Most individuals in the metal-work industry are conversant with oxy-fuel cutting. This process is commonplace in both the heavy industry and light industrial process, including repairs. Oxy-fuel cutting has been in existence for decades. Unfortunately, recently, oxy-acetylene welding has gradually faded into oblivion, as it is no longer broadly used. More modern welds are being implemented to yield faster and remarkable results. Still, it doesn’t imply that oxy-fuel plate cutting can’t be used. As a matter of fact, many industries still use it for various metal works. Needless to say, we need to understand what oxy-fuel cutting, also known as oxygen-fuel cutting is and how precisely it’s being used.
What Is Oxy-Fuel?
Most of us are conversant with oxy-fuel systems, but not many understand what oxy-fuel actually is. To begin with, we will trace this process to its roots, which dates back to 1903. During this period, Edmond Fouché and Charles Picard, two French engineers, founded the oxygen-acetylene welding process. This technique involves the use of pure oxygen, rather than just air, to increase a flame’s temperature, significantly. Combining this with acetylene can increase the temperature to around 6,332 ℉. Metal materials can be welded or cut under room temperature using a torch – this is referred to as localized melting. With this, an innovation that would transform the metal industry was created, thanks to these French engineers.
However, it is important to know that pure oxygen isn’t the only fuel that can be used in various oxygen-fuel processes; there are other gases that easily replace oxygen, including liquified petroleum gas, hydrogen, propylene, natural gas, and propane. These gases have unique properties that make them useful in Oxy-fuel cutting. One is tempted to assume that oxygen is the fuel used in oxy-fuel systems. However, this is not the case. Contrary to most people’s view on this, oxygen is chemically combined with the fuel to generate heat – known as oxidation. This heat is produced as the metal being cut oxidizes in the oxy-fuel cutting process.
If you want to cut mild steel, then oxy-fuel plate cutting is the ideal technique to use. To begin with, you need to have a pre-heated mild steel before cutting; this can be done with a cutting torch. Heat the material to an ignition temperature of about 1760 ℉. At this ideal temperature, you can apply oxygen through a nozzle to the heated section. With the presence of oxygen, a reaction occurs, causing the heated steel to transform into liquid steel. One factor to note is that the steel melting point is higher than that of the resulting waste matter. Another function oxygen performs is to remove the liquid waste matter without affecting the steel. An exothermic reaction occurs when the steel is cut while using the cutting torch. During this process, the steel maintains a very high temperature. Importantly, not all metals can successfully pass through this process due to high alloy content. The oxy-fuel cutting process suits metals with low carbon.
What Makes Oxy-Fuel Special?
Oxy-fuel cutting torches are ideal for cutting through thick walls. However, if your focus is on a thin wall (less than 3 inches), then you should go for plasma torches. Although it is worth noting that your cuts may not be clean if you are cutting through a wall of 24 inches, using oxy-acetylene. Nevertheless, you will achieve more success with that than plasma cutters. In summary, oxy-fuel is ideal and portable to handle most industrial works.