Almost every machine tool claims to be the best tool for machining stainless steel. For some applications, the tolerances that most machine tools achieve (and the subsequent effects of machining) are good. However, when a manufacturer or prototype manufacturer wants to produce high-precision parts, solder them or finish them immediately, there is actually only one way – abrasive jet cutting.
To illustrate our point of view, we will consider traditional machining as well as lasers and plasmas before investigating the value-added benefits of using abrasive jet cutting to cut stainless steel.
Stainless steel is usually processed using conventional milling machines and lathes. The biggest drawback is that stainless steel is easy to work harden. The process must be optimized to dissipate heat to ensure that the working material does not deform due to heat affected zones. In addition, the actual cutting tool (high speed steel or hard alloy) must always be sharp. After machining stainless steel on a machine tool, the operator usually leaves a rough edge. In order to actually complete the parts that are machined, an auxiliary process of boring or deburring is added.
Laser and plasma cutters are commonly used to cut thin gauge stainless steel. The use of any of these methods produces extremely high heat. Plasma cutting machines are primarily rough cutting tools that require some additional steps to obtain a clean surface. The CO2 laser is fast, but it doesn’t work in detail. Solid-state lasers perform finer cutting better than CO2, but none of them is more effective than abrasive jet cutting.
With a abrasive jet cutting, stainless steel cutting is fast and easy, and does not require many secondary operations. One of the most obvious benefits of abrasive jet cutting is that it is a cold cutting process, which means there is no heat affected zone. This will immediately weld the parts cut on the abrasive jet cutting. Another great benefit is that there is no material deformation due to heat, so detailed work can be done according to specifications. The operator does not have to worry about the possibility of melting or gouging.
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