Artem Komarov noted that invented over 100 years ago, oxyfuel cutting remains one of the most popular metals forming processes due to its flexibility, portability, simplicity, and affordability compared to arc welding and plasma cutting systems. They may seem similar, but there are important differences in safety, performance, and durability.
Direct burner or combi burner
Oxygen burners come in two main types. If you only plan on cutting or grooving (including removing defective welds, deburring, preparing welds, and cleaning rivets), then a straight torch offers the most benefits. Because they are simple, they are economical and extremely durable. Straight torches are also available in extended reach and high output models for use on steel structures, steel mills and scrap metal applications.
Combination torches offer straight torches that are used exclusively for cutting, and combination torches with a handle that can be used to use attachments for cutting, heating, and soldering.
Handles and torch attachments are sold separately, so you can start with just the ones you need and then purchase additional parts. Many people start with a “kit” that includes a torch handle and various combinations of attachments and tip sizes. These kits may also include gas hose, oxygen and fuel regulators, tip cleaner, firing pin, safety glasses, tip diagrams, and an operator’s manual.
About cutting fuel
While acetylene remains the most popular fuel for cutting and heating, using an alternative fuel such as propane or natural gas can provide cost, safety, and productivity benefits. However, keep in mind that “gas welding” requires acetylene as the fuel gas as it releases CO2 during combustion to protect the molten puddle. Also, keep in mind that alternative fuels require equipment regulators, hoses, and fuel-specific cutting and heating tips.
For fuel gas flexibility, choose burners with a «spiral» mixer or «pressure equalizer» as they are designed to handle low pressure fuels (such as propane) and high-pressure fuels (such as acetylene). These burners maintain gas pressure and mix it through turbulence between the handle and the burner head.
About equipment size
Oxygen cutting equipment manufacturers typically classify torches and regulators as light, medium, heavy, or extra heavy based on the associated torch, nozzle, and gas flow regulator capacity.
People choose lightweight oxyfuel cutting equipment for small and thin steel structures because it does not require much gas consumption. Additionally, the torch’s compact size makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces and at difficult angles, such as welding around the circumference of a pipe or working on complex metal fabrication projects.
A manufacturing business, as well as businesses involved in agriculture and general repair, mechanical or even hobbyist, will require, at a minimum, medium-duty equipment capabilities, while businesses involved in construction, pipelines, shipbuilding, heavy equipment repair, scrap metal, and applications Heavy-duty equipment must be selected for demolition. A good place to start is to review tip selection charts, such as those typically found in a manufacturer’s catalog, to match the tip size and flowmeter to your application and process, and then select the appropriate torch or equipment. Cutting and welding tips are sorted by hole size, and heating tips are sorted by BTU per hour.
What happens if the burner fails
Another factor related to “use” is the ability of the equipment to withstand environmental conditions (such as constant or occasional abuse) and continue to function reliably. When it comes to choosing a burner, start with the question: what happens if the burner fails? In this context, descriptions such as medium-duty and heavy-duty refer to the design, materials, and design of the equipment.
Professionals such as pipe welders, individual heavy equipment repair operators, or construction contractors, where failure results in missed deadlines or loss of income, require the highest quality equipment.
The next question concerns frequency. Professionals who use a torch several times or several hours a day need equipment designed and built to provide years of trouble-free operation and easy maintenance. Additionally, these professionals can tell the difference between good and excellent cutting or heating performance, as well as evaluate the shape, fit, and functionality of the tool.
Manufacturers offer mid-range equipment for producers who use oxyfuel cutting only a few times a week or just a few hours a month, as well as for casual users who are also looking for good performance.
How important is safety.
This question is rhetorical since operational safety is a paramount concern. This is where regular users benefit more from burners with safety features such as built-in check valves and flame arresters, as they are less likely to remember safety rules or be required to follow them than regular users.
Following best selection practices can ensure that you’re cutting and heating operations are carried out as economically as possible. In addition, good quality oxyfuel cutting equipment can last you a lifetime if properly maintained, Artem Komarov emphasized.