Plasma Cutting vs Laser Cutting: What’s the Difference?

Jul 5, 2023 | Plasma Cutting Tips

Call Cyrious Metal Works at 903-345-1841 for highly-efficient plasma tables and tools.

You can improve the condition of your welding project with accurate cutting tools. For example, Hypertherm plasma cutters have a reputation for their durability and accuracy. However, you may have heard that laser cutters have more benefits and are trying to find the best tool.

Plasma cutting vs laser cutting often comes down to the pros and cons of each system. The Cyrious Metal Works team deals with welding inquiries unrelated to our products all the time! Read more to figure out which cutter is right for you.

Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutters utilize the fourth state of matter by ionizing a gas with energy, usually heat. The gas becomes plasma, which can make clean, precise cuts in conductive materials. This tool melts the undesired material and produces easily removable residue.

Conventional plasma cutters typically use shop air from an air compressor, but ones with more precision use a specified gas mixture. Most mixes use argon, nitrogen, or oxygen in some capacity.

Laser Cutting

In laser cutting, the machine uses a thermal process to form the beam to melt materials. The process occurs from a co-axial gas jet, exciting gaseous electrons and channeling the resulting light through a lens. The focused beam of light can burn or melt through different materials at high speeds.

Carbon dioxide lasers are more common than neodymium and neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet lasers due to the material availability. You can use CO2 lasers for fusion, flame, and remote cutting. Other gasses, like nitrogen and oxygen, assist the process by helping remove waste or increase the energy output.

When To Use These Cutting Methods

Plasma cutting vs laser cutting comes down to where, on what, and how long you intend to use it. You can get different results from each method because of how it produces the force each method uses to cut.

The light from laser cutting has high precision abilities due to how small you can make the beam. Lasers can cut through various materials without damaging the entire sample, including wood, ceramic, and plastic. 

However, laser cutters can be exceptionally costly and require maintenance for smaller parts. As such, few people own a laser cutter, but some organizations have one readily available for the public.

Plasma cutters can slice through heavy conductive metals and typically take less time and money to maintain. However, because of how plasma works, you can only use them on conductive materials. The larger opening in a plasma cutter also means that cuts can be less precise and slower, but they exceed expectations for daily metalworking.

Use Your Discretion and Contact an Expert

If you consider the material you need to work with and your budget, plasma cutting vs laser cutting becomes easier to decide. However, our team is always here to help when you have welding and cutting questions for various materials. Learn how plasma cutters work, find the best CNC tables, and more with Cyrious Metal Works. Call 903-345-1841 to ask questions or get welding advice today!