Plasma cutting is a cutting process which involves utilizing ionized (electrically charged) gas particles in a pressure stream to cut through conductive materials. Plasma cutting is the preferred way to cut steel (especially plate) in thicknesses ranging from ¼”- 2” in terms of speed and cut quality. For more information click here: Define plasma - Plasma cutting processes (hypertherm.com)
Plasma cutting is typically the preferred cutting process as opposed to other cutting processes in terms of cut speed and operating costs for steel thicker than ¼”and thinner than 2”. However, for tolerance critical parts or parts in gauge (thinner) thicknesses, laser cutting is often the better option. Waterjet comes in handy for processing material other than steel such as glass or composites. Waterjet cutting is extremely precise and time intensive however it is a good choice for tolerance critical part. (Oxyfuel) Flame cutting is ideal for parts that are over 2” in thickness. See more below…
This totally depends on the machine setup and amperage of the plasma power source. Our machine can pierce 2” and sever 3-1/8” when processing mild steel. For more technical information click here XPR300 mechanized plasma cutting system (hypertherm.com).
Yes! Plasma processing thicker aluminum or stainless is very economical and productive. There are different gas configurations that should be considered depending on whether cost or quality is more important.
Flame (oxyfuel) cutting (the oldest, simplest, and most traditional cutting process) is still widely used today and is the preferred cutting method when processing plates thicker than 2”. If the machine is configured correctly, a flame cut edge is straight and clean. Flame cutting is best suited for thick basic shapes (blanks to be machined). Many flame cutting machines have multiple torch heads on one gantry to cut multiple parts at once. For a multi-torch setup like this the parts need to be identical to utilize all of the torches at once. As a general rule of thumb, plasma is much quicker when cutting thicknesses under 2”.
It is very important to note that not all plasma table machines are created equal. 20+ years ago, plasma was notorious for creating holes with bad taper with a ding or divot. However, todays plasma machines (like our X Definition machine) have made major improvements when it comes to cutting holes. Hypertherm’s patented TrueHole Technology is just one example. The technology uses oxygen for the shield gas and optimizes the speed and shapes of the lead-in and lead-outs for a taper free hole. It will be fundamentally impossible to completely eliminate all taper due to the swirling gas effects as the gases exit the plasma nozzle. However, hi-definition and X-definition plasma machines have come a long way in terms of hole quality. Holes that are less than a 1:1 diameter to material thickness ratio will be better suited for another cutting process unless quality is not important.
This could be a number of things, but the first thing to check are the consumables. Consumable stacks will wear and need replaced. Rough or uneven cuts could also be poor CNC machine motion, impure gas supply, incorrect cut direction, incorrect feed rate or cut height, and wrong amperage cut process for thickness. On a well maintained Hi-Definition plasma machine with the correct cut settings, cuts should buttery smooth and straight with cut tapers under 1 degree.
This totally depends on the plasma power source and the cnc machine that it is mounted to. However generally speaking, with an X-Definiton plasma system like ours mild steel parts under ½” should be within +/-.030” and thicker parts within +/-.060”. There are some other factors such as thermal distortion on parts with high length to width ratios that will affect part tolerances.
Fiber laser is hands down the way to go. Fiber laser cutting became a mainstream cutting process in the last 10-15 years to replace the older CO2 laser technology. Fiber laser cutting using a much smaller wave length making it ideal for cutting reflective materials. Fiber laser utilizes a fiber optic delivery system rather than a complex system of mirrors with the CO2 system. Gas and electricity consumptions are a fraction of the newer fiber laser cutting technology making the fiber laser cutting the preferred choice.
We use our machine software to do this automatically but there are manual methods to do so. Here is an online calculator to help. Bend Allowance Calculator (omnicalculator.com)
As a general rule of thumb, the internal radius (IR) of an air bend is 12% of the V Die opening for Mild Steel. Ex. 4” V die would yield a .48” internal radius.
As a general rule of thumb, use 8x the material thickness for mild steel. Ex. ¼” thickness = 2” V die. If bending harder grades, use a larger ratio. Also, if you need to lower the tonnage, use a larger V die. Just make sure you check the blank length as it will change if you change the V die.
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