Laser Cutting Machine VS Plasma Cutting Machine: How to Choose


Plasma cutting and laser cutting are important means of processing metal materials today. The difference between laser cutting machine and plasma cutting machine is important when choosing the best solution for your application. While one method is not necessarily better than the other, each method provides certain features and benefits that make one method better suited to an application.

This article will introduce the uses and advantages of laser cutting machines and plasma cutting machines in detail, and give relevant selection suggestions.


What is laser cutting?

Laser cutting has always been considered a safe, efficient and reliable cutting process. Laser cutting uses laser optics and CNC to direct a focused, high-power beam. The core component is an optical fiber equipped with elements such as erbium, thulium and dysprosium. When used with nitrogen, oxygen or compressed air, fiber lasers can cut a variety of metals with high precision. At the same time, the auxiliary gas blows the slag out of the cutting groove without secondary processing. Laser cutting is commonly used in industrial manufacturing applications to cut a variety of materials, from flat metal to structural and piping materials.

Types of laser cutting

Many industries harness the power of laser cutting and apply it to a range of materials, including wood, glass, stone, plastic and sheet metal. At present, there are three main types of lasers used in laser cutting:

  • CO2 laser
  • Fiber-optic laser
  • Crystal laser

Additionally, there are many different types of cutting methods used to cut different materials. Some of these methods include:

  • Vaporization cutting
  • Meltblown
  • Thermal stress cracking
  • Silicon wafer stealth dicing
  • Reactive cleavage


Benefits of Laser Cutting

  • Precise edge

    When cutting with traditional methods such as blades, burrs or rough surfaces are often seen and must be polished and smoothed. When using laser cutting, this is not a problem. Laser cutting has earned a reputation for being extremely precise.

  • Precise detail

    The laser beam does not wear out. This improves accuracy. Additionally, this allows the creation of complex designs that would otherwise be impossible due to the size of typical lasers and the fact that they are guided by high-performance computers.

  • Low maintenance

    Traditional cutting methods require routine maintenance and sharpening of the blade. Lasers do not require this maintenance and can operate for extended periods of time without maintenance.

  • Maximum efficiency

    Whether you're prototyping or going into full-scale production, the laser requires no adjustments or modifications. This allows for optimum efficiency at the time of manufacture. And his work is very environmentally friendly.

  • Versatile

    Laser cutting is capable of cutting a variety of materials and thicknesses. And there are more than 25,000 laser cutting applications.

  • Quick Setup

    The setup time for laser cutting is relatively fast compared to other metal cutting techniques. It is also much easier to make adjustments when custom manufacturing is required.

What is plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting technology was first developed in the 1950s to cut copper, stainless steel, aluminum and other metals that cannot be cut with flames. Plasma cutting works by rapidly jetting hot plasma through a conductive metal. This hot plasma is created by sending an electric arc to a gas such as nitrogen or oxygen. When the plasma jet hits the metal, recombination occurs, returning the gas to its normal state, releasing intense heat. It is in this interaction that the fourth state of matter is created. We call this state plasma. CNC plasma cutters use the power of electric current and compressed gas to cut metal. The gas then pushes the molten material from the bottom of the cut. Plasma cutters are commonly used in manufacturing workshops, construction, automotive repair and restoration, and other similar industries.


Why plasma cutting?

Metal workers prefer plasma cutting for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • Can cut thick metal (approximately 1.5 inches thick) and various surface types. In the process of cutting medium and thick plates, very high cutting speeds can be achieved, much higher than laser cutting and flame cutting.

  • Provides extremely precise, fast and repeatable cuts (when used with CNC machines)

  • The initial equipment investment is lower than that of the laser, and the later maintenance cost is also much lower.

Laser Cutting vs Plasma Cutting: How to Choose

In contrast, plasma cutting machines and laser cutting machines have obvious selection divisions:

  • Laser cutters can cut and engrave very thin metals without affecting the material.

  • Laser cutters can be used for other purposes such as trimming and engraving.

  • Metals that have reflective surfaces or cannot be cut with a flame machine are usually cut with plasma.

  • Plasma cutters can cut thicker materials.

  • Laser cutters are better for thinner, more complex metals.

  • Laser cutters are also used to cut non-metals, ceramics and glass.

Benefits of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting was developed as a safer and more reliable process for manufacturing and production needs. Laser cutting is a non-contact process. The laser beam does not physically touch the material, but uses heat to cut the material.

Advantages compared to plasma cutting:

  • Higher precision

  • Higher tolerance

  • Better for complex cuts

  • Low distortion

  • Cut a wider range of materials

  • Less slag


Benefits of Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutting offers versatility for different types of metals. The arc is used to cut any conductive metal. They can usually do a job in a quarter of the time of any other cutting tool.

Advantages over laser cutting:

  • Reduce metal loss

  • Higher quality finish

  • Reduce maintenance

  • Higher plate cutting speed



So which is better, plasma or laser? Although the ultimate answer depends on the material you're cutting, the type of cut you'll be making, and your budget. But in terms of cost and startup, plasma cutters are more advantageous. Hopefully this article has given you enough information to choose from.

Durmark is a leading metalworking machinery manufacturer in China, offering high-quality laser cutting machines and plasma cutting machines. Welcome to contact us to communicate with us.

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