Aluminium Cutting: Laser, Plasma or Waterjet?
With the development of different cutting technologies, which is the best technology for cutting aluminum sheets?
Its light weight, electrical conductivity, resistance to corrosion and the low melting point of aluminum, give it a wide variety of applications such as:
- Transport equipment (ex. airplanes, boats, automobiles or bicycles);
- Construction (ex. windows, doors, partitions, among others);
- Everyday objects (ex. home appliances, cooking pots or tools).
Nowadays, in the metalworking industry, this is the most used metal after steel.
- LASER CUTTING
This is a 50-year-old technology that is constantly innovating.
The introduction of CNC systems, Cad Cam solutions until the recent introduction of fiber laser, make this technology the fastest and most efficient solution for cutting aluminum sheets.
In the past, CO2 lasers raised many concerns when cutting aluminum due to their reflective properties (critical reflections could enter the optical system and destroy the laser). With the appearance of fiber laser this problem no longer exists.
Depending on the power of the laser, we can cut thicknesses up to 30 mm, however the most commercially available fiber laser cutting machines on the market have powers of 3, 4 or 6 Kw.
In conclusion, fiber laser cutting technology presents itself as the best solution for cutting aluminum metal sheets with thicknesses up to 30mm as it cuts faster (which in addition to greater efficiency, ensures less material heating, avoiding deformation), with greater precision and allows the cutting of parts with very complex geometries.
- PLASMA CUTTING
This cutting technology has been used since 1960, however in the last 5 years it has had major innovations, especially with the introduction of High Definition Plasmas that increased the precision, quality and reliability of the cut.
With the current High Definition Plasmas and with a power of 400 Amp we are able to cut aluminum with thicknesses up to 50mm (if we begin the cut from the edge, without perforation of the material, we can even cut 90 mm).
The choice for Plasma Cutting is usually made for thicknesses between 6mm and 50mm. This technology allows for cheaper operating costs.
Aluminum Plasma Cutting is recommended for parts that do not have very complex shapes and thicknesses from 30mm to 50mm.
In addition to high definition plasma cutting, MOTOFIL also has a WATERMIST TECHONOLGY solution, which consists of using normal tap water instead of secondary gas (Nitrogen). This technology reduces cutting costs, making this solution more economic.
- WATERJET CUTTING
The Waterjet Cutting technique consists of accelerating a mixture of water and abrasive at the sound speed to make it possible for water to pierce through the metal.
The advantages of this technology are the high precision, similar to Laser, and the low temperature that does not cause thermal changes in the materials to be cut.
It is the only technology capable of effectively cutting large thicknesses, and in the case of aluminum, these thicknesses can reach up to 300mm (however it tends to lose some precision in thicknesses greater than 150 or 200mm).
Aluminum waterjet cutting is used for small volume series that require high precision or for parts that cannot have any thermal alteration or even for pieces of great thickness.