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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 Tips for Achieving Clean Edges in Steel

Plasma cutting machine.

 

Plasma cutting is a game-changer in industries like automotive manufacturing, metal fabrication, and construction, where precision is everything. Whether you're creating parts for the next big car model or putting together pieces for a new building, getting those clean cuts and avoiding warping is key. 

 

But here's the thing: when you decide to go for plasma cutting, you're putting your money on the line. You want to make sure you're getting top-notch work. No one wants to see their materials go to waste because the edges aren't clean enough or the metal is twisted out of shape.  

 

That's where we come in. We're all about providing plasma cutting services that hit the mark every time — clean edges, no distortion, just the way you need it. 

 

Now, the nuts-and-bolts cutting of the matter is out of your hands. You’re hiring someone else to do it for you, meaning the techniques and technologies don’t apply directly to you.  

 

In other words, you need someone you trust to complete the job correctly. You also require the criteria for finding such a service provider. 

 

So today, we want to discuss how you can ensure the plasma-cutting service provider you partner with achieves clean cuts and minimal distortion in steel. 

 

We can tell you with the utmost confidence how Amber Steel works with clients like you (e.g., in automotive manufacturing, metal fabrication, and construction) to deliver the results you seek. Our plasma-cutting services cater to your project’s needs, applying our solutions to your specifications. 

 

The team at Amber is highly skilled and expertly trained to deliver precise cuts with minimal distortion and clean edges.  

 

Contact us today to learn more about our plasma-cutting services and how we can optimize your project. Or, read below as we discuss how you can ensure you hire a plasma-cutting service provider who can deliver the precise final product you demand (and deserve).  

 


 

 

Choosing the Right Plasma Cutting Tools 

No tool in the world can make up for a lack of skill. The plasma-cutting service provider most suited to your project should have undeniable technical expertise that you can count on.  

 

However, there’s no denying that the tools play a part as well. Those with the higher tier of equipment will be able to execute superior cuts. 

 

Here’s a list of topics to discuss with a plasma-cutting service provider to ensure they’re working with machinery and technology that can give you the results your project demands: 

 

  • Discuss output power with your potential service provider. The optimal amount depends on the type and thickness of the material being cut. A plasma-cutting service professional you can trust will have machines able to handle the maximum thickness levels involved in your project. 
    • Broach the topic of rated and severe cuts — these are what experts use. Rated cuts involve mild metals’ thicknesses. These can be cut at 15 inches per minute (IPM). Severe cuts are the highest thickness levels a plasma cutter can successfully manage. 
  • Time is money. Yes — clean edges and minimal distortion are paramount, but the labour cost increases the longer a job takes. Thus, cutting speed is a crucial component of your project and a topic you should discuss with all potential plasma-cutting service providers. Inches per minute (IPM) are vital for production time since the project gets done quicker with higher rates.  
  • Ask potential plasma-cutting service providers about their duty cycle, which measures how long a plasma cutter can continuously cut over ten minutes before overheating. Hot environments, high productivity applications, and long cuts all demand a higher duty cycle.  
    • Higher duty cycles ensure machines can operate efficiently for longer times without requiring cooling breaks, optimizing efficiency. This will reduce the time your project takes. 
  • Determine a potential plasma-cutting service provider’s relationship with technology. Today’s plasma cutters are designed for the utmost precision. While your budget might have constraints, seeking service providers using the most cutting-edge tools will yield the most precise cuts that reduce distortion and achieve clean edges. Moreover, the best technology can often streamline costs, fitting into tighter budgets. 

 

 

Using the Correct Technique 

As you’re not a plasma-cutting technician, it can be hard to know whether an industry pro is following best practices. 

 

Still, you can discuss the techniques below with potential service providers to ensure their cuts are precise, minimize distortion, and have clean edges. Their methods might differ from what’s laid out below, but they’ll offer insights into their process, further building trust: 

 

  • A technician should use their non-cutting hand to support their other hand to ensure steadiness while ensuring free movement and maintaining a constant 1/16th to 1/8th inch standoff space. You’ll find that most technicians don’t push the torch away but pull it toward their body. 
  • The service provider performing the plasma cutting will preferably hold a consistent standoff distance. Doing so will increase a smaller machine’s cutting capacity while extending the consumables’ lifespan. 
  • Does your service provider/technician have a machine with a drag shield? If so, they should use it. A drag shield allows technicians to keep the optimal standoff with the torch on the workpiece while not touching the metal tip. The cut quality and consumable life will be hampered if the metal is touched. 
  • The technician you hire should place the torch as close to the base metal edge as possible. They should then press the trigger to activate the pre-flow air, initiating the pilot and cutting arcs. Best practices then dictate the technician to slowly move the torch across the metal. From there, they’ll ensure cutting sparks are generated from the bottom by adjusting speed. 
  • Plasma-cutting technicians should either pause briefly to finish the cut or angle the torch slightly toward the end of the cut. Doing so will garner a smooth, clean edge. 
  • In the immediate aftermath of the technician releasing the trigger, post-flow air will continue as the consumable parts and torch begin the cool-down process. 
  • Ensure the technician you hire has steady hand movements. This way, they’ll make controlled and precise cuts. 
  • A trusted technician will base their travel pace on amperage settings, desired results, and material thickness. They won’t rush a job because it would risk poor-quality cuts. However, they won’t go too slow because they won’t want to create dross buildup. 
  • Your plasma-cutting service provider should check consumables for wear or damage, including worn-out electrodes/nozzles, spatter accumulation, or consumed hafnium inserts (when applicable). 

 

 

The Importance of Consumables 

Swirling rings, nozzles, retaining caps, shield caps, and electrodes are all plasma-cutting torch consumables. 

 

Discuss with prospective plasma-cutting service providers whether they regularly inspect these consumables, as it’s a vital element of making quality cuts. 

 

Industry experts will prioritize the condition of their consumables, replacing their tip holes if they’re covered in spatter or irregular in any way. They’ll also discard the electrode if it develops a pit.  

 

Excessive moisture, high thickness levels, and lackadaisical technique can all adversely impact consumables, lessening cut quality.  

 

 

Balancing Speed and Quality 

A plasma-cutting service provider understands the delicate balance of speed and quality. 

 

With thicker materials, they’ll rigorously monitor their travel pace with clean, precise cuts in mind. They’ll also adjust the amperage to lower for thinner material and higher for thicker material.  

 

Plasma-cutting experts will find the correct speed and ensure a 15–20-degree plasma arc exit angle opposite the travel direction.  

 

When moving too slowly, it will go straight down. If the technician moves too fast, it will spray back.  

 

Heat and speed must also be balanced by your plasma-cutting service provider during the cutting process.  

 

Doing so will prevent metal surface distortion and reduce rubbish on the bottom of the cut. When the heat-speed combination is optimized, distortion won’t be a factor. Also, there will be a minimal need for post-cut rework or grinding. 

 

The best in the business will prioritize control as they determine how much speed should be applied. 

 

Working with Industry-Best Service Providers 

Plasma cutting steel with clean edges and minimal distortion is a complex notion for many prospective clients — like you — for one reason: Much of the process is out of your hands. 

 

You aren’t cutting the steel yourself because it doesn’t fall within your area of expertise. You’re relying on someone else to get the job done right. Thus, you can only do so much to impact the cut quality. 

 

The information in this article has provided you with a set of criteria to watch for—this will be crucial in deciphering whether the company you’ve hired is up to the challenge. 

 

We’ll never doubt the value of learning about your investments. Knowing what yields clean, precise plasma cuts will give you a leg up. Nonetheless, the fact remains: You can’t complete those clean cuts yourself. 

 

When you partner with a service provider like Amber Steel, you’ll have someone handling your plasma-cutting needs with an industry-leading track record for optimal results and satisfied clients.  

 

We work within the framework of your project, aligning our solutions to your needs, budget, and project scope.  

 

Our plasma-cutting equipment and technology are cutting-edge, highly scalable, portable, and cost-efficient, and we utilize automation to streamline our processes. 

 

Amber Steel’s passion for steel-cutting is unparalleled, and our commitment to our clients can’t be rivalled. Contact us today to discuss a plasma-cutting project or to investigate our other top-tier services. 

 

 

 

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