Within the world of steel, one of the most well-known and well-used buzz-terms is that of steel coil processing. This involves transforming steel into new shapes and sizes that make it easier to handle ahead of further processing needs, and some of the most common such practices involve various cutting formats.
At Wasatch Steel, we’re happy to provide a number of steel services to clients who may require them, including things like punching, bending and shearing, among others. When it comes to the cutting realm for steel coil processing, two of the most well-known processes here are cut-to-length and cut-to-width formats. What are the differences here, what are the pros and cons of each, and what are some of the steel products and applications that benefit most from these processes? Here’s a simple primer.
Before we dig into the specifics of cut-to-length vs. cut-to-width, it’s important to understand a little bit more about why cutting is often required as part of steel coil processing services in the first place. Coils come in long, slender strips that can be quite unwieldy for certain applications and needs. For this reason, cutting them down into shorter, more manageable lengths is often a necessary step in preparing steel coils for further processing or eventual use.
Now, it’s important to note that not all cutting processes are the same. Different applications and needs will sometimes demand different types of cuts, which is where cut-to-length and cut-to-width come into play.
As its name suggests, cut-to-length (CTL) processing simply involves cutting steel coils down to more manageable lengths as part of steel coil processing. This can be done via a number of different methods and machines, but the general idea is always the same – to create shorter, more workable pieces of steel that can then be used for various applications.
One of the main benefits of CTL processing is that it’s relatively quick and easy to do. This makes it a great option for those who need their steel coils cut down in a hurry, as there’s typically no need for further shaping or sizing once the cutting process is complete. Additionally, CTL cuts are generally very consistent and accurate, which is important for applications that demand precise measurements.
On the downside, CTL processing is generally only suitable for straight cuts. This means that any steel coils that need to be cut into more complex shapes or sizes – such as curves or angles – will likely need to go through a different type of cutting process. Additionally, CTL cuts are generally made at right angles, so keep that in mind if your application requires something different.
Cut-to-width (CTW) processing is another common type of steel cutting, and it’s one that’s sometimes confused with CTL processing. CTW cuts are similar to CTL cuts in that they’re used to create shorter, more manageable pieces of steel coil – but the main difference is in how they’re made.
With CTW processing, steel coils are first cut down to a specific width that’s required for the application at hand. Once the desired width has been achieved, the resulting steel strip is then cut to length as needed. This two-step process is what sets CTW apart from CTL, and it’s also why CTW cuts are sometimes referred to as “resawing” or “sequential cutting.”
Like CTL processing, CTW processing is generally quick and easy, and it results in very consistent and accurate cuts. However, the main advantage of CTW over CTL is that it’s much more versatile. This is because CTW cuts can be made at any angle, not just right angles – meaning that more complex shapes and sizes are possible. Additionally, CTW cuts don’t have to be straight – they can be curved or otherwise customized as needed.
The main downside of CTW processing is that it generally takes a bit longer than CTL processing. This is due to the fact that it’s a two-step process, with the initial width cut often taking the most time. Additionally, CTW processing requires more specialized equipment than CTL, which can sometimes make it more expensive.
As you can see, both CTL and CTW processing have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. So, which type of cut is right for your application?
Well, that depends on a few different factors. First, consider the type of steel you’re working with. If it’s a particularly hard or thick material, CTL might be the better option as it generally requires less power and produces fewer sparks. However, if you need a more precise or customized cut, CTW is likely to be your best bet.
You’ll also need to think about the end application. If you’re cutting steel for something like construction or manufacturing, CTL is often the way to go as it’s typically the faster and more cost-effective option. However, if you’re cutting steel for something like artwork or jewelry, CTW is usually the better choice as it allows for more intricate cuts.
Finally, consider your budget. CTL processing is generally less expensive than CTW, so if cost is a major concern, it’s probably your best bet.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the right type of steel cutting for your application. However, by taking the time to weigh your options carefully, you can be sure to choose the best possible option for your needs.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our steel products or services, speak to the team at Wasatch Steel today.