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Modern cutting methods allow manufacturers to improve the accuracy of their metal and plastic products. As a result, better and more precise quality parts are produced without compromising productivity. These accurate cutting methods also achieve increased efficiency and reduced production costs.

Laser and plasma cutting are two of today’s most popular cutting methods, offering distinct advantages and disadvantages for different industries. This article provides a detailed comparison of plasma cutting vs. laser cutting and their value in today’s manufacturing industries.

Differences Between Plasma Cutting vs. Laser Cutting

Both plasma and laser cutting are advantageous and feature unique applications for various manufacturing needs. Let’s look into their differences in a few aspects:

Cutting Thickness

The thickness of the metal sheet is crucial in determining the efficiency of the cutting process compared to other methods. For laser cutting, the maximum thickness for cutting metals ranges from 20 mm to 25 mm for mild steel. However, thicker sheets may require high-powered CO2 lasers to achieve efficient and precise cuts.

On the contrary, plasma cutting is ideal when dealing with thicker cutting requirements. Specifically, handheld plasma cutters offer excellent capabilities for cutting through steel plates up to 38 mm thick. For even more robust cutting needs, powerful automated machines can effectively cut through materials as thick as 150 mm.


Laser cutting is an accurate, reliable, and notably faster technique compared to others, particularly when intricate cuts are required. Nonetheless, plasma cutters excel at generating high temperatures, allowing them to swiftly slice through materials. Their speed surpasses oxy or waterjet cutting, making plasma cutting a preferred choice for efficient metal fabrication.


Laser cutting is renowned for its exceptional precision. It enables dimensional accuracy, with tolerances as tight as less than 0.005”. Moreover, it allows for narrow cut widths, reaching as thin as less than 0.003”. This results in clean and precise cuts for intricate designs.

Plasma cutters excel at delivering clean cuts in steel sheets, offering a tolerance of approximately +/- 0.01” to 0.03”. However, as the material thickness increases, the precision of the cut may slightly decrease due to the plasma’s attempt to melt through a larger volume of material. This can lead to minimal slag formation.

Plasma Cutting Advantages

The plasma cutter is one of the most specialized and widely used equipments for quick and easy cutting. It is a versatile device that offers the following advantages:


Different kinds of metal can be cut with plasma. Likewise, any conductive metal — including steel, iron, copper, brass, aluminum, stainless steel, and other hard materials — can be cut using an electric arc. Plasma may also cut objects stacked on top of one another.

Portability and Ease of Use

Plasma cutters’ portability and ease of use make them highly practical and convenient tools for various applications. Due to their compact design and lightweight nature, plasma cutters can also be easily transported to different job sites.


Plasma cutting is a cost-effective process with faster cutting speeds and minimal waste. This translates to lower consumer costs, making it more economical than other cutting techniques.

Precision Cuts

Plasma cutters excel in achieving precise and accurate cuts, particularly when working with sheet metal and intricate shapes. However, it does require skilled operators with steady hands to ensure optimal results.

Laser Cutting Advantages

Laser cutting is one of the go-to manufacturing technologies of today. It offers the same benefits as plasma cutting, including versatility, ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and precision cuts. Aside from that, it also provides the following advantages:


When using a laser cutter, switching out equipment between cuts is unnecessary. Several forms can be cut out of the same material thickness with the same configurations, including intricate cuts.

Tight Tolerances

One of the main benefits of laser cutting over other thermal cutting techniques is accuracy. With a +/-0.1 mm accuracy, great precision can be attained without post-treatment. Such a high quality typically negates the need for different tolerances.


Laser cutting can be highly automated, minimizing the need for manual labor. While an experienced operator contributes to the final product’s quality, the speed and efficiency of laser-cutting automation result in cost savings.

Exceptional Laser Cutting Solutions From Metal Works of High Point

Metal Works of High Point is committed to helping clients reduce manufacturing costs without compromising quality. Our metal laser cutting services increase fabrication process efficiency and lower production costs.

With 3-axis laser cutting systems and experienced professionals on our team, we can handle all your custom laser cutting requirements. Additionally, our system is capable of 24-hour metal-cutting operations for guaranteed efficiency.

Contact us for more information on our metal laser cutting services.

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