There are many ways to cut steel plates. Achieving efficient accuracy as well as keeping the material in good shape is important. Intricate designs and detailed customer specifications are high on the list for companies that fabricate metal plate. Both water jet cutting and laser cutting provide means to cut various kinds of materials.
There are factors to keep in mind when choosing whether to use a laser jet or a water jet as a fabricating tool:
1.) Speed and thickness: Laser cutters are generally quicker than water jets, however water jets can cut steel plate up to 6” thick where as lasers can cut plate up to 1 ½” thick.
2.) Material: Materials that are highly reflective are more difficult for lasers to cut than water jet cutters to cut. Lasers cut best on smooth surfaces because rough surfaces can detour the beams focus. Both smooth and rough surfaces cut fine with a water jet cutter. Water jets can cut any sort of non-metal product without releasing bi-products, where as lasers may release bi-products when cutting materials such as plastic.
3.) Finish: Due to the fact that a laser cutter produces heat, a small heat-affected zone may be present on the material near the cut which may require secondary finishing. Water jets do not use heat so materials will not be distorted because of heat and will not have the heat affected zone.
Both water jet cutters and laser cutters are excellent ways to cut materials. Some materials such as slip resistant metal steel plates as manufactured by SlipNOT® can be cut by either means. While fabrication of this plate is suggested before the file hard surface is applied, some fabrication can be done in the field. Non-slip steel plates can be fabricated into specific sizes and shapes in order to meet the custom specifications of customers.
Laser jet and Water jet information based on:
“Cutting with Lasers and Water Jets- The Right Process at the Right Time.” www.metalformingmagazine.com . December 01, 2001. July 8, 2012 < http://www.metalformingmagazine.com/magazine/article.asp?aid=5723>