Shaping Heavy Steel Plate and Plasma Steel Cutting
When undertaking large-scale projects, it is common to need materials that are up to the task. Heavy steel plate can fit that bill. The thicker plate material is excellent for heavy-duty projects. The only potential drawback is that the very nature of heavy plate makes it difficult to cut. Plasma steel cutting is a viable solution to that problem. At Metalwest, our experienced team is ready to meet all of your heavy steel plate and plasma-cutting needs.
What Is Heavy Steel Plate?
Heavy steel plate is steel plate thicker than three inches. In some sectors, such as mining, energy, and automotive, a thicker plate material is required so it can withstand forces beyond the typical pressure. To this end, heavy steel plate often contains alloys designed to augment steel’s natural strength and hardness. This allows it to be used most commonly in applications like infrastructure development and building construction equipment.
Heavy steel plate grades vary in their special properties. These are the grades we work with at Metalwest:
- Hardox 450 and 500 wear plate—This heavy plate grade is abrasion-resistant. It is often the right choice when building pieces that would otherwise be heavily abused, such as gears, cutting edges, and sprockets, and larger constructions like excavator buckets, heavy duty containers, and dump trucks.
- Strenx 100—This high strength grade is perfect for structural or heavy load-bearing applications.
- Weathering A588—A588 is ideal for applications which should require minimal maintenance. It forms a stable protective layer of rust around it, so even ambient water proves less of a problem. This is evidenced by A588 being used to build the fence between the Spokane River and the Spokane Convention Center.
At Metalwest, we also keep aluminum plate up to 1″ thick, stainless plate up to 1/2″ thick, and steel and aluminum floor plate from 1/16″ up to 1/2″ thick in stock.
Plasma Steel Cutting
Because heavy steel plate is designed to be tougher and unyielding, traditional methods for steel cutting are not always enough to effectively pierce the thicker material. Enter plasma steel cutting. This revolutionary process takes plasma welding to the next level and can readily sheer through heavy plate steel.
Plasma cutting uses the heat that is generated from a superheated plasma electric arc to cut steel parts. With each year, the method becomes more cost-effective, making it perhaps the quickest and most economical means of cutting thicker steel plate. Because the method also uses plasma power to erase evidence of metal-melting fusions, the impressive results speak for themselves.
How Does It Work?
Plasma steel cutting works under the principle of cutting via electrically conductive materials using an accelerated stream of hot plasma. Within the plasma cutter, a pressurized gas (usually oxygen, though other inert gasses can sometimes be used depending on the material being cut) is propelled through a nozzle in a high-velocity, highly concentrated stream. Within the gas, an electric arc is generated between the material being cut and an electrode within the nozzle.
As this occurs, some of the gas is ionized, and an electrically-conductive channel of plasma is formed. The ionized and superheated plasma works with the pressurized gas to cut away the molten metal, and a clean cut is made. A grounding clamp built into the plasma cutting machine completes a full electric circuit.
Applications of Plasma Steel Cutting
It is safe to say that plasma cutting is an effective method for most heavy steel plate projects. It is most commonly used in manufacturing workshops, salvage and scrapping operations, auto repair and restoration, and industrial construction. The method can be used on a wide variety of metals, including stainless steel, carbon steel, alloy steel, aluminum, brass, and copper.
Because plasma steel cutting creates clean and meticulous cuts, it is already an appealing choice for all in the metalwork industry. The additional benefits of being relatively inexpensive and quickly efficient make it the most appealing choice for both massive industrial operations and more modest hobbyist shops.
Metalwest, now a part of the Norfolk Iron & Metal Group, has been a leader in processing and distributing non-ferrous and carbon flat-rolled metal products for decades. We serve a customer base that spans the entire United States, catering to large- and small-scale projects from our eight locations across the country. We have more than 650,000 square feet at our disposal to process and house metalwork.
In addition to the plasma steel cutting we perform, we also have the equipment and expertise to precisely form plate thicker than two inches, including threading holes. Other in-house processing methods include shearing, leveling, blanking, slitting, and polishing. Customers have the option of painted, polished, and coated materials in addition to aluminum, stainless, hot and cold rolled, and galvanized materials in sheets and coils.
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