Oxy-fuel cutting is a cost-effective method of plate edge preparation for bevel and groove welding. It can be used to easily cut rusty and scaled plates and only requires moderate skill to produce successful results. The oxy-fuel gas cutting process creates a chemical reaction of oxygen with the base metal at elevated temperatures to sever the metal. The necessary temperature is maintained by a flame from the combustion of a selected fuel gas mixed with pure oxygen.
The process is based on the rapid formation of iron oxide which occurs when a high-pressure pure oxygen stream is introduced into the cutting envelope. The iron is quickly oxidized by the high purity oxygen and heat is liberated by this reaction. The oxygen stream and combusted gas transport the molten oxide away and the metal in its path burns, producing a narrow cut known as a kerf. Continued iron oxide formation requires large volumes of oxygen to be delivered to the cut zone at a controlled preset pressure. The intense heat produced by this reaction sustains the cutting process and the production of the cut.
Common oxy-fuel cutting applications are limited to carbon and low alloy steel. These materials can be cut economically, and the setup is quick and simple. For manual oxy-fuel gas cutting there is no electric power requirement and equipment costs are low. Materials from 1/16in (1.6mm) to 4in (102mm) thick are commonly cut using manual oxy-fuel gas cutting. Materials 12in (0.3m) and greater in thickness are successfully severed using machine cutting.