Jim Donaghy Praxair, Inc. Welding Applications Consultant

Reprinted from Welding Journal December 1995

An increase in the temperature of the reactants increases the speed of the reaction. O’Fallon. Inc. One of the major requirements of a cutting operation is selecting the proper gas or gas mixture for the process being used. As the thickness of the metal to be cut increases. For manual oxyfuel gas cutting.7 mm) up to 4 in. Oxyfuel gas cutting is based on the rapid formation of iron oxide from the introduction of a highpressure pure oxygen stream into the cutting envelope. Materials from 3/16 in. Since iron oxide melts at a lower temperature than mild steel. To help make that selection. Choose the Gas That’s Right for the Cutting Operation Matching the right gas to the cutting process can make the difference between a costly ragged cut and a clean quality cut BY JIM DONAGHY ach cutting process has its own unique characteristics and requirements. at which point the high-pressure oxygen stream is added. while the heat of combustion helps to sustain the reaction by continuously heating the metal at the line of the cut. more heat is required in order to maintain cutting speeds and keep the metal at its ignition temperature. The preheat flame dislodges rust. (102 mm) thick are commonly cut using manual oxyfuel gas cutting. A nitrogen assist gas used with the process assures a clean oxidefree cut.5% combined with intense heat. Material up to 8 ft (2. scale and other contaminants from the surface of the workpiece before they affect the cutting reaction. a specified fuel gas mixed with pure oxygen — Fig. Under these 55 WELDING JOURNAL . Oxyfuel gas flames heat the metal to kindling temperature (1650°F/899°C). the material is removed from the base metal.. Mo. it is recommended that surface contamination be removed prior to the cutting operation. In general practice. These materials can be cut economically. wall thickness is cut with a Nd:YAG laser. Praxair. 1. there is no power requirement and equipment costs are low.A Hastelloy X pipe with a 3/16-in. E Oxyfuel Gas Cutting Oxyfuel gas cutting (OFC) is defined as a group of cutting processes used to sever metals by means of the chemical reaction of oxygen with the base metal at elevated temperatures.4 m) in thickness is successfully cut using machine cutting. (4. blankets the hot metal on either side of the cut and transmits heat into the oxygen stream. and setup is simple and quick. Common oxyfuel cutting applications are limited to carbon and lowalloy steels. The preheat flame also protects the stream of high-pressure cutting oxygen from dilution by air. Iron oxide formation requires large volumes of oxygen with a minimum purity of 99. three major cutting processes and the gases they need for proper operation are detailed below. The necessary temperature is maintained by means of flames obtained from the combustion of JIM DONAGHY is Shielding Gas Engineer. which results in rapid oxidation.

The lower secondary flame Btu capacity may reduce travel speeds when cutting heavy material or stack cutting. • CGA (Compressed Gas Association) valve outlet connection numbers 300 (Comm). which means when the flame is held close to the workpiece it produces a high primary Btu output but has a low heat transfer from the secondary flame. WELDING JOURNAL 56 Table 1 — Volume and Weight of Fuel Gases Used for Cutting Volume of 1 lb of Gas at 70°F ft3 14. Acetylene (C2H2) Acetylene has a high heat release in the primary flame and a low heat release in the secondary flame. Propane and natural gas produce a low Btu output in the primary flame and a high Btu output in the secondary flame. circumstances. • Cylinder pressure is 250 psig at 70°F (21. The fuel gas cost typically represents less than 20% of total cutting costs. Therefore.03 Weight of 100 ft3 of Gas at 70°F Ib 6. and there is less distortion due to the concentrated heat. heat transfer (amount of heat that is transferred from the flame to the work) and heat distribution in the flame (burning zones visible in inner and outer flames). distribution. 51. especially when considering thicker materials.15 11. 50. the cutting speed may be faster than acetylene.65 24. Considerations When Selecting the Fuel Gas The fuel gas heat-transfer properties. Safety in Welding and Cutting. with acetylene. A greater flame Btu capacity may allow faster torch travel speeds giving improved cutting economy. concentrated area. When you compare the total Btu per pound. 400 and 850 ft3 (not available in bulk). MPS and propylene have a balanced Btu output in the primary and secondary flames and offer a good compromise between preheat times and cutting speeds. heavy materials require high heat output in the secondary flame.56 11. Acetylene releases heat rapidly in a small.80 11. a greater degree of skill is required in order to ensure a close coupling distance at all times. propane and propylene.1. larger tips or hotter fuel gases are usually recommended. flame temperatures. safe operating pressures and handling should be evaluated when choosing the most economical fuel gas for your cutting operation. Users should understand what the ratings mean and how to effectively compare fuel gases. Acetylene may not be the most economical for cutting heavy material because of the high fuel cost and the need for large volumes of the fuel to obtain the required total heat. Acetylene is a good choice for cutting thin material because the heat energy concentrates at the torch tip. Before installing or using equipment or cylinders. methylacetylene-propadiene (MPS). the gas may be sold by weight or volume — Table 1. and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards No. 1 — A basic setup for an oxyfuel gas cutting operation. Heat content of acetylene (kJ/m3 or Btu/ft3) is lower than all fuel gases except natural gas. Once the cut is started. 40. Oxygen-Fuel Gas Systems for Welding and Cutting.65 9.Oxygen Regulator Oxygen Hose Torch Torch Head Fuel Gas Regulator Fuel Gas Hose Oxygen Cylinder Acetylene Ucon® 96 or other Fuel Gas Cylinder Cutting Attachment Cutting Nozzle Fig. The triple bond in acetylene makes it the hottest burning gas. the heat transfer for each gas is different.1 8. and No. 510 (POL).7 8. Heat transfer is a function of the Btu content of both the primary and secondary flames produced by combustion of the fuel and oxygen mixture. heat value of the subject fuel gases are all similar. because there is a reduction of base metal chilling. Fuel gases are rated and sold by weight or volume. natural gas. however.1°C) when the cylinder is fully charged.30 4. Some basic facts on acetylene are listed below. heat of combustion (the amount of heat in Btu given off when fuel burns). Guidelines available from AWS usually include flame temperature (the temperature of the primary flame at neutral flame adjustment). There is a short preheat time on thin material (material less than 1/2 in. thick). • Highly flammable. Light sections require relatively less preheat than heavy sections. however. This means that the time required to reach the kindling temperature is longer when compared to acetylene. 300. Flow rates are commonly given in terms of volume. Acetylene has high heat transfer in its primary cone. oxygen-to-fuel consumption ratio (amount of oxygen used compared to the amount of fuel gas). Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases.05 Fuel Gas Acetylene MPS(a) Natural Gas (Methane) Propane Propylene Fuel Gas Acetylene MPS* Natural Gas (Methane) Propane Propylene (a) Methylacetylene-propadiene stabilized. The principal flame cutting fuels are acetylene. become thoroughly familiar with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z49. 100. making this fuel gas very cost effective. 58. Coupling distance (distance between the end of the flame cones and the workpiece) can be a problem. To maintain cutting speeds. Factors such as the time required for preheating steel to its ignition temperature and heat distribution have a greater impact on the total cost of the cutting operation. 520 (B tank acetylene) and 200 (MC acetylene). oxygen consumption. 225. • Available in cylinder capacities of 10. .

30. • Available in cylinder capacities of 7 1/2. • MPS is heavier than air and will displace air in poorly ventilated areas. • Cylinder pressure 109 psig at 70°F. • Considerable tendency to backfire. Propane (C3H8) The flame temperature of propane is lower than acetylene.3 to 14% natural gas by volume in air are easily ignited by a low-energy spark and may cause an explosion.5 times longer than acetylene preheat cones. • MPS cylinders will last five times as long as an acetylene cylinder of equal size. 43 and 100 Ib. • Colorless gas with a distinctive odor (natural odor). Propylene (C3H6) Propylene has a high heat release in its primary and secondary flames. • Can cause rapid asphyxiation in a confined area that does not have adequate ventilation. • Can cause rapid asphyxiation in a confined area that does not have adequate ventilation. Facts on propylene are as follows: • CGA (Compressed Gas Association) valve outlet connection number 510. • Can cause rapid asphyxiation in a confined area that does not have adequate ventilation. One benefit is that cylinders and bulk storage vessels are not required. propane may be a cost-effective fuel gas. • Cylinder pressure is 94 psig at 70°F. • Do not store gas cylinders in confined or unventilated spaces such as cabinets. 2000 gal and larger on-site bulk storage tanks. • Unstable shock sensitivity. • CGA (Compressed Gas Association) valve outlet connection number 510. • Withdrawal rate is about 3 1/2 times greater than acetylene. 63. • Copper piping is not acceptable for acetylene. The mixture burns hotter than propane. The outer flame temperature is similar to propane and propylene.• Gas is dissolved in acetone. The heat release in the primary cone is similar to acetylene. 33. • Do not store gas cylinders in confined or unventilated spaces such as cabinets. • Poor vapor pressures at lower service temperatures will limit the withdrawal capacity in the northern United States and Canada during the winter months. 70. MethylacetylenePropadiene-Stabilized Gas (CH3C:CH) Methylacetylene-propadiene-stabilized (MPS) gas has a high heat release in its primary and secondary flames. • MPS is acceptable for underwater cutting. The cost of natural gas is less than other fuel gases. Preheat time is longer than the other commonly available fuel gases. Training is often required in order to use propylene to its best advantage. • Colorless gas with a distinctive odor. Also available in 500. • Highly flammable. Do not transport cylinders in confined spaces such as closed vans or automobile trunks. Also available in 1000 or 2000 gal on-site bulk storage tanks. The mixture burns hotter than propane or natural gas. closets or tool chests. which increases preheat times. Do not transport cylinders in confined spaces such as closed vans or automobile trunks. Do not transport cylinders in confined spaces such as closed vans or automobile trunks. The primary flame releases low Btu similar to natural gas. Gases of this type commonly use twopiece tips. or tool chests. the cutting speed should be calculated before choosing this as the most economical choice as your fuel gas (reference enclosed cost analysis sheet). The outer flame temperature is superior to acetylene. Where cut quality is not a concern. Training is often required in order to use MPS to its best advantage. 105 and 435 Ib. however. Methylacetylene-propadiene-stabilized preheat flame cones are at least 1. • Highly flammable. The heat distribution in the flame can be an advantage with thick material.4 and 11. • Concentrations of 2. • Requires a properly designed cutting tip. Injector torches are recommended in order to overcome the low delivery pressure. 115 and 500 Ib. • Colorless gas with a distinctive odor. • Concentrations of 5. Methylacetylene-propadienestabilized mixtures combine the qualities of an acetylene flame with a more even heat distribution. • Available in cylinder capacities of 20. • Do not store gas cylinders in confined or unventilated spaces such as cabinets. • Available in cylinder capacities of 27. The facts on natural gas for cutting are as follows: • Highly flammable. 1000. • Requires a properly designed cutting tip. • Withdrawal rate should not exceed 1/10th of cylinder capacity when the cylinder is fully charged (when cylinder contents have been partially depleted or the ambient temperature is below 70°F. although it is recommended for use by telephone companies for work in manholes as it will rise. closets or tool chests. • Slight tendency to backfire. Also available in 1000. •Compressed Gas Association (CGA) valve outlet connection number 510.5% propane by volume in air are easily ignited by a low-energy spark and may cause an explosion. • Withdrawal rate is about 3 1/2 times greater than acetylene.5 times longer than acetylene preheat cones when used with one-piece tips. • Concentrations of 2. • Highly flammable. but increased preheat times usually make this a false economy. • Propylene at any temperature has the highest vapor pressure and withdraw rate of any of the liquefied fuel gases . and have the same length cones as acetylene. • Maximum safe delivery pressure is 15 psig. Below are the facts on this gas. Propylene preheat flame cones are at least 1.2 to 9. Important information on this gas is listed below. • Colorless gas with a distinctive garlic-like odor. Natural Gas (Methane CH4) This product is usually supplied through low-pressure pipelines from a local utility. • Concentrations of 2. • Lighter than air.5 to 81% acetylene by volume in air are easily ignited by a low-energy spark and may cause an explosion. • Slight tendency to backfire. The heat release in the primary flame cone is similar to acetylene. • Propylene is acceptable for underwater cutting. • Colorless gas with a strong distinctive odor. • Cylinder pressure 140 psi at 70°F.7% MPS by volume in air are easily ignited by a low-energy spark and may cause an explosion. • Propylene cylinders will last five times as long as an acetylene cylinder of equal size. Propylene combines the qualities of an acetylene flame with the secondary heating capacity of propane. • Slight tendency to backfire. 57 WELDING JOURNAL . the withdraw rates are reduced). 2000 gal and larger on-site bulk storage tanks. closets. which will help to lessen preheat times. • Propane is heavier than air and will displace air in poorly ventilated areas. Propane is commonly used by scrap yards where cut quality is not critical to cut varying thickness of materials. • Can cause rapid asphyxiation in a confined area that does not have adequate ventilation.

(100 ft of cut) divided by 60 min/h. Electrical discharge between two special alloy electrodes excite the laser gases directly to produce the laser beam. The laser gas flows rapidly through the resonator and make-up gas is required due to dissociation of the carbon dioxide. The hours required to cut 100 ft can be determined by dividing the number 20 by the cutting speed in in.Gas Flows . rent market.982°C). cylinder handling cost. Oxy. WELDING JOURNAL 58 Gases for Laser Beam Cutting of Metal The word laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. such as an electrical charge or light and a resonator (the CO2 Lasers Two types of CO2 lasers are used in industry to cut material. The energy of a focused beam of a 1000-W resonator is 8million W/cm2 (a light bulb is 1 W/cm2). The two main types of lasers utilized for cutting metal are CO2 (a gas mixture of CO2. The crystal is excited by external flash lamps using xenon or krypton.scfh Tip Plate Thk. $ per hour) Fig. Both systems excite the resonator gas. residual losses and converting from cylinder to bulk.5 m). and Nd:YAG. The number 20 is derived from 1200 in. a mixture of carbon dioxide. As the lamps flash. cfh Cut Oxy. This system uses two power supplies to convert electrical energy into high-frequency radio waves to produce the beam.cfh Pre.3% propylene by volume in air are easily ignited by a low-energy spark and may cause an explosion. Fuel Gas Cost Analysis The unit of useful flame cutting cost analysis (Fig. The high-voltage direct-current (DC) excited laser is the most common and represents approximately 70% of the cur- . Moisture will cause discharge instability resulting in decreased gain (power) in the output. This light is then transmitted to the workpiece by either mirrors or a glass fiber-optic cable. ft. Other cost savings should be considered. • Slight tendency to backfire. D Total Cost $ per hour A+B+C E hours per 100 ft. although it is common to use an assist gas such as nitrogen and oxygen to improve cutting speed and quality. Using radio waves to excite the gases prevents the generation of superpulse. The Nd:YAG is a solid-state laser in which the active medium is a small-diameter rod or slab-shaped crystal. nitrogen and helium (also known as laser gas) to create the laser beams. cut = D x E Total Cost = $ per 100 ft. nitrogen and helium is used as its active media). they release this added energy as light particles known as photons.e. • Do not store gas cylinders in confined or unventilated spaces such as cabinets. Its mixture usually consists of 5% carbon dioxide. a method of exciting the media. convert the time required to cut 100 linear ft. i. 35% nitrogen and 60% helium. the light is absorbed by the rods exciting the medium to emit photons. Nd:YAG lasers do not require laser gases. which is manufactured by dissolving neodymium in a matrix of yttrium aluminum garnet. The resonator consists of two parallel mirrors that reflect light particles between them. however. There must be an active media that can be excited. ft./min. C Oxygen cfh x $ per cu. depending on the laser type and laser manufacturer. The make-up gas consumption varies. x $ per hour = 20/ipm x (Labor $ per hour + Fuel $ per hour + Oxy.. Gas Mixtures for CO2 Lasers Carbon dioxide is the gas that is active in generating the laser light. so piercing and part production may be affected. There are essentially three components that are necessary for lasing action (the act of generating a laser beam). = 20/ipm F Total Cost $ per 100 ft. Because unstable electrons seek their lowest energy state. Do not transport cylinders in confined spaces such as closed vans or automobile trunks. cfh Cost .0 to 10. • Concentrations of 2./min. The fast axial flow laser is the most common type for cutting metal. The radio-frequency (RF) excited systems use external antennae (electrodes) to excite the laser gases indirectly through the wall of the glass discharge tube. basic structure of a laser that holds the plasma tubes and internal devices). It is easier to excite the upper laser level of carbon dioxide by using nitrogen and results in higher laser power. • Can cause rapid asphyxiation in a confined area that does not have adequate ventilation. The high-voltage DC lasers are less expensive and have superpulse capabilities for clean and precise piercing. Beam temperatures can reach 45. The two most problematic impurities are moisture and hydrocarbons in the laser gas. 2) is the cost of cutting 100 linear ft (30. thereby amplifying the simulated emission of light. The composition of laser gas mixes varies depending on the laser type and laser manufacturer. 2 — Work sheet for fuel gas cost analysis. What makes this light useful is its ability to focus the beam through a lens to a very small diameter. Multiplying this number by the total cost per hour gives a simple method of determining the cost per 100 ft of cut. it is also necessary to add nitrogen and helium to the laser gas. cut = hours per 100 ft. Helium also helps increase laser power and gives a more stable electric discharge.$ per hour A Labor $ per hour B Fuel cfh x $ per cu. Purity of the laser gases is critical because impurities can adversely affect the performance of the laser.000°F (24. Cutting speed is usually measured in in. To do an economic analysis. Cut Speed ipm Fuel . closets or tool chests.

Argon is also used as an assist gas when cutting titanium because of the incompatibility of this metal with the other assist gases listed. Laser Head Focal Lens Assist Gas Focal Length Nozzle Tip Material Kerf Cut Assist Gas Fig. Cutting speeds are reduced as the purity level drops.995%. valves. The major difference between PAC and plasma arc welding is the velocity of the orifice gas. compressed air can also be used for cutting stainless steel or aluminum where edge quality is not important. The proper assist gas pressure is required in order to reduce dross levels. 3 — Schematic of a laser beam cutting head showing the entryway for an assist gas. and is faster than oxyfuel cutting in the lessthan-two-in. higher pressures are required. This section on plasma arc cutting gases is from Shielding Gases Selection Manual. By far. The use of nitrogen can result in oxide-free edges that can be welded without cleaning the cut surface. or orifice gas. The damaged mirrors require replacement. If the system is not tight. the cutting gas is tangentially injected around the electrode. Assist Gases The majority of industrial lasers use an “assist” gas for cutting. For consistent quality. Both premix high-pressure cylinders and pure gas cylinders are utilized to supply lasing gases. This helps prevent nozzle damage and extends its life. Because the PAC process can be used to cut nonferrous materials. choosing the proper gas-handling equipment is also recommended. dry. The assist gas pressure may be between 10 to 250 psig. The assist gas is fed into the head (Fig. Also. Rubber and plastic hoses can be a problem because moisture can diffuse through these materials. These purity levels listed are not required for all lasers. CO 2 99. and the manufacturer’s specification should be referenced to determine the minimum recommended purity levels. The swirling action of the gas causes the cooler (heavier) portions of the gas to move radially outward. Since moisture is a concern. Laser power decreases because these deposits absorb the laser radiation. clean.Hydrocarbon impurities decompose in the electric discharge and cause carbon deposits on the mirrors. Approximately 40% of the laser cutting equipment comes equipped with mixing units that blend the optimum ratio of carbon dioxide. Plasma Arc Cutting Gases1 The plasma arc cutting (PAC) process severs metal by melting a localized area with a constricted arc and removing the molten material with a high-velocity jet of hot. The higher velocity gas used in PAC removes or blows away the molten material. 3) and exits through the cutting nozzle along with the laser beam. A wide range of pressures are used. Pure gases can be supplied in high-pressure cylinders. there is a chemical reaction of oxygen with the base metal at elevated temperatures that contributes to the cutting process. In some cases. In addition to piping and hoses. Conventional Plasma Arc Cutting In conventional plasma arc cutting. Many laser manufacturers require the following minimum purity levels: helium 99. liquid containers or bulk storage vessels. it is ideal for many industrial applications. Praxair. thickness range for ferrous materials. Because the nitrogen does not aid in the cutting process other than to blow away the molten metal and prevent oxides from forming on the cut edge. the cutting process is generally referred to as “clean cut. forming a protective boundary layer on the inside of the nozzle bore. Premix laser gases supplied in highpressure cylinders are available from most specialty gas suppliers. reducing their reflectivity. Oxygen is always used on mild steel at pressures of approximately 10 to 60 psig. The purity of oxygen will affect cutting speeds. The common assist gases for cutting are oxygen and nitrogen. depending on the material type and thickness. a shielding gas as well as a cutting. Before filling high-pressure cylinders. Generally. Electrode life is also improved since the arc attachment point (cathode spot) is forced 1. nitrogen and helium. The recommended hose to prevent moisture contamination is process stabilized high-density polyethylene. . depending on usage volumes. cylinders utilized for laser gases should not be used for other products. resulting in power loss in the laser system.99%. manifolds and filters should be designed specifically for use with high-purity gases. Assist gases blow away molten metal and oxides from the kerf while offering lens protection. Inc.” Nitrogen is used for high edge quality cutting of stainless. The gas distribution system should be properly designed for optimal laser performance. When the assist gas is oxygen. Clean. a vacuum is pulled. may be used. however. and the replacement of mirrors is expensive. any cylinder that has been exposed to atmosphere (the cylinder valve left open and no positive pressure in the cylinder) may need to be baked to remove moisture. no shielding gas is added. aluminum and alloy steels. the arc is constricted by a nozzle only. All regulators. atmospheric moisture can contaminate the gas supply system.995%. The pure gas must meet the same purity levels. Oxygen can also be used with stainless steel or aluminum when edge quality is not important. dry. nitrogen 99. The shielding gas prevents oxidation of the cut surface. this procedure alone will not remove moisture. the largest use of gas during laser cutting is in 59 WELDING JOURNAL the cutting-assist gas. The PAC process can be used to cut any electrically conductive metal if its thickness and shape permit full penetration by the plasma jet. The piping system connecting a gas supply to a laser system can compromise gas purity. compressed air has recently been found to be acceptable for cutting galvanized material. When the assist gas is nitrogen. ionized gas. Contaminants previously absorbed by the inner surface of the piping system can be reintroduced into the laser gas passing through the system. Specialty gas valves and regulators are recommended.

Use manufacturer’s recommendations for selecting gases. nitrogen is the preferred plasma gas. Dual-Flow Plasma Arc Cutting Dual-flow plasma arc cutting is a slight modification of conventional plasma arc cutting. Notes – Depending upon equipment type. conventional plasma arc cutting was the most popular technique. hence. and the shielding gas is selected according to the metal to be cut. (2) When multiple auxiliary gases are shown for a single orifice gas. boosting cutting speeds about 25%. Cutting speeds are slightly better than “conventional” plasma arc cutting on mild steel. cut quality is not acceptable for many applications. resistance WELDING JOURNAL 60 Air Plasma Arc Cutting Air plasma arc cutting was introduced in the early 1960s for cutting mild steel. The water completely protects the bottom half of the nozzle from the intense radiation. It is still the best method for cutting heavier stainless and aluminum plate. The increased arc constriction provided by the water improves cut squareness and increases cutting speed. however. 4 — A selection guide for gases used in plasma arc cutting. Fig. Two modes of water injection have been developed: radial injection (the water impinges the arc with no swirl component) and swirl injection (the water is introduced as a vortex swirling in the same direction as the cutting gas). Usually the cutting gas is nitrogen. Until the introduction of water injection plasma arc cutting. . Oxygen in the air provides additional energy from the exothermic reaction with molten steel. the cut surface will be heavily oxidized and is often unacceptable for many applications. the following applies: (1) An orifice gas is often used with no auxiliary gas. to move about and distribute its heat load more uniformly. only one auxiliary gas applies for a given application. (3) Cutting speed and quality can vary with gas selection.Thickness Range 1/4" Orifice Key Carbon Steel Stainless Steel & Nickel Alloys Aluminum 1/2" 1" 2" 3" 4" 5" 6" Plasma Blend Auxiliary Orifice Nitrogen* Auxiliary Orifice Oxygen Auxiliary Orifice Carbon Dioxide Auxiliary Orifice H-35 Auxiliary Orifice Argon-Nitrogen Auxiliary * For Water Injection Plasma Cutting. water is introduced inside the nozzle to provide additional arc constriction. It incorporates most of the features of conventional plasma arc cutting. Cutting speed and quality on stainless steel and aluminum are essentially the same as in conventional plasma arc cutting. The water also protects the nozzle since it provides cooling at the point of arc constriction. allowing complete insulation of the nozzle. (4) This table is a composite based on gas requirements for currently available PAC equipment. Water Injection Plasma Arc Cutting In the water injection plasma arc cutting method. Although this process can also be used to cut stainless steel and aluminum. but adds a secondary shielding gas around the nozzle.

Praxair is a registered trademark of Praxair Technology.4–11 cylinder 15 high low low low low low low low low low (a) Methylacetylene-propadiene stabilized. Steel plate being cut is supported on a cutting table with the top surface of the plate two to three in. thick.4–10. Much PAC equipment uses only an orifice gas with no shielding gas. Accurate height control is maintained by a sensor that monitors arc voltage.com The information contained herein is offered for use by technically qualified personnel at their discretion and risk. more tenacious dross formed in argon is the greater surface tension of the molten metal. because of its uniform heat pattern or the injection of water into the torch nozzle (mechanized only). ASM Handbook. B.4–57 2. 39 Old Ridgebury Road Danbury. This results in cuts with nonparallel cut surfaces. helium and nitrogen (except at elevated temperatures) are used with tungsten electrodes. Inc.4–59. D. but dross formation is a problem with the argon blend. Peerless Laser Processors Div.1–51 2. Recently.8–93 2. ASM International.. Conventional plasma arc cutting typically produces noise levels in the range of 105 to 115 dBA. Figure 4 lists the combinations of orifice and shielding gases that WORLD HEADQUARTERS Praxair. The range of gas flow can vary between 1. For base metal over three in. Shielding and Cutting Gases for PAC Inert gases. Dross is a tenacious deposit of resolidified metal attached at the bottom of the cut. Ohio. Dick Green. pp. which are generally wider at the top than at the bottom.. Ill.4 cylinder 12. J. Welding.Table 2 — Safety Facts for Fuel Gases Used in Oxygen Cutting Safety Data Shock Sensitivity Explosive Limits in Oxygen (%) Explosive Limits in Air (%) Max.2–85 15 psig 22. may be used with PAC. T. Rockford. BMS. It is hazardous to cut aluminum underwater. Understanding the Basics of High-Powered Laser Welding.6 Acetylene unstable 2. Sources Consulted Veverka. 20-22. without warranty of any kind. cut quality and high cutting speeds. Shielding Gases Selection Manual. Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International. Inc. A possible explanation for the heavier. specific flow rates are not listed here. The first two have become standard for high-speed mechanized applications.0 and 200 SCFH for shielding gas. Air cutting gives a dross similar to that formed in a nitrogen atmosphere. Materials Park. Lasers. The plasma jet tends to remove more metal from the upper part of the workpiece than from the lower part. and 3) argonhydrogen and nitrogen-hydrogen mixtures.2 5. The use of argon-hydrogen. Hydrogen generated by the process can be trapped under the plate. The surface tension of liquid steel is 30% higher in an argon atmosphere than in nitrogen. CT 06810-5113 Tel: 1-800-PRAXAIR (1-800-772-9247) (716) 879-4077 Fax: 1-800-772-9985 (716) 879-2040 Internet: www. PAC units shielded by compressed air have been developed to cut thin-gauge materials. creating the potential for an explosion. 2) nitrogen-oxygen or air. Amada Canada Ltd.4 Propane stable 2.0 and 100 standard ft3/h (SCFH) for orifice gas and 8. Underwater cutting also virtually eliminates ultraviolet radiation and fumes associated with conventional plasma arc cutting. Air may be used for the cutting gas when special electrodes. can produce cuts that are square on one side and beveled on the other side. Cutting speed and quality are comparable to those attained with plasma arc cutting by water injection. Laser Cutting. Virtually all plasma cutting of mild steel is done with one of three gas types: 1) nitrogen with carbon dioxide shielding or water injection (mechanized).2 Propylene stable 2. argon-hydrogen is frequently used without water injection. Don McDonald. This approach allows enough freedom in torch design to ensure component durability. Mo. Praxair Canada.5–60 3.8 cylinder 15. Garth Stapon.com e-mail: info@praxair. as determined by cutting requirements. Allowable Pressure Burning Velocity in Oxygen ft/s Backfire Tendency Toxicity Natural Gas stable 5. such as argon. Inc. P.0–15 line 13. Underwater Plasma Arc Cutting Underwater plasma arc cutting is ideally suited to numerically controlled shape cutting and produces a comfortable noise level of 85 dBA or less under normal operating conditions. to damage is greatly improved. Gas flow in most PAC equipment is controlled by a gas pressure regulator and a flowmeter. P-8106 3M 4/98 . Brazing and Soldering.praxair. G. underwater. Simpson. A device that locates the submerged top surface of the metal is vital to the fully automated underwater plasma arc cutting process. and Culkin. Inc. Praxair.7 MPS(a) stable 1. Because PAC equipment design can vary significantly between models.1–9. Inc. Gas Flow Rate The orifice gas will often have a lower flow rate than the shielding gas. Inc. and Lumonics Materials Processing Corp. made from water-cooled copper with inserts of metals like hafnium.. but both will vary as changes in cutting current are made to accommodate different base metals and thicknesses. 6. Argon-hydrogen and nitrogen-hydrogen (20 to 35% hydrogen) are occasionally used for manual cutting. © 1996. Vol. are used. O’Fallon. Praxair Technology.

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