Faster speeds and cleaner cuts; think those are the only benefits that come with the use of laser cutting technology? Think again. In fact, when it comes to using a laser to cut tube this is merely a starting point.
Tube laser technology has become increasingly prevalent for manufacturers to cut tubing, channel or structural shapes to length while adding holes or complex cutout designs at the same time. But a closer look shows that the technology can also introduce a multitude of ways to streamline your business, optimize capacity and set your products apart from the competition. So, what is the advantage of a laser cutting machine?
Hold tight: Let’s start with the ability to hold very tight tolerances. While cutting tubing, channel or structural shapes to length, laser-cutting machines can also add holes or complex cutout designs while holding very tight tolerances. This is vital for effectively handling complicated shapes and complex designs—all without sacrificing strength for weight.
Fewer parts on hold: The use of tube lasers can help reduce the storage of semi-finished parts. The ability to process parts quickly with minimal set-up time, means less inventory. And with the ability to produce parts in one continuous step, can cut down on the number of times material is handled across the supply chain or even reduce the number of steps in the manufacturing process overall.
Make it custom. A tube laser will allow you to custom design products based on the capabilities of the machine. For example, some of the latest machines have pivoting cutting heads with the ability to cut at angles. This opens up a range of new options when it comes to part design. Perhaps you are looking to decrease the overall weight of a product or simply improve the aesthetics; leveraging the design capabilities of tube laser technology can provide a true competitive advantage.
This prompts the next question: How do we choose a laser cutting machine?
This becomes a question of whether you should purchase a machine or outsource to a partner. Ultimately, you must balance the benefits achieved with the costs associated of owning a tube laser. If your company doesn’t handle the volume of work to justify the investment of having an in-house tube laser machine, outsourcing the process is another option.
With tube lasers gaining popularity, it can become difficult to determine which partner is best. Consider the following factors:
1. Material. It may sound simple but ensuring the availability of material is step number one. This means having a full-line service center that stocks all products that would be used on the tube laser. This eliminates extra effort locating a supplier that can cut a range of different types of alloys. Some companies even combine a tube mill and tube laser in a single facility further streamlining the process.
2. Expertise. Having access to process experts who can assess how your parts are currently being produced, in conjunction with the application or end use, can help identify improvements.
3. Reach. Ensure the logistical network is in place to help get your finished product to you where and when you need it.
4. Capacity. Plain and simple, make sure the company has the capacity to get you your product in a timely manner.
Want to know more about the fundamentals of tube laser cutting and what to expect when working with a partner on the process? Check out the interactive graphic below--click on the numbered buttons for additional information on each step in the process!