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Steel Cutting Blog

 

If you’re passionate about metal cutting or just keen to learn more, you’ve landed in the right place. 

 

For over 38 years, Amber Steel has been at the forefront of metal cutting services, specializing in laser cutting, flame cutting, and plasma cutting. Our expertise has carved a niche in this cutting-edge industry, delivering precision and excellence across industrial projects big and small. 

 

In our blog, we’ll share a mix of useful tips, innovative applications, our thoughts on sustainability in steel cutting, and more. Expect stories from the cutting floor, insights into how our processes can streamline projects across industries, and a few lessons we’ve learned along the way. 

 

While we keep some of our trade secrets under wraps, this blog is designed to offer valuable nuggets of wisdom that you simply won't find anywhere else. Whether you’re a professional in the industry or someone fascinated by the possibilities of metal cutting, you'll find something of value here. 

 

So, stick with us as we delve into the finer points of metal work. We’re glad to share our insights and lead discussions that matter to our industry. 

 

VIEW RECENT BLOGS

 

New to Steel Cutting? Start with the Basics 

 

Explore our Steel Cutting Blog by Topic 

 

Aerospace 

How precision metal cutting propels the aerospace industry, from constructing lighter frames to enhancing aerodynamics. 

 

Automotive 

The role of advanced metal cutting in automotive manufacturing, driving innovations in vehicle design and efficiency. 

 

Flame Cutting 

All about the robust and versatile process of flame cutting, ideal for tackling thicker metals with precision and ease. 

 

Furniture 

Discover the art of crafting metal furniture, where cutting techniques meet design to create both functional and aesthetic pieces. 

 

How It Works 

A behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of metal cutting technologies and the science that makes them tick. 

 

Laser Cutting 

Laser cutting is where extreme precision meets efficiency, allowing for intricate designs and clean finishes. 

 

Medical Devices 

The critical role of precise steel cutting in developing reliable and intricate medical devices. 

 

Oil and Gas 

How steel cutting supports the oil and gas industry with components that withstand extreme environments and pressures. 

 

Plasma Cutting 

Known for its speed and versatility, plasma cutting slices through conductive metals with hot plasma. 

 

Safety 

Safety first! Tips and insights on maintaining a safe environment while handling powerful metal cutting equipment. 

 

Structural Steel Fabrication 

The backbone of construction, where steel fabrication and cutting technologies create frameworks that shape skylines. 

 

Sustainability 

A look at sustainability in metal cutting, focusing on practices that reduce waste and conserve energy to protect our planet. 

 

Plasma Cutting Consumables: Efficiency and Cost Savings

Plasma cutting consumables.

 

Plasma cutting is known for its versatility, but is it also affordable?

 

Plasma cutting is a leading-edge technology that utilizes high cutting speed and minimal post-processing by using electrically conductive materials with an accelerated jet of hot plasma. It also uses consumables, such as electrodes and nozzles, which aid in the process's affordability. 

 

Plasma cutting was developed near the end of the 1950s and was designed for cutting high-alloy steel and aluminum. It was designed to be used on nearly all metals (due to their chemical composition) that couldn’t be subjected to oxyfuel cutting. Owing to its very high cutting speeds and narrow heat-impacted zone, plasma cutting is used today for cutting even non-alloy and low-alloy steel. 

 

As the experts at Amber Steel, a leader in the metal cutting space, we’ll be breaking down the efficiency and cost savings provided by a plasma cutting method. Let’s explore.

 

Before we get into the concept of cost-savings, let's explore what plasma cutters are as well as their consumable parts:

 

 

What is a Plasma Cutter?

Plasma cutters are essential to the metal fabrication industry. By using plasma cutter consumables, a machine can rapidly cut through hundreds of parts an hour with a high degree of efficiency and precision, making it a great cost-saving choice.

 

Fewer mistakes result in less wasted labour and material. Over time, plasma cutting consumables do wear down due to the excessive heat involved during the actual cutting process but they are generally affordable to replace.

 

Even though they're an essential part of the fabricating process, plasma consumables are typically overlooked. These consumables are necessary for the safe and rigid operation of your cutting torch. Plasma-cutting consumables are removable pieces that need regular maintenance and replacement.

 

 

How Plasma Cutting is Cost-Effective

At the end of the day, the best value you get from plasma cutting depends completely on what is most valuable to YOU.

 

In general, plasma cutting is a great option because it has many benefits that make it cost-effective. We’ll be exploring the affordability of plasma cutting from process to parts, including the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of consumable parts.

 

 

The Cost Effectiveness of Plasma Cutting Consumables

Lucky for you, even some of the best quality plasma cutting consumables are generally very affordable. It’s important that even when you’re looking to save costs, you’re still choosing quality pieces to ensure your work is precise and controlled.

 

Otherwise, here are some of the key ways plasma cutting consumables are cost-effective overall:

 

They Have a Good Shelf Life

Plasma cutting consumables, such as nozzles, electrodes, and shields, are all designed to withstand high levels of corrosion, which extends their shelf life. This reduces the need to constantly replace the parts and the overall maintenance cost over time.

 

They’re Highly Efficient

Plasma cutting is already an efficient process due to its precision and speed. Plasma cutters allow for rapid and accurate cuts with minimal need to waste materials. This efficiency translates into a lower operational cost, as well as minimizing wasted material. Cuts are also completed more quickly compared to other methods.

 

Cut Quality is High

High-quality consumables produce clean and accurate cuts, which reduces the need for secondary finishing processes post-cut. This doesn’t just save you time, it also reduces the costs associated with additional labour and equipment usage.

 

Lowering the Need for Machine Downtime

Good quality and reliable consumables minimize machine downtime caused by regular replacements and machine maintenance, which improves your overall productivity and efficiency in the long run.

 

Reducing Overall Energy Consumption

Plasma cutters with quality consumables operate more efficiently, resulting in a reduction in energy costs than other more costly cutting methods. This means you’ll have lower energy bills and operational costs. That’s a win-win.

 

Plasma Cutting has a Lower Cost Per Cut

When it comes to considering the cost per cut, plasma cutting with quality consumables can be very economical in comparison to other methods, especially if you’re operating in a high-volume production work environment.


Moving away just from consumables, there are multiple other reasons why plasma cutting is a cost-effective and efficient means of metal cutting. If you’re looking to break into the industry, there are some money-saving considerations you need to bear in mind.

 

 

How Plasma Cutting Can Save You Money in the Long Run

 

Overall Purchasing Cost

An important factor to consider when it comes to making the shift to plasma cutting is the initial upfront investment. CNC plasma cutters generally come at a lower price, followed closely by waterjet cutters, and then finally laser cutters which (despite being an excellent option) are the most expensive.

 

Cost to Operate the Machinery

If you add up the cost of operation such as gas, consumables, power, routine maintenance, plasma cutting operation comes in at a lower cost than other CNC machines. Saving on operating costs is one of the key ways to maximize your output while keeping yourself on budget.

 

Ease of Use

CNC plasma cutters are well-known for being relatively user-friendly. However, they still require training to ensure that the machine operates not just properly, but efficiently. This saves time and money.

 

Rate of Production

A good business practice requires you to calculate the rate of production because your total cost per consumable is going to be determined by the labour cost to run the machine, divided by the number of parts you produce every hour.

 

Plasma cutting steel beats out the rest in terms of cutting speed because they’re able to cut materials anywhere between 60-500 IPM (inches per minute), increasing your overall rate of production.

 

The quicker you supply the product, the greater efficiency, and the greater the profit. Laser cutting is renowned for being precise, but it is slower by comparison, while waterjet machines tend to be the slowest out of the three options. Taking this into consideration can help you determine your cost-savings and profitability.

 

Plasma cutting machine, cutting metal.

 

Plasma Cutting is Efficient in Various Material Ranges and Thicknesses

Plasma cutters utilize nitrogen, which means they’re able to cut various materials precisely at varying thicknesses. Plasma cutters produce a high temperature, localized “cone” for cutting through materials. This process is ideal for cutting sheet metal into various angled or even curved shapes. Plasma cutters are also able to cut through metals that have reflective surfaces.

 

Typical materials cut with a plasma cutter range from steel, stainless steel, brass, copper, and aluminum. You’ll often see plasma cutters utilized in fabrication shops, automotive repair and restoration, industrial construction, and scrapping/salvaging operations, making it an extremely versatile machine.

 

Plasma Cutting Minimizes the Potential for Warping Materials

While it’s true that plasma cutters utilize high temperatures, the systems can keep the surface of the metal cool, eliminating the possibility of material warping. This means you can have clean, high-quality cuts without the risk of ruining the material. Plasma cutters also only use a localized heat zone (the alternative to this is a wide heat-affected zone, or HAZ), that has the potential to burn or melt the material.

 

Plasma Cutting is Safe

Plasma cutting utilizes a less flammable gas, eliminating many of the safety hazards associated with gas cutting. Plasma cutting subsequently doesn’t just cut down on labour costs, but it’s safe to operate with the proper training and improves the quality of your product. All without having to skimp on safety.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Metal fabrication comes with many applications and tools to maximize your cost-effectiveness and efficiency, but plasma-cutting consumables and cutters are a great option for those looking to break into the industry.

 

Whether you’re looking to buy a machine and consumable parts or are looking to have a fabricator take on your next plasma-cutting project, hopefully, this guide has provided you with the insight you need to make an informed decision.

 

For more information on plasma cutting and other forms of metal cutting, see our comprehensive blog on Amber Steel’s website.

 

 

 

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