[EN] Oxyfuel vs Plasma: which one is the best cutting solution?
[EN] Oxyfuel is an effective and economical solution when it comes to cutting thick plate. But will it always be the best solution? We compared this well-known cutting process with plasma cutting technology to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Oxyfuel, as indicated in the previous article, is an effective technology and one of the oldest and most used cutting technologies on the market.
Plasma cutting is a slightly more recent technology, that also has a good performance: fast and clean cutting and generates almost no waste.
We’ll now compare some differences between oxyfuel and plasma cutting, focusing on the way both processes work.
Slag is a metal that melts and remains on the edge of the metal's thickness by shearing off. In both oxyfuel and plasma cutting, dross is relatively easy to remove.
The speed of plasma cutting and oxyfuel cutting are very similar when applied to thick plate. In sheets from 25 to 50mm, plasma cutting can achieve a cutting speed higher than oxyfuel.
Plasma cutting technology, unlike oxyfuel, does not require preheating. By being able to start cutting right after turning on the equipment, you gain a time advantage.
Deformations in the sheet are produced by heat. In the case of plasma cutting, the deformation caused is very low compared to oxyfuel as much less heat is applied.
The thickness of the sheet is also a factor to consider, because the thinner the sheet, the greater its propensity to deformation by the action of heat. Therefore, a thicker sheet is more heat resistant than a thinner sheet.
Cutting quality can also be variable, comparing plasma cutting and oxyfuel cutting. When dealing with thicknesses above 40mm, the cut quality is very similar in both cases.
It is recommended to use oxyfuel on plates with thicknesses greater than 50mm, due to its unique ability to cut sheets of very high thickness and because it is an inexpensive method (compared to plasma) and very reliable. The thickness of the sheet should never exceed 150mm.
Plasma cutting technology ensures a cleaner cut, with a quality superior to oxyfuel. It is not recommended for sheets with thicknesses greater than 50mm and less than 6mm.
For thicknesses smaller than 6mm, it is recommended to use other cutting technologies.
Plasma cutting is a more versatile technology than oxyfuel. However, oxyfuel is still the most suitable solution when it is necessary to cut sheet metal with a thickness of more than 50mm, being this type of cutting often associated with heavy-duty projects.
We should not see these two cutting technologies as opposites, but as complementary. When one can no longer perform effectively, the other kicks in (and vice versa).