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Working with stainless steel

Chris Cramer

Member
Premium Member
#1
I decided to purchase 1/4" 304 stainless steel plate from metal supermarket, and I've found out that special equipment is needed to cut stainless due to the lack of oxidation. I've read that it can be cut with an oxy acetylene torch if carbon steel, or flux is added to the process. I am looking to do a rather complex cut out of the plate , so if I were to lay a bead of carbon steel from my welder down on the cutting path rather than placing a full plate of carbon steel on top would it still cut through the stainless plate?
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#2
I cant help you with your specific question, but if you find yourself out of options & maybe water jetting or laser cutting is a cost effective alternative, I can possibly help on the CAD side of things. Possibly some others on the forum already know the ins & outs of these methods better than me & could offer more.
 

Chris Cramer

Member
Premium Member
#5
I contacted Aero tech and their price for waterjet cutting is at 250/h, and waterjet cutting is the slowest process out of the most common processes. so I read about the differences in different cutting methods such as laser and plasma. The shapes I want cut aren't too detailed so precision isn't all that important, what method would be the cheapest and still show acceptional results for 1/4" stainless?
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#6
I had some stuff done at Clearcut 2 years ago & I don't recall it being that expensive.
http://clearcutmetal.com/
Maybe give them a shout to compare. They also have plasma which I think is the cheaper of the 3 methods, but sacrifices cut quality? (Others here probably know more & it could be material specific). here are other laser services in town. My experience with laser equation was wide range of capabilities but spendy for small jobs.

The thing to also ask vendors in general is minimum charge vs $/hr cut charge + any program set up charge. Sometimes they will give you a deal on certain common materials (read they have leftover from someone elses job so worth an ask). I think its fair to say we can cover your needs in terms of a drawing file to give the cutters, but I also know the cutting people do their own checks like for geometry & closure & then they still have to turn it into their own lingo for nesting parts etc which takes time. If the design is real simple, sometimes they will just draw it for you from a napkin drawing. But its up to you to sign off on it so check & double check.
 

Dabbler

Well-Known Member
#7
I had 4 pcs cut in 3/8" steel plate, total cutting was about 4.5 metres. The cost was about $120 for the cutting and 50$ for the plate. The $150 was the minimum charge but I felt that I could splurge and have the holes done by the waterjet as well. Yes, I could have made the cuts myself, but it saved me bandsaw time, a bandsaw blade wear and nearly an hour locating and drilling the 24 holes.

You mentioned a complex cut out. This is a fairly painless way to do it. The edges are completely finished, unless you need bright shiny. If it were me, I'd bandsaw and finish by hand if the total cut line was under a metre. If I knew the shape I could make better suggestions. Are there intricate inside curves, for instance, or are there many holes?

Since precision isn't important, how about cutting it out on a bandsaw, then finishing it by hand or by belt sander?

Remember that heat cutting, such as plasma and oxy require pickling to remove the blue flash caused by the heat.

I really like Laser Equations, but they are very $$$$. I only use them if I have paying work and the client really wants laser. I usually shift them to waterjet. A little less precise, a lot cheaper than laser, and nice finish.
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#8
Chris if a handheld plasma torch is suitable then you can come over and use mine.

Jigsaw with metal cutting blade?

@johnnielsen any cheap easy ideas for Chris?
 

Chris Cramer

Member
Premium Member
#9
I just recently purchased a 50 amp plasma cutter. I used it on the alluminum from my post on cutting 1/4" aluminum, and it ended up severing through instead of producing a clean cut. Is it harder to cut through stainless than aluminum with a Plasma cutter by it's hardness even though stainless does not conduct as much heat?
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#11
I just recently purchased a 50 amp plasma cutter. I used it on the alluminum from my post on cutting 1/4" aluminum, and it ended up severing through instead of producing a clean cut. Is it harder to cut through stainless than aluminum with a Plasma cutter by it's hardness even though stainless does not conduct as much heat?
Please post a picture Chris of your results.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#13
I never tried cutting AL with my plasma cutter but google found this:
"Cutting aluminum with air produces a rough edge coated with aluminum oxide. Different gases—usually an argon/helium mix—make more sense for aluminum."

https://www.thefabricator.com/article/plasmacutting/dont-rule-out-plasma-for-cutting-aluminum

If I had to cut complex shapes from 1/4 or thicker AL and plasma was nasty and I wanted to do it myself I would use vertical band saw slowed down a bit from wood cutting speed. You should be able to cut much thicker profiles this way - more then the 50 amp CUT50 can.

Also I wonder whatever cutting AL doesn't require more energy then equivalent thickness steel - does anyone know? Its the case for TIG welding.
 

Chris Cramer

Member
Premium Member
#14
Aluminum requires more energy to cut, because of how much heat it absorbs, same case with copper. The plasma cutter delivers clean easy cuts through 1/4" mild steel, so if the higher hardness of stainless doesn't make too much difference then it should cut well.