Handheld plasma cutting machines and oxy fuel cutting are both very common methods for metal fabrication and repair. Which technology is best? Here are some pros and cons of each.
Pros & Cons of Plasma Cutting Machines
- Can be used to cut any electrically-conductive material (steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, etc.).
- No pre-heat is required. Simply pull the trigger and cut.
- Ability to use a drag shield or standoff to maintain perfect tip to work distance.
- No combustible gases are needed.
- Faster cut speed on thin material.
- Can only cut relatively thin material (<1” in most cases).
- More expensive equipment.
- Requires electricity (120VAC or 240VAC for most systems).
- Requires an air compressor or large volume of bottled gas.
- Cannot be used for heating or brazing.
Pros & Cons of Oxy Fuel Cutting
- Can cut very thick material (<10” in most cases).
- Can be used to heat or braze.
- Doesn’t require electricity.
- Inexpensive equipment.
- Faster cut on thick material.
- Requires combustible gases (acetylene, propane, etc.).
- The workpiece must be pre-heated prior to cutting.
- Can only be used to cut carbon steel.
- Slower cut speed than on thin material.
- Requires more skill to use effectively.
Plasma is the overwhelming choice over oxy fuel on material under about half an inch in most cases. Oxy-fuel torches aren’t going away anytime soon, though. With the versatility they offer to do much more than cutting, we inevitably find ourselves wheeling them out from time to time for jobs where plasma just can’t cut it (pun intended).
Now that you know the pros of plasma cutting outweigh the cons, you may want to look at high-efficiency options for plasma cutting applications. At American Torch Tip well offer an unmatched line of plasma cutting torches & consumables with less than 2º bevel and minimal dross. For more information about plasma cutting, you can view our plasma cutting overview page to learn what plasma cutting products may be right for you.