Plasma cutting technology
Plasma cutters are used for cutting/ fabricating large sheets of metal goods. As with other metal fabricating technology, Plasma cutting machines integrate CNC (computer numerical control) technology to give Plasma machines greater flexibility to cut diverse shapes based on programmed instructions on the numerical control.
Plasmas cut any electrically heatable metals including stainless and mild steel, aluminium, copper and brass. Plasmas can cut metals ranging in thicknesses from 1 mm – 80mm in thickness at profiling speeds of up to 20 meters a minute.
Between Laser and Plasma cutting, Plasmas are more efficient at cutting metals ranging from 11mm – 25mm thick and above. This holds true in terms of speed, quality of cut and power consumption.
Power and Fuel sources
Plasma is created by adding energy to an electrically neutral gas. As this is the case plasmas are fuelled by electricity and gases which include nitrogen, oxygen and argon to create plasma.
Laser cutting technology
CO2 Lasers can cut acrylics, wood and metals except copper, brass and aluminium as these are reflective metals and causes potentially harmful back reflection on the machine. Fibre lasers on the other hand can cut all types of metal including reflective types as the beam produced from a fibre laser is much more readily absorbed. Fibre lasers however cannot cut plastics or wood.
Most modern laser cutters can achieve precision of 0.1mm and cut at speeds of up to 25m per minute. Due to its precision laser cutting is very useful for any type of cutting that requires intricate detailing and precise dimensions.
Laser cutters will generally cut up to 25 mm thickness in metals and amongst Laser, plasma and oxyfuel cutting, lasers are the most efficient in cutting metals ranging from 0.5mm – 10mm thick. This holds true in terms of speed, quality of cut and power consumption.
Power and Fuel sources
CO2 lasers run on electricity which is discharged through a mixture of gases comprising of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and helium to generate laser beams. Fibre laser on the other hand do not require laser gas to perform cutting and only require electrical power.
Plasma vs Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is generally more precise and accurate than plasma cutting whilst also being faster and providing better quality cuts on thinner metals up to 10 mm thickness.
Both Plasma’s and fibre lasers can cut all types of metal including reflective metals such as aluminium and copper whereas CO2 lasers cannot as a major portion of the laser would be reflected back. CO2 lasers however, whilst not being able to cut reflective metals can effectively cut woods and acrylics which both fibre lasers and plasmas cannot.
While Laser cutting provides the advantage of using less energy and being more precise than plasma’s when cutting thinner section metals, industrial lasers are generally not as efficient as Plasmas when cutting thicker metal sheets. Laser machines generally only cut up to 25mm thickness whereas Plasma machines will cut up to 80 mm. Also once the metal thickness being cut exceeds 10 mm, plasma machines start to provide a better quality cut and use less power than lasers machines.