ESAB Cutting Systems, Florence, S.C., manufactures a variety of cutting and welding equipment. For more information, visit www.esabna.com.
Water Injection Improves Plasma Cutting
A plasma cutting head with water injection cuts faster and produces less heat affected zone than conventional plasma systems.
When Jacquet Southeast opened its new Charlotte, N.C., facility in February 2010, the supplier of stainless steel and nickel alloy plate was looking to equip the shop with the latest cutting technology available. One such choice was the Sabre DXG with a water injection plasma cutting head from ESAB Cutting Systems.
Adding water injection to the plasma cutter is designed to reduce the cost of cutting stainless steel and aluminum while improving edge quality and dross. Water injection offers cutting speeds up to 100 percent faster than shield-gas systems, the manufacturer claims. The system allows the head to switch automatically between standard dual-gas cutting and water-injected plasma cutting, but Jacquet Southeast uses the machine exclusively in the water injection mode.
“We cut a lot of rings, discs and shapes,” says Manager Ryan Hendrix. “The water injection cutting system provides a nicer finish on stainless steel plate than ordinary plasma cutting, with a smaller heat affected zone.”
Other Jacquet locations have relied on waterjet cutting to get these finishes—and Jacquet Southeast uses waterjet as well—but the plasma water injection method is much faster and less expensive than waterjet, Hendrix says. His company uses waterjet on very high precision parts, but water injection plasma for about 60 percent of its workload.
Because water injection plasma uses only nitrogen gas, it is less expensive than normal plasma cutting that uses a hydrogen-argon mix, says Hendrix, who has seen a definite decrease in his cost for consumables. Due to the success Jacquet Southeast has had with water injection plasma, other Jacquet North America facilities are considering retrofitting the cutting heads on their machines.