Flame Cutting vs Plasma Cutting

While plasma cutting has become more popular recently due to its precision and cut quality, there are still applications that gas cutting makes sense.  Flame cutting is still widely used when a higher degree of portability and maneuverability is needed.  This is great and useful when it comes to thicker metals that need cutting.  Learn more on the use of plasma cutting and flame cutting and when they are applied below.  

What is Flame Cutting?

When flame cutting is taking place oxygen and fuel gas are utilized to preheat the metal to the ignition temperature.  The process uses a high powered oxygen jet that gets directed at the metal, creating a chemical reaction between the metal which forms iron oxide.  This is also known as slag which the jet assists in removing from the kerf.  When using flame cutting cut quality, metal thickness, and preheating time are all influenced by the type of gas that you use.  There are four common gasses that are used: acetylene, propane, propylene and natural gas.

What Is Flame Cutting Used For?

The main reason that flame cutting is used is when a metal is too thick to be cut by plasma or other methods.  Flame cutting is very useful when it comes to cutting iron type metals.  Many oxy-fuel cutting systems also play a role when it comes to welding, braising, and soldering.  

Main Benefit of Flame Cutting

The main benefit that you will notice when electing to go with flame cutting is the upfront cost.  This is something to keep in mind when deciding between flame cutting and plasma cutting.  Flame cutting will also give you an edge when having to transport said metal after the cut.  A major asset that we have already mentioned is the ability to precisely cut through thick metals quickly.  

What is Plasma Cutting?

At a basic level plasma cutting uses a high velocity jet of ionized gas.  When the high velocity gas and plasma work together it creates electricity in the torch of the plasma cutter.  This results in the metal being heated and melting away the material.  While the melting is taking place the ionized gas plays a role in blowing away the melted metal.  

What Is Plasma Cutting Used For?

Plasma cutting is versatile and can be conducted on any type of conductive metal.  That includes mild steel, aluminum, and even stainless steel.  Plasma cutting is ideal to cut steel and non-ferrous material that is less than an inch thick.  One case that plasma cutting really shines its glory is cutting expanded metals.  Flame cutting would never be able to cut through expanded metal properly.  Plasma cutting is typically great at cutting fast and making non-linear cuts.  

Main Benefit of Plasma Cutting

The main benefit of plasma cutting is the ease of use for it.  In results it turns out to be a great high quality cut with less risk of user error.  The whole cutting process is quick too from start to finish.  The great part is that it does not rely on oxidation to set in letting it be able to cut aluminum, stainless steel and the other conductive metals.  It is ideal for maintenance work or projects that require large cutting volumes.  

Contact Markham Metals

If you are still not sure what cutting method is best for you and your project, reach out to Markham Metals.  Our expert team has years of experience with both cutting methods and are happy to answer any questions! To get started give us a call at 978-658-1121 or by filling out one of our contact forms!

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