Laser Cutting vs Plasma Cutting: What is the Difference?

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10:00 AM

First developed in the 1950s, plasma cutting is used to cut stainless steel, copper, aluminium, and other metals that cannot be cut with flame. The plasma cutting method features a cutting touch through which concentrated electrical currents and high-velocity gas passes. This creates intense heat which is used to cut the metal. The gas removes the molten material from the bottom of the cut.

Laser cutting, on the other hand, cuts materials by using a focused beam of the laser. The laser melts, burns, or vaporizes materials. It is a precise method of cutting which uses carbon dioxide to engrave and cut metals.

Differences: Laser Cutting vs Plasma Cutting

Have you ever wondered what the difference between the two cutting methods is? Below is a guide to help you understand how both of them function:

1.   Materials

Plasma cutting is used for all types of metal materials. It is primarily used to cut the medium thickness plate.

Laser cutting is used to cut medium thin plates. Materials that can be cut include metal, non-metal, ceramic, and glass.

2.   Damage

The laser cutting machine has an accurate beam to cut materials, so it does not damage the workpiece. The plasma cutting machine, however, causes damage to the plate.

When the torch and nozzle of the plasma cutting machine are flawed, the plate will also come out flawed and uneven.

3.   Accuracy

The laser beam of the laser cutting machine is focused into small light points. Hence, its cutting slot is narrow.

However, the plasma cutting machine has a bigger cutting slot than that of the laser cutting machine.

4.   Speed

The laser cutting machine has a faster cutting speed than the plasma cutting machine. The speed of the laser cutter can reach 10m per minute, which is a lot faster than the plasma cutter.

This means that the laser cutting machine is more efficient than the plasma cutting machine, and can cut more materials in the same amount of time.

5.   Cutting Surface

The laser cutter has a smooth cutting surface. It is without burr, and the cutting edge is small. You will find no thermal deformation of the work material despite punching and sheering the workpiece. Mostly, a material cut by a laser cutting machine does not need secondary processing. However, the plate thickness is limited, and the processing cost can be pricey.

The plasma cutting machine, on the contrary, can cut 6 to 40mm of steel plate with different models and powers. It is also relatively less costly than the laser cutter.

6.   Precision

The best part about the laser cutting machine is its precision. Its laser has a positioning accuracy of 0.05mm, and repositioning accuracy of 0.02 mm. However, it requires a higher working environment condition to function.

The precision of the plasma cutting machine does not equal to that of the laser cutting machine, but it has a lower requirement for the working environment condition. With a range of cutting techniques, the plasma cutter requires lower skills for operators which is why most companies opt for it over the laser cutting machine.


Still confused over which cutting method would best suit your purpose? Don’t worry; contact us today and we will be happy to help