Jorgenson Machine Tools offers Plasma and Plasma/Oxy-fuel cutting machines. These machines are suitable for manufactures that need to cut metal plates quickly and efficiently, especially thicker plates up to 3 inches.
Both Plasma and Oxy-fuel processes remove metal by heating it but each uses a different process to generate the thermal energy. Choosing the best machine depends on your specific application, the materials being cut and other circumstances.
Plasma cutting machines deliver good precision and cut qualities. On the other hands, a combination machine which can provide both oxy-fuel and plasma cutting expands your overall capabilities and eliminates the need for two machines, which saves both money and floor space.
The plasma cutters transfer energy from an electrical power source through a plasma cutting torch to the material being cut through by using electrically conductive gases such argon, hydrogen, nitrogen or mixtures, plus air and oxygen. This process uses the thermal energy of the plasma arc to melt the metal and pierce through the work piece. The high pressure gas flows through the kerf removing the molten material from the bottom of the cut.
Because of the intense heat generated by the plasma there is a substantial amount of smoke and fumes from the vaporizing metal in the kerf. Therefore, it is important to have proper ventilation in the area of the plasma cutting table.
Oxy fuel cutting use a combination of fuel gases and oxygen to cut metals. Using a torch as the heat source, the metal is heated until it reaches the temperature at which it will spontaneously ignite. At this point, a stream of oxygen is directed down onto the metal, turning it into a metal oxide.
Acetylene is the fuel most commonly used for Oxy fuel cutting but natural gas, propane, hydrogen, propylene, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) could also be used.
Fiber lasers and water-jet machines are alternatives to thermal cutting machines.
Cut Your Plate with a Plasma Cutter
“Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, the show’s about to begin. What you’ll witness here tonight is nothing short of elemental majesty.” That could well be your story line if you ever get a chance to show a person who has never seen a plasma cutting table in action, one that is cutting as they watch. First impressions are everything they say, and most people who see a plasma cutter in action are usually duly impressed. We think it dates back to the old “fire and brimstone” theory that humans are attracted to influences from our far distant past. What kind of “elemental activity” are we talking about anyway? Well, just kinda of like taking temperatures in the range of 20,000 degrees centigrade — the kind that heats up stuff to the temperature of the sun — and slice through thick steel like it was butter. Elemental enough for ya?
How Did This Whole Plasma Cutter Thing Get Started Anyway?
As it turns out, the history of plasma cutting machines is not that long. The first reference to plasma anything was in the mid 1960’s as plasma welding began to get popular. Because of that initial use of plasma, some in the machinery industry wondered if that wouldn’t be a great way to cut metal. The very first plasma cutting machines were only able to cut plate about 20 mm thick. Even with that initial limitation, plasma plate or sheet cutting machines were beginning to make their mark out in the shops. The previously widely used method was oxy-fuel machines, commonly referred to as simply “burn tables.”
The comparisons between the two methods began immediately; unfortunately for the oxy-fuel tables the writing was on the wall. Plasmas were faster, had less consumable use of gasses, and emitted less atmospheric pollution than did the old burn table. In addition to all that, the plasma cut plate exhibited less edge effect from the cutting process, such as unintended edge hardening, rough cut, or color changes on some metals. It was circa 1990 or there about when the first CNC-controlled plasma cutting machines came on the market. These newly re-engineered plate cutters could now do intricate designs or patterns and decide how to cut your parts, eliminating the most amount of scrap. Shortly after the introduction of CNC controllers on plasma cutters, the ability to bevel material became a reality, and along with that came clean, circular hole making ability.
Plasma plate cutting machines can be had in almost any size the customer might need. On the big end, you have companies in the ship building industry, the municipal projects industry, and ultra large, sometimes multi-national, construction firms. Plasma tables account for the highest tonnage cutting done in the U.S. every year. One of the predominate reasons for this is that these machines cut some massive piece parts. When you are building an ocean-going ship, builders generally like as few outer seams as they can get. Some plate processing equipment located at the shipyards can be as large as 80' wide by 120' long. The length of the processing machine is really only restricted by your required accuracy. Typical accuracies are an astounding + or – 1/8 of an inch in 100 feet! There is something else these big plasma machines do quite well, that is burn their way through up to 6-inch-thick plate of high tensile strength steel. Alloys are also cut by the plasma machine with relative ease, including most stainless steels (with a few exceptions due to a high reflectivity issue).
What Are the Plasma Cutters of Today Like? Why Would I Want One?
The benefits of plasma are plentiful:
- Economy of operation,
- Speed of cutting,
- CNC controls that make using this machine a cinch to learn,
- Less supporting equipment needed to operate (therefore needing less floor space),
- Simple cutting heads with little to no maintenance,
- Machine sizes that cover the needs of every cutting operation, from a small 4' by 4' square table to table sizes big enough to put you into the ship building business.
With all the positives mentioned above, there is a new wrinkle out there beginning to show up on certain makes of current plasma cutters, namely both plate and tube processing capabilities now combined on the same machine. You heard us right: the ability to cut plate for one job and tube on the next — this combo plasma cutter can really amp up a company’s cutting capability.
Who Can Support This Kind of Technology?
The short answer is Jorgenson Machine Tools in Salt Lake City, Utah. Regardless of where you are in the Intermountain West, our competent and experienced sales consultants can meet with you and discuss a solution to your machinery need. With 50 years in business, our experience selling plate processing machines (such as plasma cutters) goes back to the day they became available to the industry. Our service department is ready to install and train your operators on the finer points of the specific machine. Our parts department is considerable and more importantly, stocked with the right parts at the right time. Our customer associates are experienced and willing to help our customers at every turn. Jorgenson Machine Tools is the total package from first contact to final satisfaction. That’s why we like to say: Jorgenson Machine Tools, “Strong on Customer Service”