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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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Plasma Cutting for Large-Scale Steel Fabrication

Plasma cutting machine cutting metal.

 

There's something truly captivating about large-scale steel fabrication.  

 

Whether it’s the sight of flames flying during the cutting or welding process or the spawning of awe-inspiring structures that shape entire civilizations, the sheer magnitude of large-scale steel fabrication in construction is unparalleled.  

 

Steel inspires us because of its strength, robustness, and seeming invincibility, especially when utilized at a large scale. It’s also our bread and butter as a business. 

 

We’re not talking about steel in a shelving cabinet unit. No, this is a discussion about steel at its most jaw-dropping enormity: heavy metal for heavy machinery, shipbuilding, bridges, and construction. 

 

In other words, big steel is a big deal. Large-scale steel fabrication is versatile and produces materials up to the task of making the world go round. 

 

At Amber Steel, we embrace and appreciate the value of large-scale steel fabrication, utilizing techniques such as plasma cutting for precise and powerful cuts. We integrate our skill, precision, and expertise for steel fabrication with cutting-edge technologies that streamline our processes and optimize results. 

 

From planning to executing a large-scale steel fabrication project, we apply our technical proficiency and vast industry knowledge to deliver results that exceed client expectations. 

 

Do you have a large-scale steel fabrication project in the works? Are you seeking a top industry technician with top-tier machinery and innovative technology who can cut, bend, and assemble on a grand scale while delivering optimal results? If so, contact Amber Steel today to discuss what our steel fabrication and cutting processes can do for your business. 

 

While we offer various techniques for steel fabrication and always have an alternative to meet your needs, we typically utilize plasma cutting for fabricating steel at a large scale.  

 

Below, we’ll delve further into large-scale steel fabrication and the role of plasma cutting in the process. 

 

 

A Deeper Dive into Large-Scale Steel Fabrication 

The heavy (or large-scale) steel fabrication process applies to industrial structure/component construction from raw materials.

 

We already mentioned the structures built with fabricated steel: bridges, heavy machinery, and sky-scraping structures. These human-made works make people feel small and their mouths agape. 

 

Projections show the steel fabrication industry growing from $22.36 billion in 2023 to $30.64 billion by 2030.  

 

The above statistic isn’t a brag or boast. It’s to highlight the ubiquity and necessity of large-scale steel fabrication. Steel is everywhere—it provides stability and is the foundation for almost all industries and ways of life. 

 

Consider the financial implications of projects that utilize large-scale steel fabrication. The average modern cruise ship, for example, can cost a mind-boggling $900 million, while a high-rise office can cost up to $1,000 per square foot. These figures emphasize the need for quality tools and experts to ensure the success and profitability of such ventures. 

 

Furthermore, heavy steel fabrication is a staple of automotive and aerospace, both high-worth industries involving projects with immense financial stakes. 

 

The materials used in large-scale steel fabrication reflect that massive scale, as do the final products and associated prices. 

 

Thus, project leaders need to invest in the best tools available and ensure the top experts in the field use them. This way, the ends will justify the means, and all upfront spending will pay off. 

 

It’s then worth asking: What are the best types of tools or machinery for large-scale steel fabrication? Several will be required, but our plasma cutter is Amber Steel's most integral tool for these projects. 

 

 

Why Choose Plasma Cutting for Large-Scale Steel Fabrication? 

Cutting is one of the first components of steel fabrication, occurring before forming, drilling/punching, welding, and blasting/painting. 

 

Steel must first be cut to form its desired shape. 

 

Many cutting processes exist, and Amber offers several of them, including laser cutting and flame cutting

 

However, plasma cutting proves itself time and again the far superior choice for large-scale steel fabrication projects. 

 

Specifically, plasma is the cutting method that is most efficient at handling thicker materials.  

 

The electrically charged air in plasma cutting makes it ideal for processing nonferrous and ferrous materials. Alternatively, flame cutting can only cut ferrous materials. 

 

Furthermore, plasma cutting works faster than oxyfuel with its cutting speed. Plus, its kerf is more precise and smaller than flame cutting. 

 

Plasma cutting flourishes when processing high-thickness plates (e.g., approximately 2 inches or 50 mm thick). It can even succeed in handling 150 mm (6 inches) thick materials. Thus, it’s ideal for heavy, large-scale steel fabrication. 

 

At the end of the day, our reasoning is simple: We opt for plasma cutting for large-scale steel fabrication because it’s most suited to the type of work required, offering optimal cuts in these scenarios. 

 

 

How Amber Approaches Plasma Cutting for Large-Scale Steel Fabrication Projects 

We’ll note that—within reason—Amber is precisely what our clients need us to be. Thus, our services will shape and mould whatever your project and desired outcomes demand. 

 

Still, we can give you a general idea of what to expect when you hire us for a large-scale steel fabrication project. 

 

Read on as we break down some typical elements of the large-scale steel fabrication process with Amber. 

 

Tool blueprints with caliper, pencils, and sharpener on paper.

 

The Project Planning Stage 

Rigorous planning is the cornerstone of any successful large-scale steel fabrication project. 

 

At Amber, we excel and relish the planning stage because it allows us to familiarize ourselves with customers and their project specs. We combine our philosophies with our client's needs and help create budgets, schedules, and a final product blueprint. 

 

Our detailed planning process ensures we finish projects on budget and on time.  

 

To the above point, punctuality is one of our core tenets at Amber Steel.  

 

Our passion and dedication to delivering on time reflect our desire and commitment to helping you succeed. We will work tirelessly during the planning stage to ensure we meet deadlines which are non-negotiable for us. 

 

Still, even the best-laid plans can fall victim to unforeseen circumstances.  

 

As such, we build our plans with flexibility and adaptability in mind. We prepare in advance with the idea that your needs will evolve. We have processes in place to ensure we adjust seamlessly, continuing to shape our solutions to your objectives. 

 

We consider all large-scale steel fabrication processes as we plan your project. Say you’re building a bridge, for instance. We’ll consider the types of vehicles going over the bridge, factoring their weight into the materials we select for the project. 

 

Aligning Our Services with Your Requirements 

The most precise, beautifully cut piece of steel means very little if the client doesn’t want it. 

 

Thus, Amber prioritizes familiarizing ourselves with your large-scale steel fabrication requirements before we plasma-cut a single material.  

 

Here are some of the requirements we refer to: 

 

  • The structure’s purposes. 

  • It’s load-bearing capacity. 

  • Environmental conditions 

 

When we understand your needs, we can deliver the structures and final product that meets and exceeds expectations. 

 

Our team of top-tier professionals might be proficient at plasma cutting. However, they’re equally skillful as communicators and utilize these skills with our clients. 

 

We’ll share our developed designs with you for approval. This way, you can give us feedback, which we’ll enthusiastically receive during each stage of your large-scale steel fabrication project. 

 

Taking An Honest Look at Ourselves in the Mirror 

Large-scale steel fabrication is an intensive process saved for projects that often feature high difficulty.  

 

Often, companies in our sector will perform a SWOT analysis to assess whether they can give prospective clients what they need for their projects. Specifically, these are the questions asked: 

 

  • Do we have the resources available to finish the project? 

  • Does our expertise and experience align with what’s needed to fabricate the structure in question? 

  • Where are our core competencies? 

  • How do our current finances line up with the needs of a fabrication project? 

 

There’s rarely a project we won’t take on. Nevertheless, transparency with clients is vital to us at Amber. We want to be honest through all project facets, which means asking ourselves if we’re up to the challenge and giving clients a straightforward answer. 

 

Suppose we find a gap or a weakness that may prevent us from working on a large-scale project. We'll investigate solutions and ways to bridge the gap, typically leading to top-tier work and happy clients. 

 

 

At Amber, Steel Is Our Bread and Butter 

Do you have a large-scale steel fabrication project in your sights? 

 

Given the financial investment it requires, such work has a slim margin for error. You owe it to yourself and your fellow colleagues, partners, or investors to only work with the industry's best fabricators. 

 

Speaking of the industry’s best large-scale steel fabricators, Amber Steel provides plasma-cutting services for heavy-duty projects that demand a sure hand.  

 

We work with other materials, but steel is our bread and butter. Our work is highly efficient, rigorously planned, exactly precise, and guided by cutting-edge technology to ensure optimal results.  

 

Amber Steel has spent years differentiating itself with top-quality products and competitive pricing. 

 

Contact Amber today to learn about the game-changing difference our plasma-cutting services can make for your large-scale steel fabrication project. 

 

 

 

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