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Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting

Sheet metal components can be cut using various cutting techniques. A frequently asked question is how laser cutting compares with plasma cutting. Various factors need to be taken into account when weighing up the option between laser cutting and plasma cutting, including material, material thickness, the importance of quality and tolerances.


Laser Cutting Process

A fiber laser, suitable for the cutting of metals, coated metals and plastics, amplifies a laser beam that is generated by diodes in energy supplied glass fibers. The laser beam will then be focused through a lens cutting the sheet metal.

Plasma Cutting Process

Gas like oxygen, nitrogen or argon, is forced at high speed through a small nozzle in the direction of the sheet metal. Electrically conductive channel of plasma is created through the means of an external power supply to form an electric arc within the gas. Enough heat is generated through the electricity supplied by the cutter torch, travelling down the plasma, to cut through the sheet metal.

Advantages of Plasma and Laser Cutting

Laser Cutting Plasma Cutting
Excellent edge quality No or little bur formation
Cut width is narrow Narrow heat-affected zone
Small heat-affected zone Cut surface will have a low square tolerance
The smoothness and squareness of the cut surface are better than that of other cutting techniques High quality cut edge
High quality speed Smoth cut surface
holes are easily cut into the profile plate Wide range of materials can be cut

Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting

Plasma Cutting Laser Cutting
Angle Deviation 4 to 8° Output is very clean, small and focused
Kerf width 1.5 to 2 times greater than the diameter of the nozzle outlet. Small kerf widths, <0.002"
Heat affected zone Varies depending on the material Small Zone
Cut Quality Advantage
Thickness/material capability Advantage
Flexibility Advantage
Automation Advantage
Economical and efficient Advantage
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