Hypertherm Plasma Systems.
Why Plasma?
Comparison of plasma, oxyfuel and laser. 
High volume
Business volume
Low volume
6 mm 1/4"

Thin
Material
thickness
Thick

38 mm
(1 1/2")
Oxyfuel
Oxyfuel is limited to mild steel and is not effective on stainless steel or aluminum.
Plasma
Plasma provides an optimal mix of cut quality, productivity and operating cost for mild steel, stainless and aluminum across a wide range of thicknesses at a competitive capital equipment price.
Laser
Laser provides excellent cut quality and productivity on material less than 6 mm. Laser technology has high capital equipment, running and maintenance costs, therefore a high level of business volume is required to pay back the cost of the equipment.
  Oxyfuel Plasma Laser
Cut Quality
  • Good angularity
  • Large heat-affected zone
  • Dross levels require rework
  • Not effective on stainless steel or aluminium
  • Excellent angularity
  • Small heat-affected zone
  • Virtually dross-free
  • Good to excellent fine-feature cutting
  • Excellent angularity
  • Small heat-affected zone
  • Virtually dross-free
  • Good to excellent fine-feature cutting with narrowest kerf
 
Productivity
  • Slow cutting speeds
  • Pre-heat time increases pierce times
  • Very fast cutting speeds for all thicknesses
  • Very fast pierce times
  • Quick-disconnect torches maximize productivity
  • Very fast on thin material (less than 6 mm-1/4") and slower on thicker material
  • Long pierce times on thick material
Operating Cost
  • Poor productivity and required rework drive cost per part higher than plasma.
  • Long consumable life, good productivity and excellent cut quality drive the cost per part lower than other technologies.
  • High costs per part due to power requirements, gas consumption, high maintenance costs and relatively low cut speeds on thick material.
Maintenance
  • Simple maintenance requirements can often be performed by in-house maintenance groups.
  • Moderate maintenance requirements: many components are serviceable by in-house maintenance groups.
  • Complex maintenance tasks require specialized technicians.