Over the years, the welding industry has made giant strides in technology, efficiency, and cost. One of the best outcomes of this innovative era is oxyfuel cutting. Oxyfuel cutting has made metal fabrication compact and easy to carry along to various working fields. It also offers the operator more flexibility in changing the cutting direction during operation—when you use an oxyfuel cutting torch, you only need to move the torch and not the metal surface. It's also a plus that this setup costs way less than other cutting machine tools like plasma cutters and the like.
The oxyfuel process reaches over 3000 degrees celsius by combusting a pure oxygen source and the most commonly used fuel gas, oxyacetylene. This is the only gas mixture hot enough to melt and cut through steel. Other fuels like propane, LPG, or hydrogen can be used for metals with lower melting points like non-ferrous metals, for brazing and silver soldering, and as a preheating gas source for cutting. Although more recent technology like plasma and laser technology has been much discussed and developed, oxyacetylene is still the prevailing cutting method worldwide. An oxyacetylene cutting torch is easy to use, and its cost won't break the bank.
For an oxyacetylene cutting torch to effectively melt through metal, several factors must be considered: from the gas tank, the regulator, the torch, all the way to the cutting tip.
The cutting tip is where most of the action lies, which we will be discussing extensively in this article. Cutting tips are usually attached to the torch handle. They are equipped with a mixer that combines the acetylene fuel with pure oxygen, comparable to how an automobile carburetor in a car mixes gas and air. Unfortunately, the correct size and uniformity of cutting tips can be a source of confusion for some operators.
Victor's cutting torch kits have made a name for themselves in the metal fabrication industry. Their company has a reputation for delivering durable and practical torch kits ideal for shops looking for a budget-friendly way to cut metals of all shapes and sizes, and the same goes for their cutting torch tips.
Although their equipment has topnotch quality and is built ready-to-go, you must always ensure that a safe flow and mixture are established within your cutting torch. This will make all the difference in your cutting torch safety, longevity, and effectiveness. Whether you work with acetylene, or other gases like propane, propylene, etc., the size and quality of your cutting tip are two of the most vital components in your setup.
Seat type varies depending on the brand. As a rule, you should be familiar with the manufacturer, model, or part number of the torch cutting tips you want to replace, as these can determine the correct seat type. This step is crucial as a mismatched seat type can lead to equipment damage or flammable gas leakage.
It is essential to note the thickness of the metal being cut since the center hole of the cutting tip is accurately sized to dispense the proper amount of oxygen at the correct pressure for a specific metal thickness. The preheat orifice is also explicitly designed to handle the right amount of oxygen and fuel mixture to heat a given metal surface appropriately. Most oxyfuel equipment can melt-cutting mild steel from 3 to 300 mm.
The length, shape, and size of a cutting tip vary according to the application or procedure performed. There are various types of tips made explicitly for cutting, gouging, or heating. It could be one piece of solid copper or a two-piece hybrid with a brass inner piece and a copper external piece. Some tips are specially tailored for automated machinery to facilitate high-pressure cutting suitable for high-volume metal fabrication—enabling faster, cleaner, and more precise cutting.
4. Match the tip with the fuel
While acetylene is highly favored for its ability to reach higher temperatures, several alternative fuels are available to mix with pure oxygen. Cutting tips may vary according to the type of fuel gas they dispense, and it would be hazardous to interchange cutting tips for different fuel mixes.
Here are the common types of fuel that may be used with specially-designed tips:
Acetylene is considered to be the hottest, most-versatile gas for torch cutting and is used in a variety of procedures. Pre-heat takes a relatively short time for cutting and gouging since the flame's temperature can reach between 5600 to 5800 degrees Fahrenheit. Acetylene can cost quite a lot and rack up expenses quite quickly for large-scale metal works.
Propylene is considered much safer and more cost-effective than acetylene, and thus many welders are switching to this alternative. Propylene gas prolongs the lifespan of cutting torch tips since the tip-to-work distance is widened, so the tip is somewhat protected from the high temperatures or after-effects from the work surface. Also, propylene does not produce soot due to the gas chemistry and is a cleaner-burning fuel.
Propane is the most cost-effective of the bunch and can muster flame temperatures between 4500 and 4600 Fahrenheit. Propane is the most efficient for heating due to its high BTU output and the large, heavy-heating Victor propane cutting torch tips available.
Several things can go wrong when you're not careful about matching the right tip to the suitable torch. Backfires, overheating, and poor cuts resulting from the insufficient flow of fuel or gas can place operators in danger. The cone must have the right concentration of heat to cut effectively, which depends on the fuel and cutting tip combination. An acetylene tip must not be confused for a propane cutting tip, for example.
The chart below is a Victor cutting torch tip chart where you can select the correct Victor cutting torch tip sizes. As you can see, the cutting tip may vary according to the cutting orifice and the material thickness.
A cutting torch tip must always match the correct cutting torch to maintain an efficient flow and combustion of fuel and oxygen. It may seem like a small detail, but to avoid problems with your oxyfuel torch, its parts must be compatible with each other. It is always best to stick to a name brand like Victor to ensure that your cutting tips are of stellar quality and durability.