How to Select the best cutting machine?

Plasma cutting machines.

Cutting machines include a working table and a frame supporting the cutting head. They are used to cut plates, sheets, sections or panels of materials.

Depending upon the material to be cut and the production specifications, you can select between a number of cutting technologies such as laser cutting, water-jet cutting, plasma cutting, etc .

Please note that sawing machines are not covered in this guide.

How to choose a cutting machine?

In order to select the right cutting machine for your requirements, you need to firstly base your choice on the main attributes of the material( s) to be cut.

To provide just a few examples, metal cutting machines, plastic cutting machines, fabric cutting machines and wood cutting machines do not all use the same technology.

You will likewise require to select a machine adjusted in relation to the thickness to be cut and with a work table with measurements adjusted to the parts to be cut.

You should select the cutting technology based on the accuracy you will need, the quality of the cut and the wanted performance.

What are the primary kinds of cutting technology?

To cut metals, you can choose in between laser cutting, plasma cutting, electrical discharge machining and oxyacetylene cutting. For rigid materials, metallic or otherwise, you can turn to water-jet cutting which allows you to cut thick products.

If you require to cut softer materials such as fabric, leather, soft plastic, paper or cardboard, you might be thinking about knife cutting.

You will find a table listed below summarizing the compatibility of the various types of technology with the main commercial products:

Plasma Laser Water-jet Electrical discharge machining
(EDM)
Oxyacetylene Knife
Steel x x x x x
Stainless steel x x x x x
Aluminum x x x x x
Copper x x x x
Brass x x x x
Hard plastic x x
Soft plastic x x
Leather x x x
Textile x x x
Glass x x
Ceramic x x
Wood x

When should you pick a laser cutting machine?

fiber laser cutting machine type c

Laser cutting machines use the heat given off by a laser beam directed by mirrors or fiber optics.

Depending on the kind of laser, you can cut various types of materials.

CO2 laser cutting machines are typically utilized for cutting plastic, foam, wood, glass, fabric or soft steel.

A CO2 laser can not cut reflective metals such as copper or brass. The more powerful fiber laser cutting machines are reserved for cutting sheet metal, steel, stainless-steel, aluminum and some plastics.

Laser cutting enables you to cut different materials without needing to alter tools, simply by setting the laser criteria.

It is a really precise procedure, with a really little notch width permitting intricate contours.

Depending upon the material to be cut, the cutting speed can be really fast.

Laser cutting machines are fully automated and need very little human intervention, which considerably limits the risk of mishaps. The main constraint of laser cutting is its shallow cutting depth of around 25 millimeters.

As a result, the primary applications of laser cutting are the manufacture of sheet metal (particularly for the automotive market) and frames (for electrical cabinets, computers, and so on).

For workpieces thicker than 25 mm, plasma cutting is the most appropriate method. The area heated by the laser beam is not huge, but because it goes through a strong temperature level increase, it can end up being extremely warped.

Laser cutting produces gaseous emissions, so it is crucial to guarantee that the room in which the machine lies is well aerated.

Main advantages:

  • High cutting precision
  • High speed
  • Excellent cutting quality
  • Low sound level
  • Low vibration

When should you pick a plasma cutting machine?

Plasma Cutting Machine Banner

Plasma cutting machines are only utilized for ferrous (steel, stainless-steel, etc.) and non-ferrous metals( brass, copper, aluminium, and so on) with an optimum thickness of 160 mm.

The principle of plasma cutting is relatively near that of TIG welding: it involves creating an electric arc that ionizes a gas projected through a nozzle in between the electrode and the workpiece to be cut.

For plasma cutting air, argon, nitrogen, oxygen or hydrogen are usually utilized.

Despite the gas utilized, you will need to replace the nozzle and electrode regularly.

Plasma cutting is much faster than laser cutting for medium or thick plates, and is faster than oxyacetylene cutting for thin or medium plates.

In basic, plasma cutting is appropriate for cutting plates of thick metal.

Portable plasma cutting machines are available for area applications.

Because of the heat produced and the fumes from the vaporized metal, plasma cutting can just be performed in extremely well aerated areas or outdoors.

Main characteristics:

  • Thick metal cutting (approximately 160 mm).
  • High speed.
  • Needs good ventilation.
  • Regular nozzle and electrode replacement.

When should you select a water-jet cutting machine?

Water-jet cutting machines utilize water pressure to cut all kinds of materials (other than tempered glass which would shatter under the pressure) approximately 600 mm thick.

Nevertheless, we encourage you to restrict yourself to cutting workpieces no thicker than 200 mm in order to keep the proper cutting speed and accuracy with this method

For soft products, i.e. those that might be cut with a blade, you can use pure water.

For harder materials, nevertheless, you should use a liquid made from water containing an abrasive.

For soft products, the lack of abrasives extends tool life. Water-jet cutting does not deform the workpiece (no deformation due to a rise in temperature level) and the cut edges are soft and glossy

Nevertheless, it is a rather loud procedure.

Cutting can be reasonably quickly in a straight line, however decreases greatly when there are reversals.

Investing in a water-jet cutting machine is a high cost, however is still more budget friendly than a laser cutting machine.

Main characteristics:

  • Really flexible, cuts all kinds of materials.
  • No contortion of the workpiece.
  • High noise level.
  • Low speed when the cut is not straight.

When should you pick an oxyacetylene cutting machine?

Oxyacetylene cutting machines send a blast of pure oxygen onto molten metal to perform cutting.

This technique can only be used for certain types of steel, but has the advantage that it can cut plates as much as 400 mm thick. It is a reasonably slow process, but there are machines that incorporate a number of oxyacetylenel cutting torches that operate in parallel to increase efficiency.

Main qualities:

Can just be used for steel.

Cutting thickness approximately 400 mm.

Low cutting speed.

When should you select an EDM cutting machine?

EDM cutting machines, also understood as stimulate disintegration machines, are used for machining conductive materials.

They can make really exact cuts on parts with an optimum thickness of 300 mm.

The concept is to get rid of product from the workpiece utilizing electrical shocks.

This procedure is suggested for cutting very hard metals, such as solidified steel.

Main characteristics:

High cutting precision.

Can just be used on metals.

Cutting of really hard metals.

When should you pick a knife cutting machine?

A knife cutting machine can cut soft materials such as material, leather, vinyl, etc.

with thicknesses of approximately 50 mm.

For higher densities, it is much better to choose a water-jet cutting machine.

This technique enables high-precision cuts, but needs that the tool (the knife) be altered routinely.

This procedure is also utilized for product packaging products such as paper and cardboard.

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