Heavy duty industries like automobile and iron factories cut and weld metal every day. However, cutting metal is a lot more difficult process than anything else you can imagine cutting with a machine, because heavy metals like iron and steel are not only thick, but durable as well. So, when you try to make small pieces from a large metal sheet, the material resists your efforts heavily.
It’s hard to maintain accuracy and clean finish, but those things are necessary because even a millimeter’s difference cannot throw things out of whack. Suppose you are manufacturing an iron gate that needs to be 6 feet wide to fit perfectly. If due to any mistake during the cutting process the iron plate becomes one or two millimeter smaller or larger, all the hard work will go in vain.
Therefore, it’s very important to choose the right machine for cutting thick metals. There are mainly two types of popular metal-cutting machines available in the market: plasma and oxy fuel. Some people may praise plasma and it surely offers some benefits, but if you are going to cut substantial metal sheets, then nothing is better than an oxy-fuel cutting machine.
What is oxy-fuel cutting?
It is a chemical reaction between pure oxygen and steel to generate iron oxide. The metal is heated using flames that result from the reaction. When the temperature reaches 1800 F, pure oxygen is applied in a constant stream and this process cuts the metal.
Can I use this process to cut any metal?
Not really! Oxy-fuel cutting machine can be used for lower melting metal. That means only low-carbon steel and a few low quality alloys can be cut with the help of an oxy-fuel cutting machine.
Metal-cutting with Oxy Fuel
Oxy-fuel cutting machines utilizes some sort of the gas with the flame to make the cut possible. While professionals prefer oxygen for the job, a range of other gases can be used as well. For example, if oxygen is costly or not in stock, you can use hydrogen, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas, propane, and Propylene.
Another key tool for oxy-fuel cutting is the cutting torch. This torch is different from a welding torch. It has three pipes and has a trigger. When you pull the trigger, oxygen is applied to the metal. Injector torches can also be used for oxy-fuel cutting. It amalgamates oxygen and the gas together, in the head of the torch.
Oxygen plays the most crucial role in this cutting method. It combines the fluid chemically to generate massive heat. Some call this chemical reaction oxidation, while some prefer to call it combustion.
There are a few vital things you need to remember while using an oxy-fuel cutting machine. Oxygen must be used at just the right flow rate and in a steady stream for a perfect cut. If the supply of oxygen is low, it will result in a slow, uneven cut. On the other hand, if too much oxygen is used, it will result in a wide, dipped cut and the valuable gas will be wasted.
Why oxy fuel and not plasma?
As I have already mentioned, if you regularly cut thick metal sheets, then oxy-fuel cutting machines are ideal for your business. Do you want to know how powerful it is? Well, an oxy fuel cutter can slice through a 24-inch (2 feet) thick metal plates like knife in butter. The machine is highly portable and does not require any power source to operate. So, there is no additional electricity bill. It can also improve productivity level.
For example, if you try to make a 4-inch wide slice of a 2-inch thick metal, a plasma machine will take approximately 1 minute to complete the job, but that same thing can be done within 20 seconds with the help of oxy-fuel cutting machine.
However, oxy-fuel metal-cutting tools do have one shortcoming: you can’t cut aluminum or stainless steel using oxy fuel cutting machine. But, the oxy-fuel metal-cutting technique has been perfect over the last century, and for most metal-cutting needs, oxy-fuel cutting machines are the natural choice.