Stainless Steel is one of the revolutionary products of the 20th century with its routes dating back to as far as 1904. Stainless steel is the material of choice for many of the products we use in our day to day life, such as cutlery or mobile phone components, but each of these products have varying thicknesses and require a range of cutting methods to accomplish thick and intricate work a like. The development of modern cutting methods has enabled us to move away from the crude and rudimentary uses of stainless steel to highly delicate pieces of art and identical product production in their millions. The main methods used today are laser, fire, and water; each with its own benefits and draw backs.
If you’ve ever owned a stainless steel piece of jewellery or shadow lamp, it has most likely been cut using a laser cutter. Laser cutting is the most precise method of cutting steel, so much so it is able to cut and etch intricate designs where other forms of cutting would either ruin the material or produce poorly finished work. It involves firing a laser at the steel which cuts by burning or vaporizing the material. But what are the benefits of laser cutting? Laser cutting achieves minimal distortion of material so it can cut anything with a tolerance of less than 0.130mm within reason. Tolerance levels vary from mild steel, aluminium and stainless steel, but for the latter in particular it is a very effective and highly popular method.
Flame cutting is an easy method for cutting steel with a maximum thickness of 400mm and a tolerance of +/-2mm. Flame cutting is the main process for the cutting of sheet metal using gages to produce a controlled flame that melts away the metal and blasts away the molten slag. This is a cost effective choice because of the efficiency of the method, making it ideal for production runs. The flame is obtained by the combustion of a specified gas mixed with pure oxygen. This method can be done manually by holding the torch and being carefully guided by the operator, or mechanised where the torch is mounted to a machine – as in production runs. Despite the fact this method is chiefly used for the cutting of thick sheet metal, complex shapes can also be cut. But in comparison with laser cutting, it may require an additional finishing process due to its inexactitude.
Water Jet Cutting
Water jet cutting uses a high velocity jet of water similar to the natural erosion process, but at a highly accelerated rate – also known as micro erosion. The constant jet of high pressure water causes the material to effectively erode very quickly, however it is not appropriate for highly detailed work because of the cracks the jet causes on the line to be cut in order to erode the material. This method has the capability of cutting through material of up to 240mm and is ideal for materials which are sensitive to high temperatures and may warp. This is because water jet, when compared to any other type of cutting, has a lower working temperature, allowing metals to be cut without interfering with their natural properties.
Additionally, there is a reduced need for secondary finishing with this method because of the lack of heat-affected areas, and no tension is applied during the process. Water jet cutting is recommended for high performance metals.
Choosing a supplier you can trust
If you require steel cutting of any size, be it a one off bespoke order or a full production run, you can trust the professionals at B&S Steel Suppliers who specialise in steel profiling and many other forms of steel work. B&S Steel Suppliers based in London provide all the above methods of steel cutting, making us one of the most dedicated steel profilers of all types and specifications nationwide. We have been established for over 20 years and have expanded our client base, and our business, thanks to our excellent levels of customer service combined with a vast range of steel in stock. We can provide next day delivery on a wide range of steel products at the most competitive prices. Browse the B&S Steel website for more information or pick up the phone today!