Oxyfuel cutting – the basics and benefits explained

Need to cut thick, ferrous metal surfaces effectively? Find out how oxyfuel cutting works.

When it comes to metal cutting processes used by industries, oxyfuel cutting stands out. It is regarded as one of the most effective, efficient, and reliable techniques for cutting metals.

Oxyfuel cutting is mostly used for cutting materials that contain iron, meaning it’s mostly applied to steel – both mild as well as a low alloy. 

What are the basics of the process?

This thermal process is used for cutting thick metals up to 250mm. The process involves heating a metal surface that contains iron, along with other components, with a mix of fuel gas and oxygen. This treatment heats the surface, but the preheating process has to be stopped when the temperature of the surface reaches the ignition point. 

The preheated surface is then treated with a spurt of pure oxygen that leads to an exothermic reaction. As a result of this process, iron oxide in a form of slag is formed. The jet of oxygen continues with the process and starts removing the slag. This leads to the cutting of the metal as the jet pierces through the heated and melted oxide. 

What are some technical requirements for the process?

There are some small technicalities that go a long way in ruining the entire process, if not taken care of beforehand. Firstly, you have to make sure that the melting point of the material that is being cut, is higher than the ignition temperature, so that the material does not get melted before cutting. If it melts then it would become impossible to cut the surface. 

The oxide that is formed on the metal surface as a result of heating with gaseous mixtures must always be lower than the melting point of the entire material. This is important because the lower melting point of the oxide slag will ensure that it gets blown away upon getting treated with an oxygen jet. This will ensure a thorough cutting of the material. 

The third requirement for efficient oxyfuel cutting is that the exothermic reaction should provide enough heat to uphold the ignition temperature. This is required to keep the cutting process going. Lastly, the process should produce enough gaseous products as a result of the entire reactions. 

What are the benefits of oxyfuel cutting?

This process is widely applied for the treating and cutting of thick metals as it provides greater piercing efficiency. Where oxyfuel cutting is used for cutting, welding, and brazing, it is also greatly applied for adjoining two metals to form permanent connections; the process is called soldering

The entire system typically does not weigh much that is why it offers great portability. In comparison with other famous metal cutting processes like plasma cutting, this process neither requires electrical power nor compressed air.

oxyfuel cutting machines are undoubtedly a reliable technique that cut ferrous metal surfaces effectively. The process is not only versatile but also highly economical, and produces excellent quality materials.

Photo by Russ Ward