Plasma cutting is most commonly known for its ability to cut stainless steel, but you may be wondering if it can also be used to cut aluminium.
Within the below blog, you will discover if plasma cutting systems have the ability to effectively cut aluminium as well as how you can achieve a high-quality, clean cut.
Can you use a plasma cutter on aluminium?
Yes, you can use plasma cutting machines to cut through aluminium as it is an electrically conductive metal. Typically, plasma cutting can be used to cut through aluminium that is less than 6 inches thick, with the thicker the metal, the harder it is to cut through.
If you are interested to know more about how plasma cutters are able to cut aluminium and other conductive metals, then it is by using a concentrated stream of ionised gases that creates heat and essentially melts the metal. Therefore, all you need to cut through aluminium is a compressor (to provide compressed air), some form of gas, and a plasma cutting machine.
The best mix of gases for cutting aluminium with a plasma cutting machine is argon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
What level of cut quality can I expect when plasma cutting aluminium?
If you are worried that aluminium has too low a melting point to be cut accurately using a plasma cutting machine, then you needn’t be. Although it is true that the melting point of aluminium is lower than other metals, as long as you use the correct gases, you can get a clean cut on both thick and thin aluminium.
Furthermore, due to advancements in plasma cutting technology, you can now enjoy good angle variation that is comparable to mild and stainless steel.
How can you achieve a high-quality cut on aluminium?
To get the most precise cut when using a CNC plasma cutting machine on aluminium, you need to make sure that you use the settings detailed in the owner’s manual that came with your cutter.
You should also ensure that you move your torch in one direction only and make sure that it is a set distance from your workpiece.
Is laser cutting better for cutting aluminium?
Although laser cutting offers a highly fast and effective way to cut steel, it is actually not the best option when it comes to cutting aluminium. This is because you can’t use oxygen to laser cut aluminium. Instead, high-pressure nitrogen is needed, which provides much slower cutting speeds. Plus, you need a large amount of nitrogen to do this, which can prove costly.
When to NOT use a plasma cutter for aluminium
Most of the time, you can cut an aluminium plate or sheet using a plasma cutter. However, there are a few instances when this method of cutting should be avoided, including:
- When cutting anodized aluminium
- When cutting diamond plates or aluminium floor plates
Are you looking for a new plasma cutting machine? Contact us here, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members will help you pick the right machine for your cutting needs.