with materials up to 10 mm thick. This is due to the fact that the laser machine has a much higher speed, and the cost of consumables is less.

Plasma cutting cost

The plasma cutting machine is also suitable for various materials, except for those that are not conductive. For cutting thin sheet metal, the use of plasma is impractical. High temperatures cause deformation of the cutting contour.

The price of cutting metal with plasma is slightly higher due to the greater use of consumables. But when processing metals with a thickness of more than 20 mm, a plasma machine can achieve better price and performance.

Metal laser cutting – advantages and disadvantages

Benefits:

  1. The edge is always perpendicular;
  2. Cut width from 0.1 to 0.2 mm;
  3. Products do not require additional processing;
  4. It is possible to produce parts of the same size as the thickness of the sheet;
  5. No thermal effect at the cut point;
  6. It is possible to process thin metal sheets from 0.2 mm;
  7. The fastest cutting speed.

Weaknesses:

  1. Cutting more than 20 mm reduces efficiency;
  2. Expensive equipment.

Advantages and disadvantages of plasma cutting

Benefits:

  1. Suitable for cutting various thicknesses of metal up to 50mm;
  2. Higher efficiency when cutting thick sheets.

Weaknesses:

  1. Not suitable for processing thin metal;
  2. The quality of the edge is much inferior to the laser machine;
  3. After cutting, additional processing of products is necessary;
  4. You can not cut holes of small diameter equal to the thickness of the sheet; 
  5. Slow processing speed of thin metal.

Output

Custom laser cutting is useful when you need to cut technically complex parts of small size or where you need maximum accuracy and compliance with the drawings. Plasma is good at cutting thick metal, for example, rails, metal frame, but is not suitable for precision work with metal.

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