Plasma or water jet cutter

I have a small machine shop with mills, presses, rotary swager, drills and welding capability.
I’m thinking about getting a plasma (or water jet?) cutter to precisely cut small stainless steel parts.
Material thickness is 0.115" (2.9mm +/-), and am wondering if the CrossFire 45A CNC Plasma Table would be adequate. How fast can the plasma cutter go around a piece that is say 6 linear inches, with an inner hole (separate cut)? We want to cut 200 - 400 of these pieces in a day.


All 3 will do what you want plasma, water jet and laser. It would all depend on what the parts are for. With water jet and laser there is no clean up. Plasma would need nitrogen to get the best cuts with the least clean up.

A plasma cnc is great but there are draw backs to it over water jet and laser. If you think you will have the work to make it pay off then I would go for the laser.

If this is a one time order I would look at getting them done elsewere for you and just add a % to the cost.

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This is not a one time order. There’s potential for ongoing and increasing orders. The part is used to hold a cloth locking loop (like a ripcord pin). The pin might see 25 to 30lbs of load at the most. The edges will have to smoothed. We usually throw parts into a tumbler. We can do some grinding too, but would rather rely on a tumbler due to the quantity. I’m interested in a clean operation, with little or no cleanup.

What kind of clean up are you talking about with the plasma? Is there a toxic component or waste associated with plasma cutting? Thanks for your help!

great information here…

by what you say you would be better off with water jet…

@NJL Both laser and plasma cutting stainless create fume that you need to take pretty seriously. The main component of concern is hexavalent chromium, which is a known carcinogen and causes other respiratory, kidney, liver, skin and eye problems. Basically, anything that heats stainless will produce fume. In answer to your question about speed for that part at 45A, you will cut at about 55 inches a minutes or so. If the hole in your part is round and requires good roundness and very low or no taper in the walls, laser will be a much better choice than plasma.

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watch the movie Erin Brockovich with Julia Roberts…great movie all about that chemical…

@toolboy. Great movie.

I agree. The bevel with the plasma and potential cleanup is more than the alternatives. Waterjet has a hefty consumables & disposal issue to deal with. At affordable price points for cutting stainless, it’s really an “abrasive jet” using a slurry of water & abrasives.

The laser would be a better solution.