What is the difference between laser and plasma profile applications?
Laser is more precise than the plasma and uses less energy when cutting steel and aluminum sheets. Are you torn between choosing a laser or plasma cutting system? Each system uses a different method to cut material, and each has its benefits and disadvantages.
It’s not an easy decision to make as there are a lot of factors to consider; the initial outlay and running costs, the efficiency of the system, and the impact on your bottom line, not to mention the staff impact.
A closer look at each method will give a little more insight into the general benefits and disadvantages of each, helping you to make an informed choice. Read on to find out which cutting technology will best suit your business.
How does Plasma work?
A range of consumables works together at the business end of plasma to perform the cutting process. The nozzle gives focus to the plasma arc and funnels the gas flow while the electrode carries the current. Swirl rings work to allow the gasses exiting the rings to be at different temperatures, removing heat from the electrode, the whole assembly is housed within the shields and shield caps.
Plasma cutting requires only minimal operator training and is easy to operate with no potentially complicated adjustments. However, in addition to high energy radiation generated by plasma, the intense heat creates substantial quantities of fumes and smoke from vaporizing metal, so again, a well-ventilated work area is a must.
What can it cut?
Plasma can be used for cutting metals such as stainless steel, aluminum and copper, of varying thicknesses. It can cut both ferrous and nonferrous metals, but non-conductive materials such as wood or plastic cannot be cut with a plasma cutter. Plasma is faster than laser cutting systems for thickness over 3mm, but a minor drawback is that plasma typically leaves a 4-6-degree bevel on the cut edge; which can be more noticeable on thicker pieces.
How does laser machines work?
Laser cutting is all about accuracy and efficiency, the nozzle gives incredible focus to the beam of light using a curved lens to create a spherical pinpoint of light aided by compressed gasses. When it is focussed on to material it simply vaporizes it into gas, making laser cutting perfect for accuracy and intricacy.
The laser cutting machine requires only minimal human intervention, mainly for programming, inspections and repairs. Therefore, the frequency of injuries and accidents is minimal, although too close contact with the laser can cause burns. Laser cutting of materials such as plastics can cause gas emissions when exposed to heat, which means that a well-ventilated room is vital as the gases can be harmful and toxic.
What can it cut?
The laser is a little more wide-ranging and versatile than plasma in the variety of materials it can cut. All plastics, glass, ceramics, rubber, wood and most metals can be cut with speed and accuracy with a laser. It also allows complex detail and good edge quality in sheet, plate, and tube or box section.
The laser is more precise than the plasma and the waterjet system and uses less energy when cutting steel and aluminum sheets. Historically laser cutting has not been as efficient as its plasma counterpart. That is no longer the case thanks to advances in technology.
Those same advances have now made laser machines much more affordable, as a result, more and more companies are now using their own in-house laser machines instead of expensive outsourcing.
To learn more about our laser machines and plasma ranges, please get in touch today.