Stainless Steel Cutting
For cutting high-alloy, stainless and heat-resistant steels, a higher temperature is required than what can be reached with conventional autogenous cutting. Plasma, powder, or laser cutting are used instead.
The temperature of a plasma arc reaches tens of thousands of degrees Celsius. Applied to a narrow spot, it rapidly melts the metal, whereas the excess pressure of a plasma jet blows the molten metal away. This combination of extremely high temperature and efficient removal of the molten material makes plasma cutting very efficient for cutting any conductive material up to 100 mm thick.
Powder cutting is an efficient alternative technique for cutting stainless steel thicker than 50 mm and up to 800 mm. Fine iron powder is fed into the cutting zone, which, by reacting with oxygen, raises the temperature of the melt zone to almost 4000 K. As a result, the base metal melts, while the kinetic energy of oxygen and powder blows the molten metal out of the cutting zone.
It is possible to cut stainless steel as thick as 2.5 meters using a burning bar, also called thermal or oxygen lance.