Plasma is typically limited to two inches thick of carbon steel. Anything thicker than that is probably recommended to be cut on an Oxy-Fuel machine, as it will cut faster and produce a cleaner, nicer edge for anything over two inches thick. Plasma cutters can only cut metal, because it has to be conductive to allow electricity to go through the metal. You can’t cut plastic, stone, marble, granite. In addition, plasma is often the cutting tool of choice for aluminum and stainless steel but does struggle when you’re cutting reflective materials like brass or bronze. Waterjet, on the other hand, can literally cut anything. The only material it struggles with is tempered glass because of its propensity to shatter.
The motion of AKS machines are all very accurate (+/- .003”). We use a very precise rack and pinion, gear drive, and ball screw. But even if you have a machine that can move very accurately, you have a cutting process or tool that operates as non-contact cutting. You don’t have a hard tool like a saw or router that touches the material you’re cutting. Therefore, the accuracy of the cut itself is difficult to define. If you have all new consumables in the machine, you can hold +/- .003-.005” on the part. But generally plasma isn’t run on a brand new machine or consumables, so most customers have part accuracy on plasma cutters at +/- .010-.015”. Using a waterjet machine, it’s much more accurate, usually +/- .005-.010”. Oxy-Fuel typically achieves part accuracy of +/- .060”.
Many customers choose to purchase a separate air compressor for the machine if they do not already have adequate compressed air onsite. Plasma machines may require a blower fan, exhaust, or smoke collection unit. Your sales representative will be able to recommend appropriate attachments for your specific machine.