Who Will Need the Oxy-Fuel Welding and Cutting?
Oxy-fuel is the oldest of welding and cutting processes though it’s been less used in recent decades. In term of meaning, it’s a process to weld and cut metals using fuel and oxygen where the name derives from.
In the US, it’s better known as gas welding and cutting while in other parts of the world is also known as oxy-acetylene. Before the arc welding methods were found, many industries in the early 1900s used the oxy-fuel welding methods to process all metals, particularly for the commercial purpose.
Oxy-Fuel Cutting
Oxy-fuel cutting is a process to cut metals using a mixture of oxygen and fuel or gas. Fairly the same as the welding process, oxy-fuel cutting needs a torch to burn metal into a metal oxide that turns the kerf as slag. The process will need two isolated supplies, oxygen, as well as fuel/gas.
In the cutting process, metal is preheated to the certain temperature (for steel, it’s around 700°C - 900°C) without reaching its melting point. The process will cause a chemical reaction and form the slag or iron oxide. The slag then will be blown away by the oxygen jet, resulting the metal to be cut.
Oxy-Fuel Welding
Oxy-fuel welding is a process to weld types of metals, including carbon steel, alloy steels, cast iron, aluminum, and magnesium using pure oxygen and fuel/gas. In oxy-fuel welding, a torch is used to heat two pieces of metals in a temperature that produces a molten pool.
Oxygen and fuel—acetylene—are mixed together in a correct ratio and heated to a temperature of 3,200°C. There are three settings of flame used in the oxy-fuel welding process, including neutral, oxidizing, as well as carburizing.
The Equipment
The equipment of oxy-fuel welding and cutting is versatile, including torches, regulators, valves, and gas hoses. Here are the uses of each equipment:
  1. Torches are used for welding, cutting, heating, and depositing metals. There are several types of torches, including welding torch, cutting torch, rosebud torch, and injector torch.
  2. Regulators are used to making sure the gas pressure from the tanks matches the hose pressure. There are two stages of regulators; a fixed-pressure regulator as well as the adjustable regulator.
  3. Gas hoses are designed color-coded to make them easy to identify. In the US, the fuel hose is red while the oxygen hose is green. Meanwhile, in the UK and other parts of the world, the oxygen hose is blue and the fuel hose is red.
  4. Valves are installed between the regulator and hose and between the hose and torch. The main purpose of the installation is to prevent flame and explosion.
The Uses
In the term of its uses, oxy-fuel welding or widely known as oxy-acetylene welding is used for smaller home-based shops, metal-based artworks, and in the situation where electricity is unable to access. Moreover, it’s also used for welding pipes as well as tubes. Meanwhile, oxy-fuel cutting is still vastly used in heavy industry as well as light industrial and repair work, including the automotive industry.
Basically, the oxy-fuel welding and cutting process is mostly used due to its ability to reduce the thickness of metals. Moreover, the equipment is also inexpensive and can be used in both ways, manually as well as mechanized. In addition to it, some of fuel and nozzle design options are able to increase the cutting speed and the cut quality.