Comparison of major cutting processes:

Waterjet machines — fast speed, able to cut thick material, good accuracy and finishing surface. Cuts virtually anything with no heat affected zone(HAZ). Some burr occurs near cut. Waterjet is widely used as metal cutting machine, glass cutting machine, ceramic tile cutting machine, marble cutting machine, and granite cutting machine. Waterjet cutting machine typically can cut as much as 4″ thick of steel (100mm).

Wire EDM — slow cutting speed, but able to cut very thick material. EDM has very high accuracy and excellent surface finish. No burr, a little HAZ. Only electrically conductive materials can be cut with EDM. Also there must be a way to drill a hole for putting through the wire for cutting.

Laser — good speed and precise cut when cutting thin material. Laser yields little burr, a little HAZ. Laser is suitable to cut non-reflective mild steel. A 6kw laster machine can cut as much as 25mm (1 inch) steel. Laser cutting machine is also very expensive.

Plasma — cuts at high speeds and generates heat that leaves rough edges. Accuracy is not very high with plasma cutting. Plasma cutting Can cut electrically conductive materials, up to 6″ of aluminum. Process yields HAZ. Special gas need to assist the process.

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