ESAB Knowledge center.
How Does the Oxy-fuel Cutting Process Work?
- Most cost efficient process for carbon steel cutting.
- Can be combined with plasma, or waterjet on the same part.
ESAB's experience with oxy-fuel cutting dates back to 1907.
Oxy-fuel cutting is a chemical reaction between pure oxygen and steel to form iron oxide. It can be described as rapid, controlled rusting. Preheat flames are used to raise the surface or edge of the steel to approximately 1800°F (bright red color). Pure oxygen is then directed toward the heated area in a fine, high pressure stream. As the steel is oxidized and blown away to form a cavity, the preheat and oxygen stream are moved at constant speed to form a continuous cut.
Only metals whose oxides have a lower melting point than the base metal itself can be cut with this process. Otherwise as soon as the metal oxidizes it terminates the oxidation by forming a protective crust. Only low carbon steel and some low alloys meet the above condition and can be cut effectively with the oxy-fuel process.
A quality oxy-fuel cut has the following characteristics:
- Square top corner (with minimum radius)
- Cut face flat top to bottom (no undercut)
- Cut face square with respect to top surface
- Clean smooth surface with near vertical drag lines, and
- Little to no slag on bottom edge (easily removed by scraping)
For detailed information about how to achieve better cut quality with oxy-fuel cutting, download the free PDF file below: