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Laser Cutting vs. Plasma Cutting

When it comes to metal fabrication, cutting is a vitally important part of the process. When cutting metal, two primary methods are utilized: laser cutting and plasma cutting. Though both methods are proven, trusted, and effective, each offers a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. As experts in fabrication and welding, the team at LWS Manufacturing & Welding understands the importance of using the right method. To determine which option is best for your needs, we have provided a detailed comparison of laser cutting vs. plasma cutting.

What is Plasma Cutting?

There are many benefits of CNC plasma cutting that make it an effective choice for many industries and purposes. Plasma cutting is an older method that utilizes ionized gas and an electric arc to create plasma. This plasma is then used to cut through all types of metal by melting the section it is in contact with. Plasma cutting can be used to cut through steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and other conductive metals. Plasma CNC machines are often used in fabrication shops, automotive repair facilities, and industrial construction.

What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is a newer method that utilizes one of two different types of lasers: CO2 and fibre. Fibre lasers are ideal for precise cuts on any type of thin metal, while CO2 is often used for thicker materials. It should be noted that CO2 cannot be used to cut reflective surfaces (copper, aluminum, brass, etc.), but it can be used to cut wood and acrylics. In addition to cutting, lasers can be used for engraving, welding, drilling, and more. Laser CNC machines are often used in industrial manufacturing applications.

Comparing Laser Cutting and Plasma Cutting

The following aspects should be considered when choosing between plasma or laser cutting:

Cost

Laser CNC machines are typically more expensive than plasma due to requiring more maintenance and more expensive technology.

Cutting Abilities

Plasma cutters can cut through thick sheets of metal while laser CNC machines tend to be better for thinner metals. Laser cutting is often better for precise detail work while plasma cutting is great for large simple cuts.

Suitable Materials

Plasma cutting can only be used on conductive materials while laser cutting can be used to cut wood, plastic, glass, and other materials. That said, laser cutting is not suitable for reflective materials.

Speed and Efficiency

Laser cutting is faster for thin materials, but plasma offers consistent speed for thin or thick materials. Laser and plasma cutting options can utilize CNC systems to optimize accuracy and efficiency.

To learn more about plasma cutting, laser cutting, and metal fabrication, get in touch with the team at LWS Manufacturing & Welding. We can be reached through our online contact form and will work with you to provide the perfect solution for your needs.