Cutting services are methods used to cut materials into different shapes and sizes. They can perform simple cutting jobs, complex shaping processes, and nesting procedures that minimize material waste.
Cutting services can process standard or nonstandard materials such as metals, plastics, thermoplastics, rubber, glass, stone, marble, granite, composites, and foams.
Types of Cutting Services
There are a number of different cutting methods and services available. The suitability of each process to the service depends on the material being cut, the desired tolerance, the volume of material, and the cost.
Many cutting services perform band-saw cutting operations and other saw-based processes. Band-saw cutting services use a power saw with an endless, toothed steel belt or band that is driven continuously around the circumference of two pulleys. Other types of saw-based cutting services are circular cold-saw and miter cutting. Circular cold-saw cutting services use a toothed, circular blade which rotates at a high speed. If an angled cut is desired, miter cutting is used.
Cutting services that perform electrical discharge machining (EDM) operations use specialized equipment. EDM cutting services specialize in cutting conductive materials with a thin electrode. This electrode is a thin wire (usually .004"- .012") that follows a programmed path without physically touching the part. With EDM cutting, the part is charged to a certain level and surrounded by de-ionized water. This generates a spark which jumps the gap and melts a small amount of material on the part.
Flame, Laser, and Plasma Cutting
Cutting services may perform flame cutting, laser cutting, and plasma cutting operations. Flame cutting equipment uses an oxygen or gas flame to heat metals in preparation for cutting. Laser cutting services use a CNC-controlled, non-contact tool to make quick and precise cuts with a narrow cutting groove. Laser cutting is an adaptable operation that can be set up quickly and can cut through different types of materials. Plasma cutting services perform plasma-arc cutting, an operation which involves melting an area with an arc and then cutting it with a high-velocity, high-temperature, ionized gas.
There are two main types of laser cutting: CO2 and Nd: YAG. Both types of laser cutting services offer advantages such as high accuracy, cutting of unlimited shapes, clean cutting that requires minimum finishing, minimal generation of heat, and distortion-free cutting.
Routing, Pipe, and Waterjet-Based Cutting
Routing cutting services, tube or pipe cutting services, and cutting services that use water and water abrasive jets are available. Routing cutting services use a vertical, high-speed, revolving spindle and cutter which mills out the surfaces or edges of wood, plastic, metal, and other materials. Tube or pipe cutting services specialize in cutting tubing, pipe, or bar stock to a desired length or miter angle in a variety of shapes (square, rectangle, round, etc.).
Cutting services that use water and water abrasive jets use heavily-pressurized water (20,000 - 60,000 psi) flowing through a nozzle ("jewel") that is approximately 0.010" in diameter. Benefits include minimal heating during cutting, low side-loads, and the ability to accomplish complex shapes and tight inside radii. Water jet cutting is well-suited for prototypes and short runs because of their fast setup and programming times. Water and water abrasive jets are used mostly for two-dimensional cutting (2D cutting).