As you have already probably noticed, we are using many names interchangeably for this cutting process. Oxy cutting, oxy-fuel cutting, flame cutting and gas cutting all allude to the same fabrication method. It is a process where different fuel gases (most commonly acetylene) and pure oxygen are used for cutting.
Oxy cutting uses preheating the metal. So the first step is heating up a spot on the metal. Next, a high-pressure stream of pure oxygen hits this spot. This results in the ignition of oxygen and the cutting can start. The cutting flame temperatures reach upwards of 6000° Fahrenheit.
The cutting torch has a central hole with more holes surrounding it. The latter holes are for guiding oxygen and fuel gas onto the workpiece during the preheating phase. The central hole is for producing an oxygen jet that cuts the metal.
Flame cutting is suitable for steel cutting. Other metals are not available for this manufacturing method. The reason lies with the process itself. During cutting, the metal melts and forms iron oxide when reacting with oxygen.
The high-pressure jet blows the oxide away, forming a cut. So oxy-fuel cutting is not available for metals that do not react this way. This means that stainless steel, for example, is not suitable for this method.
The preheating phase brings about another limitation. The temperature requirements are pretty high to ignite the oxygen flame. If the metal’s melting temperature is lower than the necessary preheating one, problems may arise. Therefore, aluminum is another metal not suitable for flame cutting.
For these reasons, it is necessary to find an alternative when thick plates from materials other than carbon steel need cutting. One possibility is waterjet cutting.