A couple of questions. What are you going to cut, and how thick is it?
I will be referencing handheld metal cutting tools, and will be speaking "typically", for there are many variables!
Lets talk about Oxyfuel (flame) first.
Oxyfuel is not a gas. It is a combination of oxygen and a fuel (gas), typically acetylene because it produces the greatest heat.
Advantages over Plasma metal cutting equipment include . . .
Can Cut thicker materials.
More portable, because of power requirements for plasma.
Does not require electricity.
No hazard of electrocution.
No danger or arc flash burns to the eyes.
No high frequency interference.
It can be used for bending or annealing.
Initially less expensive.
Great, now what about the plasma cutter?
First, what is plasma?
Some say it is the fourth state of matter! Solids, liquids, gases, and . . . plasma.
It is a gas that, without going into the science of it all, has had it's atoms ionized, enabling it to conduct electricity.
To simply explain a plasma cutter, this gas spins around an electrode and becomes "charged" and heated causing it to greatly expand in volume. As this expanded, heated gas (plasma) exits the small tip of the torch, it accelerates up to approximately 13,500 miles per hour, at temperatures up to 30,000 degrees Farenheit.
Now, you and I both know what this metal cutting equipment is going to do to the metal being cut! It's going to melt that metal in a very restricted area. The force of the plasma arc removes the molten metal. Zip-o, cut-o.
Ok, very interesting! Help me to understand the advantages of plasma over oxyfuel cutting.
Can cut Aluminum Alloys and stainless steel, and any other conductive material typically thinner than 1/2". Because of the Properties of Stainless Steel, aluminum, and some other alloys, an oxide layer prevents effective cutting with oxyfuel.
Nice cut requiring little cleanup.
With the right tip, plasma does a little better job at gouging.
With both of these metal cutting tools, safety is a "big" deal. Protective clothing is essential. Keeping combustibles away from the flame, or sparks must not be overlooked.
Also slag clean up is the rule, not the exception.
Remember, these comparisons are meant to be "typical".
For less precise cuts, this technology is a very viable option!
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