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The Cutting Process

Flamecutting or “burning” of carbon steel plate is an effective and efficient way to cut carbon and alloy steel plate to size and shape. Burning begins by heating a spot on the edge or surface of a plate with an oxy-fuel flame, then injecting a high pressure stream of pure oxygen once the spot is red hot. Both the preheat flame and the cutting oxygen are delivered through a specially designed nozzle or tip. In the presence of the cutting oxygen stream, the red hot steel literally burns, combining with the oxygen to form iron oxides. It is this burning that cuts the plate as the stream of cutting oxygen advances along the path of the cut. The burning gives off an intense heat – greater than 2800º F – which melts steel bordering the cut path, turning it into slag that is ejected at the bottom of the cut along with the iron oxide by-products of the burning.

Proper flamecutting results in a smooth burn and a cut edge that is square within 1-1/2 degrees to the surface of the plate. A number of variables determine that outcome. These include certain specifics like: size and design of the cutting tip; pressure and volume of the gasses; speed of the cut. All of these vary by thickness and grade. However, it is the skill and experience of the burner that will choose the right combination of these to overcome the more subjective conditions. Temperature of the plate, internal soundness, chemistry, surface scale – all of these can have an affect. An average burner may be able to cut 4” or even 6” thick plate; it takes some years of experience to be able to routinely and successfully deal with 12” or 14”; there are very, very few that can handle very heavy plate of 18” or 24” thick.

Oliver has a lineup of 11 flamecutting machines, operated by burners with an average of 15 years experience. In addition to being experts on lighter plate, our burners routinely cut difficult grades like 4340 plate up to 8” thick; 4140 plate or 1045 plate up to 14” thick; and A36 plate to 24” thick.

flame cutting

flame cutting

flame cutting

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