There are a number of methods one can use to cut mild steel plate; but a number of considerations must be taken into account to determine the best cutting method such as the thickness of the plate, the accuracy and edge-quality requirement and other factors.
Here, we will briefly discuss plasma cutting and water-jet cutting, with each having its own advantages.
Plasma is considered a ‘4th state-of-matter’ when compared to solids, liquids and gases; and unknown to many, this material is one of the most prevalent states-of-matter in existence. Plasma is a collection of charged particles and can best be described as an electrically-heated gas-stream. It can melt and blow through most metals with ease, via the use of a specialized torch, which produces an accelerated jet of hot plasma. Plasma-cutting has a reputation for being the most efficient cutting process on carbon steel, aluminum or stainless steel, as well as offering high speed and preciseness.
The plasma torch used in plasma-cutting utilizes an alloy copper nozzle to constrict the gas stream and concentrate the energy to a designated area. This can be simplistically compared to a magnifying glass which concentrates the sun’s energy to produce a high level of heat to be applied in designated locations.
Regarding precision and intricacy, plasma cutting has the capacity to perform exactness on gauge material up to 6-inch stainless though does a marvelous job of cutting thinner materials less than ½ inch, as well. Plasma can cut a vast array of shapes; and as technology advances, plasma cutting advances right along with it where near-laser precision can be achieved on plasma-cut edges.
Water-jet cutting, like plasma cutting, is known for its success with cutting mild steel, and produces a smooth and very accurate cut. Unlike plasma cutting, water-jet cutting is not limited in thickness and can easily handle thicker material up to 10”. While plasma uses a jet of hot plasma, water-jet cutting uses a high-pressure jet of good old H2O. Frequently, an abrasive will be added to the water to more-easily cut through harder metals; and those abrasives can include garnet and aluminum oxide. When no abrasives are added, the water-only solution is used for cutting through softer materials such as wood, leather, rubber, etc.
Water-jet cutting is a much-used cutting process due to the quality finish it creates since there is no burning or melting that results. Some materials, such as aluminum and exotic metals, would be damaged with the use of very high heat; and with water-jet cutting, very little heat is generated or even transferred to the work material. Even compared to plasma cutting, water-jet cutting leaves a smoother, more sandblasted appearance which lends itself, perfectly, for items such as custom gates where aesthetics is a top priority.
The seasoned craftsmen at Aberdeen Custom Gate & Iron are extremely well-versed in Plasma and Water-jet cutting and use both procedures to achieve the best of both worlds. In the end, heirloom-quality products – whether for business or personal use – become stunning, one-of-kind works of art to be enjoyed for many years to come.