If you are a metal worker, you are probably already aware of the process of oxy fuel cutting, but maybe you are not entirely sure how it works. Used in both heavy and light industrial operations, the oxy fuel cutting process has been a popular choice for cutting steel for decades and still remains very much in use today despite new developments within the industry.
So, what exactly is oxy fuel cutting, and how does it work?
Keep reading to find out.
In 1903, two French engineers developed the process of oxygen-acetylene welding. When using pure oxygen instead of air, one can boost the temperature of a flame significantly, and when paired with acetylene propane, the flame can burn at around 3,500 Celsius or 6,332 Fahrenheit. Through localised melting, with the use of a torch, the material can be welded or cut at room temperature.
Oxygen-fuel processes can be carried out using a variety of different fuel gases, including propylene, liquified petroleum gas and hydrogen. In oxy-fuel systems, oxygen is not the fuel itself but what chemically combines with the fuel to produce heat. This process is known as oxidation.
Considered to be the most effective method for cutting steel, during the oxy fuel cutting process, you must preheat mild steel with a cutting torch prior to cutting it. The steel needs to reach an ignition temperature of around 960 °C, or 1760 °F, before it is ready to be cut.
Once the steel has reached the appropriate temperature, the heated part receives oxygen via a nozzle. There is then a reaction between the oxygen and the iron (to form iron oxide), which transforms the heated metal into liquid steel.
The waste matter’s melting point is not as high as the melting point that is occurring in the steel, so the oxygen stream is able to eliminate the waste matter without disrupting the stainless steel. While this is going on, a process called the exothermic reaction cuts the steel whilst the cutting torch does its job also.
As the steel is constantly hot during the oxy fuel cutting process, this method of welding and cutting is not suitable for most metals; however, it is ideal for cutting low carbon steel.
Oxy fuel cutting machines are what you need if you want to cut through a thick wall (up to 24 inches thick). That is roughly 1,200% thicker than what plasma cutters can accommodate. Although the cut quality is not as clean as with plasma cutting and the cutting speed is slower, oxy fuel cutting is highly cost-effective and provides a portable way to cut steel as no electricity is required. All you need is a few gas tanks and a torch, and you can cut anywhere!
Need help choosing the right oxy fuel cutting machine for your business? From small single-head machines right up to large multi-head ones, when it comes to oxy fuel cutting, we have got you covered.
Contact us here for more information.