Many factors are involved in choosing a particular method or technology for cutting tube and pipe. The basic factors that affect the cut are the tube and pipe material, wall thickness, squareness of ends, end-conditioning requirements, and secondary process requirements.Other factors that play a role include productionvolume,cutting efficiency, overhead costs, and special requirements of the the tube and pipe material.
Abrasive sawing is a basic, manual method of cutting-to-length product to the customer's specification in any alloy. An abrasive saw operates with a circular abrasive blade or resin-composition wheel—either wet or dry—that grinds through the product.
Cut size capabilities depend on the machine. Some abrasive cutting machines can handle a solid round up to 4 in. outside diameter (OD). This general-purpose method is useful for hand-loading applications and small product runs that do not require critical end conditions.
While abrasive sawing is inexpensive and quick, it produces significant kerf and a heavy burr that might have to be removed by deburring.
Band Saw Cutting
Band saw cutting is a fully automatic process and the most common method for cutting rod, bar, pipe, and tubing. This process is excellent for large-volume cutting. Some band saws can handle large product bundles.
The blade is a continuous band of metal, available in various tooth configurations, that rotates on two wheels. Depending on the model's design, the blade's approach to the metal may be horizontal or vertical. Each configuration has advantages for particular products or applications.
Despite the high capital cost, a laser cutting system provides a range of capabilities and associated advantages. Easily controlled with automation equipment (CNC), a laser allows an operator to cut, deburr, inspect, and even pack material while the laser runs continuously.Lasers, which concentrate a tremendous amount of heat energy into an extremely small area, produce narrow kerf widths, tight tolerances, and minimal HAZs. They cut with little distortion to the workpiece and can cut harder materials, including stainless steel alloys, nickel alloys, and titanium. However, the inside of the tube must be coated with antispatter fluid.
A laser is best as a contouring tool. It can be programmed for a variety of special requirements, such as making small holes (with diameters smaller than the material thickness), etching part numbers, and cutting difficult-to-reach areas.