If you need to cut a piece of metal for any type of project, you have several cutting options, and the best choice will depend on the specifics of your job. Metal can be cut with a variety of hand held tools, including a band saw or a plasma torch. However, most large jobs are done with computer numerical controlled (CNC) equipment. Three of the most common CNC methods are water jet cutting, plasma cutting, and Laser Cutting Seattle WA.
A water jet cutter uses a very high-pressure stream of water that is mixed with an abrasive material, like garnet or aluminum oxide. The water and grit mixture are forced at a very high pressure, and the jet is able to cut through a piece of metal beneath it. The main benefit of the water jet method is that it does not use heat; consequently, a water jet can cut into metal without changing its structure in any way. These cutters are able to make very precise and intricate cuts. They are also efficient tools, as the water, and abrasive material can both be recycled and reused.
A plasma cutter uses an electrical channel of ionized gas, or plasma, that cuts through the metal. The heat from the electricity melts through the metal being cut, and the compressed gas blows away the molten metal. These cutters are good for cutting curved shapes because they have a localized cone of heat. A CNC plasma cutting table can make very precise cuts, and it is preferred for cutting metals like carbon, stainless steel, and aluminum plate at a thickness of 1/8 of an inch to 3 inches.
Laser cutting uses a powerful, focused beam of light to burn or vaporize the metal to be cut and pressurized gas to blow away any metal scrap. Laser cutting is more precise and also more energy-efficient than plasma cutting, but it is better for thin metal than a thicker metal plate. A laser cutter can also be used for drilling, ablation, and welding. For more information about Laser Cutting Seattle WA, click here to learn about Specialty Metals.