In the current hi-tech sheet metal fabrication industry, there are several ways to produce sheet metal parts. Oxy-fuel cutting, saw cutting and water jetting are some of the common methods that manufacturing companies use to convert sheet metals into components and parts needed for respective products. Nevertheless, there's one metal cutting method that boasts of a unique set of benefits-laser cutting. This article explains how laser cutting works and why manufacturing businesses should invest in laser cutting machines for their metal cutting needs.

Laser cutting

This is a technology that applies the use of a laser to cut metal materials. The high-power laser output is directed by a computer at the metal material. Consequently, the metal material either burns, melts, or vaporizes creating fine surface finish.

So why invest in laser cutting?

Minimal part damage

All laser cut ends and curves are normally smooth, precise and clean. Given that the laser melts instead of physically cutting the metal, there's very little or no damage to the material. With the absence of any burring, striation or distortion, secondary finishing procedures including polishing or grinding are significantly reduced or done away with. As a result, there's less material wastage

High precision and repeatability  

Given that laser cutting is computer-controlled, there's an extremely high level of precision and repeatability. The formulas keyed in the computer program means each component is identically fabricated resulting in minimal defects if any. It can make amazingly small cuts at very tight tolerances. Unlike human labour, CNC controlled laser cutting can effectively work round the clock during the same monotonous process.  Generally, the higher accuracy you desire, the slower the laser machine will move. That is the trade-off. This is a key consideration where tolerances are important and large quantities of exact finished parts are required.

Cost savings

Similar to other manufacturing practices, the cost of laser cutting technology depends on the labour operation as well as machine costs. Given that laser cutting is computer-controlled, labour expenses are significantly reduced in comparison to hand-operated machinery. A metal fabrication shop will maximize on raw materials because there's less material wastage due to precise cuts. Furthermore, batches of materials are grouped together and fabricated identically which saves on production time. When combined with the exclusion of secondary finishing procedures like grinding and polishing, all these efficiencies mean that laser cutting is relatively low cost compared to other metal cutting methods including hand cutting techniques or water jet.