What Offers Best Value for Industries Today-Plasmacam Table, Waterjet, or Laser?

If you are a seasoned professional in the manufacturing or metal fabrication sphere, by experience it will be a lot easier for you to tell which among these celebrated material cutting methods offer greater value than others:

  • Plasmacam table
  • Laser cutter 
  • Waterjet cutter

When you speak of best “value”, a lot of the response you will get will somehow get subjective with respect to how the respondent interacted with, to what he deems is most valuable according to his needs. To some people, value for them will come through the cost by which the equipment was purchased, others will have it via the operating cost, cut part precision, cut quality, or production rate.

Below is an illustration of these differences existing between these popular and celebrated material cutting methods:

Purchase Cost

When it comes to the initial investment cost to acquire modern material cutting equipment, plasma cutting machines usually command the lowest cost ever. With respect to the size of the feature, and type, a CNC qualified cutting machine could command a tag price of around $15,000 to $300,000.

Definitely, a big range to look at, but a good percentage of CNC plasma machines that have been sold in the past 2 years is below the $100,000 mark. When you try to make a cost comparative analysis between laser and waterjet system, then what you are really about to embark on is an authentic CNC machine. It is not just about being an entry-level, low cost, or a garage-shop type of equipment. With this in mind, you might be going to start somewhere close to $50,000.

For writing and educational purposes, let us take on the assumption that plasma would command an amount between $50 to $100,000. CNC waterjet type machines, they would usually require to have as well that costly Ultra High-Pressure Intensifier Pump. This will drive it to range from around $100,000 to as high as $350,000. Things would depend upon, of course, on given options, features, and offered sizes.

Finally, as you might hear from other insiders in the industry, CNC laser equipment usually commands the highest market price. They are usually very expensive.

Operating Cost

With regard to the operating cost, there are many things that you will need to take into account, such as consumables, gases, power, routine maintenance cost, and abrasives. The expected operating cost for plasma would again be the lowest in this department. Typically, for this type of material cutting machines, they would usually fetch around $15/hour cost. On the other hand, laser cutting machines would run at around $20/hour. And waterjet? They are so far the most expensive in this aspect, commanding at least $30/hour.

Flexibility

Unlike speed or cost, there is no easy way we can quantify this criterion. But it will weigh a lot when you put into consideration the array of materials that you can handle in your buying decision.

So far, waterjet cutting technology offers users the greatest level of flexibility among these 3 well-known material cutting methods — due to their ability to cut through a wide spectrum of materials. Laser cutters can’t handle metallics, fabric, some fiberglass, and plastics. As for the plasmacam Australia cutting systems, they can efficiently handle conductive metals and they are most recommended only for stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum.

Conclusion

A lot of other equally important things can be taken into consideration here, but this level of comparison here is offering us a good overview of relative ratings that industry users value the most when it comes to the CNC plasmacam Australian systems. The outcome would be depending upon the criteria that you and your team value the most.

Learn How to Maintain Your Waterjet Cutter

One effective measure to know that you have a top of the line waterjet cutter system is that it should be capable of handling a sundry of materials for cutting with extremely high pressure of water. This is the method of choice in the industry when handling materials the cutting of which could hurt its integrity and quality due to its sensitivity to high temperature.

For instance, if you want to process rubber, glass, metal alloys like titanium and stainless steel — you can do so in a more efficient manner with a water jet machine. Such materials are typically process cut using this method. It allows you to obtain dimensional accuracy of ±0.005 inches.

Utilizing supersonic water means the machine blades will not need sharpening. Additionally, toxic fumes, dust, and a host of other environmental factors are alleviated when compared to other material cutting methods.

Proper Maintenance is Crucial

Wrong handling and lack of proper care and maintenance for these pieces of cutting equipment can bring about inaccurate production, heightened use of consumables, and can you guess the worst-case scenario? It can even lead to complete and utter machine failure.

Increased water usage and acquisition of replacement parts are likely to drive up the maintenance cost of your equipment. Inaccurate dimensions for the parts and operational downtime often lead to loss of business.

Manufacturers of waterjet cutter systems recommend that after use, the equipment and its components should be cleaned thoroughly. Or have it as part of its routine maintenance done at specified intervals. As always, maintenance and repairs should always be conducted in a clutter-free and clean environment.

Pump and Table Maintenance

Water jet cutting machines come in several different styles and each of which necessitates their respective maintenance protocols. If you own one, it is paramount to familiarize yourself with what goes well with your system, since that is the only way you can prolong its service life and optimize its use and benefits.

A waterjet system that can provide you with the same nozzle power with the help of the lower-pressure pump will likely necessitate less amount of maintenance and the odds of needing to replace high-pressure components will be minimal, too.

A pump machine may be capable of delivering 55,000 to 60, 000 psi. Sometimes, you are on the practical side of things and more economical to just run it at that level of pressure only.

waterjet cutter

The higher the pressure, the more likely that your check valves, seals, swivels, hoses, on/off valves and other similar components will wear out faster. Hence, it is of prime importance that we heed and follow every manufacturer prescribed maintenance routines and procedures for your machine since this is the only guaranteed way your business can veer away from unplanned downtime and optimize the use and the benefits that your system has to offer.

A direct-drive pump is much easier and simpler to understand when compared to intensifier pumps. Aside from that, they are also preferred than many others because they are far easier to troubleshoot and maintain.

Several pump styles come with a 1,000 hours of preventive-maintenance interval. Fabrication shops need to inspect pumps now and then, and see to it also that high-pressure plumbing doesn’t have leaks.

If leaks are affirmatively present, address it immediately. Otherwise, leaks that are left on their own and not addressed rightly will likely render damage to the systems. The worst part is it may render your machines beyond fix.