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I am currently cutting 3/8" and 1/2" stainless steel 316 tubing 0.035" wall thickness with a Ridgid manual tubing cutter. The cutter has been reliable for 200+ cuts, has no bur, and takes approximately 60 seconds per cut when working quickly. I only need square 90 degree cuts, so for low volume this has been working well.

I also got a Milwaukee M12 Cordless Copper Tubing Cutter. Knowing that it was designed for much softer copper tubing, it has done surprisingly well. It is showing some wear and cut quality issues at 50+ cuts. It takes about 20 seconds per cut and it only works for 1/2" tubing.

I am now needing to increase tube cutting capacity for the product line. I have a hot saw, but it will undoubtedly create lots of burs. I have considered a fine tooth carbide blade in a bandsaw, but very thin wall tubing is hard on bandsaw blade teeth. Cutting the tubes in stacks may help distribute the tooth load but would probably still have lots of chatter. Over all it probably would require less active labor the but cutting process would be slow. Anyone have experience with this?

I am also considering a tungsten carbide tipped 1450 RPM 14" 66 teeth metal chop saw. I might have to add a hydraulic damper to control the decent rate through the material. Also would probably 3d print a custom jaw attachment to better hold the tubing from rotating and reduce clamp marring.

Thoughts? Other ideas?

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I would recommend a plasma cutter and a fixture that rotates the workpiece as the cut occurs. When cutting thin stainless (like a metal sink for example) the plasma cutter produces a completely smooth, glassy edge with no burrs and no need for finish sanding.

You might also try abrasive machining, where a jet of compressed air propels fine abrasive grit at the cut kerf. This works extremely well for materials that do not work-harden.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had considered a laser, but pretty high price and requires a constant velocity rotating apparatus like you mentioned. Plasma would be cheaper but probably also more slag. Also unsure how bad the slag would stick to the inside surface and how far it would travel down the tube. Have you seen anyone using this technique for thin wall stainless? $\endgroup$
    – ericnutsch
    May 23, 2023 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ plasma cutting is slag-free. the burnt metal that is blown out of the plasma flame is fine dust, which does not adhere to the workpiece. I have cut stainless steel sinks with a plasma cutter. It is as effortless as pushing a hot knife into a cube of room-temperature butter. . $\endgroup$ May 23, 2023 at 4:04

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