Plasma Cutting Vs. Laser Cutting: Which one is best for you in 2022?
Consumers now have a large range of cutting systems and equipment to choose from, which might be confusing. However, when it comes to high-volume metal cutting, plasma and laser devices are the most often used. With computer numeric control (CNC), plasma and laser cutting equipment has become more accurate. However, each machine has specific benefits and excels in particular applications. Our goal is to help you make the right decision by sharing the information you need to pick the best mechanism for your application.
Plasma Cutting Vs. Laser Cutting: Working Principles
To put it another way, a CNC plasma cutting machine is a machine that cuts metal with the help of an electric charge and pressurized gas. During the 1950s, plasma cutting technology was originally created to pierce metals that couldn’t be cut with flame. Plasma cutters use concentrated electrical currents and high-velocity gas flows, which are often oxygen or nitrogen.
Intense heat is generated, which melts a small hole in the metal. The molten substance is subsequently propelled upwards by the gas. Precision, speed, little heat impacted areas, and narrow cut slots are all advantages of plasma cutting for machine operators. Fabrication companies, building sites, car body shops, and other comparable businesses often employ plasma cutting equipment.
In laser-cutting, A powerful light beam is concentrated using laser optics and a computerized numerical control system (CNC) to cut with a laser. A tiny slit is created when the substance is vaporized, melted, or burned by the light source. Slag is blown out of the cutting hole by an auxiliary gas, avoiding the requirement for a further operation.
Using lasers in industrial production applications, flat-sheet metal to structural and pipe materials may be cut. Medium-thin plates are best suited to laser cutting. In addition, cutting materials include metal, non-metal (such as glass and ceramics), non-metallic (such as rubber and wood), and non-metallic (such as PVC and leather).
Plasma Cutting Vs. Laser Cutting: Materials For Cutting
When it comes to cutting heavy metal, plasma cutting devices are almost impossible to match. With a consumable set, plasma cutters can cut through metals up to 80mm thick and produce rapid, buttery smooth cuts with consistent edge quality and very little dross. Metal that has been oxidized or otherwise defective may be cut more easily with plasma cutters than it can be with lasers.
Plasma cutters are also more tolerant of certain sorts of materials. More than 200 IPM for 16 gauge mild steel and over 45 IPM for 1-inch thick mild steel may be achieved with plasma cutters with unit accuracies greater than 0.008″. When it comes to bevel cuts, plasma cutting machines are the best option since they can do them immediately on the machine. The process may be completed more quickly with no need for additional steps.
Comparable to plasma cutting, laser cutting has an advantage in its ability to cut a broad range of materials. Laser cutters can also work with wood, glass, porcelain, rubber, PVC, and even leather and textiles in addition to metal. Even though laser cutters’ kerf widths (0.006″ to 0.015″) are quite tiny, they excel at precise, delicate cuts like small holes and exquisite notching.
Lasers are more efficient in cutting thinner metals. When cutting light metals, laser equipment may achieve more than 1000 IPM and less than a one-degree cut edge squareness. However, the heat distortion caused by a laser is more noticeable on thicker plates. Aside from being more slower than plasma on most thicknesses, it also tends to be more expensive.
Plasma Cutting Vs. Laser Cutting: Features
The safe operation of plasma and laser cutters needs specialized equipment. Unlike lasers, which often have a safety cage surrounding the whole system, plasma cutting equipment necessitates personal safety measures to protect users from glare, noise, and fumes.
2. Initial Costs
As far as upfront costs are concerned, plasma can’t be topped to maximize your metal shop’s productivity. According to the model’s features and capabilities, machines with shop-quality CNC plasma cutting capabilities typically cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Laser, on the other hand, is a lot more costly.
A new laser cutter may cost anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million; however, secondhand laser cutters can be obtained for as little as $250,000. Plasma is much less costly than laser as an initial investment.
3. Operational Cost
When operating expenses like consumables, abrasive, electricity, gas, and periodic maintenance are considered, plasma still emerges as the undisputed champion. A typical CNC plasma cutting machine costs roughly $15/hour, whereas a standard laser cutting machine costs around $20/hour to run.
The safety issues outlined above push the cost of operating a laser cutting system. In the end, what is the difference between plasma and laser technology? Plasma is the most cost-effective.
This Hypertherm research may be useful if you cannot decide whether plasma or laser is better for your metal cutting operations. IN COMPARISON TESTING, the ISO ranges of X-Definition plasma cutters and fiber lasers were comparable throughout a wide range of mild steel thicknesses.
Plasma demonstrated a reduced average departure from the perpendicular and decreased variability in deviation while cutting through 6-mm thick mild steel, even after 1,000 starts. Mild steel at a thickness of 12mm yielded similar results. Additional advantages include a smoother finish, better perpendicularity, and better hole quality.
What is the difference between laser cutting and plasma cutting?
The two cutting methods are so similar that it’s difficult for many people to decide which is best. However, to prevent unnecessary misunderstanding, you should take into account three important elements.
1. Objects It Cuts
Plasma cutting has very few uses. In other words, laser cutting is the way to go if you need to cut everything from metals to rubber to wood to plastics to PVC to leather to organic glass to fabrics. On the other hand, plasma cutting is the best technique for cutting metals of any thickness, especially medium-thickness sheets.
You should also think about the amount of accuracy required for the work. If you want a cut with extreme accuracy, laser cutting is the way to go.
Choosing a certain cutting procedure is meaningless if your finances do not allow for it. The cost of plasma cutting is lower, so it’s an excellent option for those on a tight budget.
Which is more suitable, Plasma Cutting Vs. Laser Cutting? A plasma cutting machine is the obvious victor for most metalworking applications, regardless of the materials you’re cutting, the types of cuts you’ll be making, and your budget.
Since it is more expensive than other cutting methods, plasma provides rapid, high-quality, and precise cuts through any metal to eliminate laser risks. Plasma is the best option for cutting at a reasonable price.
Please contact us immediately if you’d like to learn more about the finest plasma cutting machine for your needs. With the assistance of our knowledgeable staff, you will learn about your choices and discover which equipment would work best in your workshop so that you can start building immediately.