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How Does Oxy-Fuel Cutting Work?

CNC plasma Cutting

At Tactical CNC, we talk often about the advantages of plasma cutting, laser cutting, and oxy-fuel cutting.  And, while they each have their own unique advantages, it is important to understand how the cutting process works so that you can be certain you are choosing the best cutting method for your needs.  Oxy-fuel is known for being the ideal tool when fabricating thicker materials – but why?  How does oxy-fuel work and how does it manage to fabricate thick materials better than other methods?

First, it is important to understand the science behind oxy-fuel cutting.  ESAB explains the science behind oxy-fuel cutting, “Oxy-fuel cutting is a chemical reaction between pure oxygen and steel to form iron oxide. It can be described as rapid, controlled rusting. Preheat flames are used to raise the surface or edge of the steel to approximately 1800°F (bright red color). Pure oxygen is then directed toward the heated area in a fine, high pressure stream. As the steel is oxidized and blown away to form a cavity, the preheat and oxygen stream are moved at constant speed to form a continuous cut. Only metals whose oxides have a lower melting point than the base metal itself can be cut with this process. Otherwise as soon as the metal oxidizes it terminates the oxidation by forming a protective crust. Only low carbon steel and some low alloys meet the above condition and can be cut effectively with the oxy-fuel process.”

When investing in a CNC plasma cutting system for your metal fabrication shop, you may have a desire to add material thickness flexibility so that you can fabricate different materials as needed.  By investing in a system that achieve both CNC plasma cutting and oxy-fuel cutting, you maximize your investment and keep your options open should you need to fabricate thicker materials.  The Fabricator explains why adding an oxo-fuel station to your CNC plasma cutting system is a good investment, “With plasma, optimizing torch height during arc start and setting height after piercing greatly extends consumables life and is critical for lowering cut cost. Further, the CNCs for plasma systems have numerous capabilities (such as nesting programs that reduce the number of pierces and cutting routines that produce bolt-ready holes) to lower cutting costs. Finally, the standard configuration for modern CNCs lets them manage up to four oxyfuel torches and two plasma torches on the same gantry. Even if you plan to use the plasma process most of the time, you can choose to equip tables with at least one oxyfuel torch for those instances when you run into thicker steel (see Figure 7). Adding an oxyfuel torch to a plasma system may add less than 10 percent to the total cost, and it can provide a good payback when it’s needed.”

Latest News

Still need an oxy-fuel station for the really thick plate?
Not a problem.
Tactical CNC introduces a single oxy-fuel station to compliment your plasma cutting system.
With the new Tactical 5 software, oxy-fuel parameters are also loaded for operator convienience.

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