Cutting with MAPP gas.

(1) Quality cuts with MAPP gas require a proper balance between preheat flame adjustment, oxygen pressure, coupling distance, torch angle, travel speed, plate quality, and tip size. Oxyfuel ratios to control flame condition are given in table 11-4.

(2) MAPP gas is similar to acetylene and other fuel gases in that it can be made to produce carburizing, neutral or oxidizing flames (table 11-4). The neutral flame is the adjust most likely to be used for flame cutting. After lighting the torch, slowly increase the preheat oxygen until the initial yellow flame becomes blue, with some yellow feathers remaining on the end of the preheat cones. This is a slightly carburizing flame. A slight twist of the oxygen valve will cause the feathers to disappear. The preheat cones will be dark blue in color and will be sharply defined. This is a neutral flame adjustment and will remain so, even with a small additional amount of preheat oxygen. Another slight twist of the oxygen valve will cause the flame to suddenly change color from a dark blue to a lighter blue color. An increase in sound also will be noted, and the preheat cones will become longer. This is an oxidizing flame. Oxidizing flames are easier to look at because of their lower radiance. (3) MAPP gas preheat flame cones are at least one and one-half times longer than acetylene preheat cones when produced by the same basic style of tip. (4) The situation is reversed for natural gas burners, or for torches with a two-piece tip. MAPP gas flame cones are much shorter than the preheat flame on a natural gas two-piece tip.

(5) Neutral flame adjustments are used most cutting. Carburizing and oxidizing flames also are used in special applications. For example, carburizing flame adjustments are used in stack cutting, or where a very square top edge is desired. The “slightly carburizing” flare is used to stack cut light material because slag formation is minimized. If a strongly oxidizing flame is used, enough slag may be produced in the kerf to weld the plates together. Slag-welded plates often cannot be separated after the cut is completed.

(6) A “moderately oxidizing” flame is used for fast starts when cutting or piercing. It produces a slightly hotter flame temperature, and higher burning velocity than a neutral flame. An oxidizing flame commonly is used with a “high-low” device. The large “high” oxidizing flame is used to obtain a fast start. As soon as the cut has started, the operator drops to the “low” position and continues the cut with a neutral flame.

(7) “Very oxidizing” flames should not be used for fast starting. An overly oxidizing flame will actually increase starting time. The extra oxygen flow does not contribute to combustion, but only cools the flame and oxidizes the steel surface.

(8) The oxygen pressure at the torch, not at some remotely located regulator, should be used. Put a low volume, soft flame on the tip. Then turn on the cutting oxygen and vary the pressure to find the best looking stinger (visible oxygen cutting stream).

(a) Low pressures give very short stingers, 20 to 30 in. (50.8 to 76.2 cm) long. Low-pressure stingers will break up at the end. As pressure is increased, the stinger will suddenly become coherent and long. This is the correct cutting oxygen pressure for the given tip. The long stinger will remain over a fairly wide pressure range. But as oxygen pressures are increased, the stinger returns to the short, broken form it had under low pressure.   (b) If too high an oxygen pressure is used, concavity often will show on the cut surface. Too high an oxygen pressure also can cause notching of the cut surface. The high velocity oxygen stream blows the metal and slag out of the kerf so fast that the cut is continuously being started. If too low a pressure is used, the operation cannot run at an adequate speed. Excessive drag and slag formation results, and a wide kerf often is produced at the bottom of the cut. (9) Cutting oxygen, as well as travel speed, also affects the tendency of slag to stick to the bottom of a cut. This tendency increases as the amount of metallic iron in the slag increases. Two factors cause high iron content in slag: too high a cutting oxygen pressure results in an oxygen velocity through the kerf high enough to blow out molten iron before the metal gets oxidized; and too high a cutting speed results in insufficient time to thoroughly oxidize the molten iron, with the same result as high oxygen pressure.   (10) The coupling distance is the distance between the end of the flame cones and the workpiece. Flame lengths vary with different fuels, and different flame adjusts. Therefore, the distance between the end of the preheat cones and the workpiece is the preferred measure (fig. 11-19). When cutting ordinary plate thicknesses up to 2 to 3 in. (5.08 to 7.62 cm) with MAPP gas, keep the end of the preheat cones abut 1/16 to 1/8 in. (0.16 to 0.32 cm) off the surface of the work. When piercing, or for very fast starts, let the preheat cones impinge on the surface. This will give faster preheating. As plate thicknesses increase above 6 in. (15.24 cm), increase the coupling distance to get more heating from the secondary flame cone. The secondary MAPP gas flame will preheat the thick plate far ahead of the cut. When material 12 in. (30.48 cm) thick or more is cut, use a coupling distance of 3/4 to 11/4 in. (1.91 to 3.18 cm) long.

(11) Torch angle (a) Torch, or lead angle, is the acute angle between the axis of the torch and the workpiece surface when the torch is pointed in the direction of the cut (fig. 11-20). When cutting light-gauge steel (up to 1/4 in. (0.64 cm) thick) a 40 to 50 degree torch angle allows much faster cutting speeds than if the torch were mounted perpendicular to the plate. On plate up to 1/2 in. (1.27 cm) thick, travel speed can be increased with a torch lead angle, but the angle is larger, about 60 to 70 degrees. Little benefit is obtained from cutting plate over 1/2 in. (1.27 cm) thick with an acute lead-angle. Plate over this thickness should be cut with the torch perpendicular to the workpiece surface.

(b) An angled torch cuts faster on thinner-gauge material. The intersection of the kerf and the surface presents a knife edge which is easily ignited. Once the plate is burning, the cut is readily carried through to the other side of the work. When cutting heavy plate, the torch should be perpendicular to the workpiece surface and parallel to the starting edge of the work. This avoids problems of non-drop cuts, incomplete cutting on the opposite side of the thicker plate, gouging cuts in the center of the kerf and similar problems.   (12) There is a best cutting speed for each job. On plate up to about 2 in. (5.08 cm) thick, a high quality cut will be obtained when there is a steady “purring” sound from the torch and the spark stream under the plate has a 15 degree lead angle. This is the angle made by the sparks coming out of the bottom of the cut in the same direction as the torch is traveling. If the sparks go straight down, or even backwards, it means travel speed is too high.   (13) Cut quality. (a) Variations in cut quality can result from different workpiece surface conditions or plate compositions. For example, rusty or oily plates require more preheat, or slower travel speeds than clean plates. Most variations from the ideal condition of a clean, flat, low-carbon steel plate tend to slow down the cutting action.(b) One method to use for very rusty plate is to set as big a preheat flame as possible on the torch, then run the flame back and forth over the line to be cut. The extra preheat passes do several things. They spall off much of the scale that would otherwise interfere with the cutting action; and the passes put extra preheat into the plate which usually is beneficial in obtaining improved cut quality and speed.(c) When working with high strength low alloy plates such as ASTM A-242 steel, or full alloy plates such as ASTM A-514, cut a little bit slower. Also use a low oxygen pressure because these steels are more sensitive to notching than ordinary carbon steels.

(d) Clad carbon-alloy, carbon-stainless, or low-carbon-high-carbon plates require a lower oxygen pressure, and perhaps a lower travel speed than straight low-carbon steel. Ensure the low carbon-steel side is on the same side as the torch. The alloyed or higher carbon cladding will not burn as readily as the carbon steel. By putting the cladding on the bottom, and the carbon steel on the top, a cutting action similar to powder cutting results. The low-carbon steel on top burns readily and forms slag. As the iron-bearing slag passes through the high-carbon or high-alloy cladding, it dilutes the cladding material. The torch, in essence, still burns a lower carbon steel. If the clad or high-carbon steel is on the top surface, the torch is required to cut a material that is not readily oxidizable, and forms refractory slags that can stop the cutting action.

(14) Tip size and style.

(a) Any steel section has a corresponding tip size that gives the most economical operation for a particular fuel. Any fuel will burn in any tip, of course. But the fuel will not burn efficiently, and may even overheat and melt the tip, or cause problems in the cut. For example, MAPP gas will not operate at peak efficiency in most acetylene tips because the preheat orifices are not large enough for MAPP. If MAPP gas is used with a natural-gas tip, there will be a tendency to overheat the tip. The tips also will be susceptible to flash back. A natural-gas tip can be used with MAPP gas, in an emergency, by removing the skirt. Similarly, an acetylene tip can be used if inefficient burning can be tolerated for a short run. (b) The reasons for engineering different tips for different fuel gases are complex. But the object is to engineer the tip to match the burning velocity, port velocity, and other relationships for each type of gas and orifice size, and to obtain the optimum flame shape and heat transfer properties for each type of fuel. Correct cutting tips cost so little that the cost of conversion is minute compared with the cost savings resulting from efficient fuel use, improved cut quality, and increased travel speed.