When you hire steel fabricators in Phoenix, AZ for your welding and cutting needs, there are two options for manipulating steel and aluminum. They include flame cutting and plasma cutting. Both work for a variety of applications, but some are more appropriate for one or the other. It often depends on whether you require brute force or precision. Here are five differences between flame and plasma cutting:
- The ways they work: Each method works on a different theory. Flame cutting uses gas with oxygen or gasoline to produce a flame that cuts through metal. It is a direct cutting method that offers no room for subtlety—you either cut through the metal or you do not. When a project demands dramatic cuts, we use flame cutting. Plasma cutting uses a plasma arc that produces molten metal to achieve cuts or texture. It is used for precision jobs and produces cuts as well as embellishment.
- Types of cuts: Flame cutting is less refined. It produces dip angles and heats metal beyond the areas that are cut. This produces slag, and many times, secondary processing and treatment is necessary. Plasma cutting is perfect precision. There is little to no slag and only the cut area is heated. It often does not require additional processing unless the specific project demands it.
- Production speed: When welders use flame cutting, they must work slowly. There is a larger chance of injury because fire is involved, and there is a long preheat time before they can start cutting. Flame cutting projects also tend to involve larger and heavier objects, which also increases risk, so caution is important. Plasma cutting equipment heats up immediately and is ready to work sooner. Even though it produces exacting work, it works fast and is especially optimal for piercing and stamping jobs.
- Cost: Of the two methods, plasma cutting is the less expensive. It demands fewer labor hours and the risk of errors is much lower. Equipment is easy to handle, so the impressive precision it is known for is actually easy to obtain. Flame cutting is still low-cost, but since it is a more aggressive method that requires more time from the welder, you will likely pay more for it due to its labor requirements. Costs rise further if the metal needs to be reprocessed after cutting.
- Types of projects: You will find flame cutting most often used in projects involving customized heavy machinery. It works well on carbon steel and metal alloys, which are used most often for these jobs. Plasma cutting is an excellent method for decorative fencing, art projects and precise jobs, like delicate machine parts. It can cut through thick metals, but is not ideal for the metal alloys used for the heaviest equipment. Basically, the larger the parts for cutting, the more likely you will use flame cutting over plasma cutting.
You will find skilled steel fabricators in Phoenix, AZ at Metal Pro Inc. Call us today to discuss your project!