What is the Difference Between Laser and Plasma Cutting?

A Silver Cut Plasma Table by Machitech

In the custom metal fabrication world, laser cutting and plasma cutting are both highly popular options that offer unique benefits. Laser cutting operates by focusing an intense beam of light onto the material, causing it to melt, vaporize, or burn away, resulting in precise and clean cuts. Alternatively, plasma cutting relies on the creation of ionized gas, or plasma, which is directed through a nozzle at high speeds onto the material, melting it and creating a cut. Both methods offer varying levels of precision, speed, and suitability for diverse types of metals and materials.

In this article, we will compare the distinctive attributes of these metal fabrication marvels.

Laser Cutting: Remarkable Precision

Originating in the 1960s and evolving into an industrial staple in the 1970s, laser cutting is a method that stands out because of its precision. It’s used in industries like aerospace, textiles, and sheet metal because it offers exceptionally clean cuts.

Some of the advantages of laser cutting include:

  • It provides unmatched precision and clean edges.
  • It can be used for many different metals, including steel, aluminum, tungsten, brass, and nickel.
  • It can also be used for non-metals such as ceramics, wood, and silicon.

The disadvantages of laser cutting include:

  • It can require a higher initial investment due to its innovative technology.
  • It’s limited in thickness capacity compared to plasma cutting.
  • It offers slower cutting speeds on thicker materials.

Plasma Cutting: Offering Greater Flexibility

Plasma cutting was introduced in the 1950s and revolutionized metal fabrication by using ionized gas to melt metal. Its advantages over traditional methods included less waste, cleaner edges, and the absence of burn marks. As technology advanced, plasma cutting grew in popularity, particularly in the 1980s.

The notable advantages of plasma cutting are:

  • High cutting speeds, especially on thicker materials.
  • Effectiveness on electrically conductive metals like aluminum, copper, and stainless steel.
  • Superior thickness capacity compared to laser cutting.

Drawbacks include:

  • It’s less precise than laser cutting.
  • It generates significant heat and can distort some materials.
  • It only works on electrically conductive materials.

CNC Plasma Cutting Machines From Machitech

CNC technology has brought significant advancements to the steel fabrication industry, resulting in exceptional levels of craftsmanship. Employing computer-aided design and manufacturing processes, CNC systems deliver consistent cuts with precise dimensions, eliminating the risk of human errors.

Machitech is proud to be a provider of advanced plasma cutting systems of all types and sizes. We offer state-of-the-art solutions that can meet your production demands, and we’ll also provide comprehensive training for your operators.

Contact Machitech today if you’d like to learn more about the CNC plasma cutting systems we manufacture.