Are you considering laser cutting for your next project?

First, confirm with the three T’s to cutting metal that laser is the best option for your project. Next, consider these five questions.

1. What is a laser cutting machine?

Laser cutting machines have been around since the early 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the technology truly took hold in manufacturing. Today, thanks to technology advancements over the years, it has become one of the most widely used methods for cutting metal.

The process of laser cutting metal works by directing the output of a high-power laser. The material that is placed onto the laser-cutting machine is directed using laser optics and CNC (computer numerical control) technology.

Typical laser-cutting machines in manufacturing use CO². The power of the machine is measured in wattage, with the intensity of the laser measured by dividing power by the distribution area of the material. For example, cutting thicker metals requires a higher intensity laser than cutting sheet or plate.

2. What metal can be laser cut?

Laser-cutting machines will cut carbon, stainless, aluminum and red metals, in round, square, rectangular and irregular shapes.

The emergence of tube laser machines has created an efficient method for cutting tubing, channel or structural shapes to length while adding holes or complex cutout designs at the same time.

3. What are the benefits of laser cutting?

Today, laser-cutting technology has advanced to the point that parts can be produced from one continuous piece of raw material and cut to exact specifications with tight tolerances to help avoid secondary machining operations. Laser-cutting machines can facilitate smaller lot sizes and combine multiple operations into a single step.

Technology advancements to laser-cutting machines throughout the years have improved the speed and quality in cut edge, ultimately resulting in reduced cost on consumables for the customer.

4. What should be considered before selecting laser cutting?

One question that you should be asking with regards to any metal-cutting technology is whether your project necessitates the ability to hold very tight tolerances. Oftentimes, tolerances specified on projects are tighter than necessary. In some instances, the option of plasma cutting or oxy-fuel cutting with a looser tolerance can be less expensive than laser cutting with tight tolerance.

5. Beyond the cut, what is one unique advantage to using laser-cutting machines?

Laser-cutting technology can introduce a multitude of ways to streamline your business, optimize capacity, and set your products apart from the competition. One example is to redesign your part around the capabilities of the tube laser machine.

Based on the capabilities of the tube cutting laser, you can look into design enhancements that improve aesthetics or increase functionality that perhaps you had not considered previously. Consider this use case as one example. What essentially adds seconds or minutes to the set-up of a machining process could trim hours off your final process. In the end, you are designing around the idea of tight tolerances and the advanced processing that is necessary to reduce cost.

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