What is 3D profiling?

3D profiling of steel is a manufacturing process that involves the use of advanced technology to cut 3-dimensional forms on metal pipes, beams and other steel profiles. It involves the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as Tekla, to create a three-dimensional model of the desired steel component. This model is then fed into specialized cutting machines that uses high-powered plasma or oxy-fuel torches to precisely cut the steel into the desired shape.

2D profiling vs. 3D profiling

Within the steel cutting industry there is basically the devide between 2D- and 3D profiling. 2D profiling involves cutting steel profiles in two dimensions and is often used for cutting flat bars or plates. 3D profiling however allows for more complex shapes with tighter tolerances. This allows for more precise and accurate parts that are less likely to need further machining. Additionally, 3D profiling can create parts with a higher level of symmetry and consistency.

The key benefits of 3D profiling

3D profiling is a versatile manufacturing process that has a wide range of applications in the steel industry. It has a couple of key benefits:

  • Produce complex shapes with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability.

One of the key benefits of 3D profiling is its ability to produce complex shapes with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. This makes it an ideal manufacturing process for components that require precise dimensions and tolerances. Additionally, 3D profiling allows for the production of customized components, allowing designers to create unique shapes and designs that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods. Or as we at HGG say:

“We automate craftsmanship to give the world of steel the freedom to create.”

  • Reducing labor time in manufacturing

Another major advantage of 3D profiling is its efficiency. The use of CAD software and computer-controlled cutting machines allows for the rapid production of large quantities of identical components. This reduces the amount of time and labor required for manufacturing, resulting in lower production costs and faster turnaround times.

The different methods we use for 3D profiling

At HGG we specialize in two different methods of cutting steel being plasma cutting or oxyfuel cutting.

  • Plasma Cutting

Plasma steel cutting involves the use of a plasma torch to cut through metal. The plasma torch generates an electric arc that passes through a gas, usually compressed air, creating a plasma jet. This plasma jet is directed towards the metal to be cut and melts the metal, which is then blown away by the plasma gas. The plasma gas also cools the metal as it is being cut, preventing it from warping or distorting.

  • Oxyfuel Cutting

Oxy-fuel allows cutting of steeper angles up to 70° (as compared to 45° with plasma) because of the concentration of the oxygen beam. It also allows for a thicker wall thickness than with plasma cutting. A downside of oxyfuel cutting however is that it’s often a fair bit slower, especially when cutting thicker walled materials. It also requires the cutting torch to pre-heat the steel to the ignition temperature of around 960°C before the cutting can start.

Whichever method you use is depending on a lot of factors such as the steel type (stainless steel or carbon steel) being cut, the angle that it needs to be cut on, into what extend cutting is a factor and many other factors. We are always open to advice you on whatever option suits best to your situation.

The fabrication cycle with 3D profiling

  1. Design & Detailing

3D Profiling is performed by means of a CAD-CAM (computer-aided design & computer-aided manufacturing) connection and a CNC cutting machine. Extra welding specifications can also be included into the dimensions of the cut, such as shrinkage, groove angle and root opening.

  1. 3D profiling of your steel

Depending on the specifications the choice is made to cut either with a plasma or oxyfuel cutting torch mounted on a robotic arm of the CNC cutting machine. This profiling process also compensates for distortions in the material, such as curved beams or distorted pipes. The compensation is done by a combination of laser measurement systems and clever mechanical engineering.

  1. Fitting and Welding

Thanks to the weld preparation applied during the design & detailing stage, the parts are ready for optimized fitting and welding immediately after profiling. Parts fit easily and weld volume is greatly reduced, which results in significant savings in time and costs.

Watch the video on 3D profiling

Details matter. Different industries as well as different steel connections all demand different specificitions and welding requirements. Below are for examples of sections cut using 3D profiling.