A Quick Guide to Metal Cutting Techniques

by Aug 2, 2020blog, Information, Metal Supply, Tips0 comments

Metal cutting has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s come a long way in the modern age. Historical metal cutting techniques included hand-operated tools like shears and chisels. Today, metal cutting has been adapted and improved for more precision and control. We have countless ways to cut metal, all with their own perks and drawbacks. Here are a few of the most common modern techniques for cutting metal.


Laser cutting uses a highly concentrated beam of light at an extremely high temperature to cut metals with precision and efficiency. When used with computer programs, the laser can be controlled with a high level of accuracy, giving a neat finish and enabling detailed designs to be followed. Laser cutting can be used with most metals, but it’s most economical when used to cut thinner metals.


Flame cutting is similar to laser cutting in many ways. A hot, pressurized flame (reaching approximately 3,500 degrees celsius) can be used to cut metal by melting through it. Just like laser cutting, flame cutting can be controlled with a computer for better precision and accuracy.


Another method that uses heat is plasma cutting. It involves a plasma torch pushing oxygen at a high speed, while sending electricity through the gas at the same time. This process creates a hot plasma stream that can melt metal and blow it away from the seam, resulting in a clean cut. Corrosion is a risk with this kind of cutting because it gets hotter than other methods, which is why a secondary gas is often used.The kind of gas you need depends on the type of metal you’ll be cutting. This method isn’t as precise as laser cutting, but it’s more economical than laser cutting for thicker metals. 


Water jet cutting is a way of cutting metal without using high temperatures. Water jets work by shooting a stream of highly pressurized water at the metal in order to cut it, effectively pushing away the unnecessary metal. This leaves a clean, precise cut without rough edges. Water jet cutting is best for metals too thick to be cut with lasers or plasma, or for heat-sensitive metals that might warp or melt with high-temperature methods.


Laser cutting is recommended for metals that require more intricate and precise details with high precision and efficiency. In practice, this would mean that laser cutting is most economical for metal thicknesses up to 10 mm. Plasma cutting is most economical for metals too thick to be cut with a laser, and it’s most often used for larger and thicker sheets. Water cutting is recommended for metals up to 460 mm thick, as well as heat-sensitive metals.


If you’re looking for custom metal design, plasma-cut metal, or full-length metal, visit the Short Iron Store. We use the best of modern technology to cut metals down to your specifications. We also have metal for nearly any project, as well as handmade metal wall art crafted by our own metalworkers. Check our online store or request a free quote on our website!