In any industry, as technology changes and new technologies emerge, industry standards for certain procedures also change. The metal fabrication industry is no exception. While oxy-fuel is commonly used for cutting mild steel, plasma cutting has become the standard for metal fabrication because of the variety of advantages it offers over oxy-fuel. Oxy-fuel is still used and has its place in metal fabrication, but for the majority of metal fabricators looking to make an investment for their shop, plasma is the way to go.
One of the biggest advantages of plasma over oxy-fuel is that plasma can cut a wider variety of materials. This is a very significant advantage as many metal fabrication shops (if not most) cut more materials than mild steel. Plasma torches can cut steel, aluminum, brass, copper and can also cut through painted metals as well. Further, plasma can cut through several plates of a variety of materials stacked together, which oxy-fuel cannot do. Next, plasma provides a much faster cutting process than oxy-fuel which is important for anyone running a business. If you are occasionally cutting materials for a work of art and do not have to worry about how long something takes, this may not matter much. But, the majority of metal fabricators would prefer to have the fastest cutting process possible without sacrificing cut quality. It is not faster by a marginal amount, rather, plasma cuts 2xs (if not significantly more) faster than oxy-fuel, greatly reducing cut time and allowing metal fabricators to be more productive. Additionally, plasma cutting is a much safer cutting method than oxy-fuel. Oxy-fuel requires an open flame and flammable gas but plasma torches do not require this which makes the work environment a much safer place. When it all comes down to it though, you want the best cut quality possible because that is the most important thing. Nobody really cares how fast you cut something if the cut quality is terrible. Oxy-fuel tends to have a large heat-affected zone because the whole sheet has to be pre-heated for the cutting process. Whereas, with plasma, the torch has a highly focused area and does not require pre-heating so it has a significantly reduced heat-affected zone. Additionally, when using an EZCut CNC plasma cutting system, there is an automatic torch height control attached to the table to ensure that torch height is always optimal for the specific cutting required – something oxy-fuel does not offer. With plasma, dross is highly diminished, warping is mitigated and cut quality is maximized to a far superior level over oxy-fuel. When making an investment for your metal fabrication shop, carefully consider the type of cutting you tend to do, the materials you tend to use (or may way to use in the future) and the variety of other benefits we discussed and it will be plain to see – plasma cutting offer a variety of advantages over oxy-fuel.