Of course, plasma cutting is only one variety of system which CNC machines may be designed to work with. Another common variety is the CNC waterjet cutter. Waterjets can use either a mixture of pressurized water and abrasive, or purely water. One benefit to a waterjet cutter is that there’s no HAZ, or heat-affected zone, which can alter a material.
Another cutting method utilizing CNC machines is oxy-fuel, using fuel gases and oxygen, which dates back about 100 years. Here, a stream of oxygen is blasted onto a metal heated to kindling temperature, turning it into a flowing metal oxide.
With CNC plasma cutting machines, a plasma torch blows an inert gas at high speeds out of a nozzle, through an electrical arc, which turns some of that gas to plasma.
While all of these options remain widely used today, CNC plasma cutting machines are typically seen as a solution for manufacturers who are concerned with quickly and efficiently cutting conductive materials up to 3″ thick. The CNC plasma cutting process has superior cutting speeds, piercing speeds, and generates very precise cut qualities. More speed and higher quality also produces superior efficiency and productivity.