Laser Cutting – 5 Reasons to Switch

Many owners of manufacturing spaces are considering adding laser cutting machinery to their facilities. However, they aren’t sure of the important pros and cons to consider for this still relatively recent technology. Expanding to include newer technology can potentially be daunting, and making a well-informed decision is always vital for any business that is considering purchasing potentially expensive new equipment.

Fortunately, this is our area of expertise. This article will introduce you to some of the most common and vital benefits of adding laser cutting to your manufacturing. If it’s made of metal, we can build it, and with thirty years of manufacturing under our belts, we’re here to share some of our expertise and help you to decide if laser cutting is right for you and your business!

What is Laser Cutting?

Before we get too much further, let’s look at some of the fundamental definitions and facts behind laser cutting. 

Laser cutting refers to the subtractive manufacturing process that employs a focused laser beam to cut flat-sheet materials, with the laser itself guided by a computer program that the manufacturer uses to dictate where and how the laser will be focused to cut or etch.

There are several kinds of lasers used in this process, but generally, the equipment used will fall into two categories: C02 lasers and fiber lasers. While both kinds of lasers are used for broadly the same kind of cutting and etching work, they differ in their delivery method. C02 lasers use a combination of C02 gas and a series of mirrors to aim the laser where it’s needed, whereas fiber lasers use (as the name implies) a fiber-optic cable to achieve the same goal. 

Both kinds of machinery have their uses - C02 lasers are better suited to organic materials like leather, wood, or textiles and are less suited for cutting metals. In contrast, fiber lasers are much better and more efficient at cutting materials like sheet metal, copper, or brass. While both kinds of lasers have their uses, this article will mostly focus on fiber lasering since advances in recent years have made it the cheaper and more efficient method in many ways. 

Why Switch to Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting offers a variety of advantages that make it an attractive option for a wide range of manufacturers. While it may not be appropriate for every job or industry, it is a highly versatile and popular form of modern manufacturing. If you are considering adding laser cutting capabilities to your facility, read on to learn some of the key benefits!

#1

Precision and Accuracy

As one might imagine, lasers are a highly precise and accurate method for cutting and etching! This accuracy comes from the fact that the pattern the laser is designed to cut is predetermined by the computer program that guides the machinery of the laser. This kind of manufacturing is known as Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) manufacturing (as you may be aware, if you already employ technologies like 3D printing), and the program used to dictate the cutting allows for extreme precision with even very complex and detailed patterns. 

In addition to the overall high fidelity to original design patterns, the nature laser cutting offers other side benefits towards precision - lasering metal automatically provides a finish to a product, whereas products made with more traditional machining will require an extra finishing step. Additionally, since lasering applies less heat than traditional machinery, there is a lower chance of material becoming burned or misshapen, and material is less likely to become contaminated or accidentally marked since there’s no direct physical contact between the laser cutter and the product.

#2

Lower Cost of Maintenance and Use

While the initial investment in purchasing and setting up lasers tends to be higher than other manufacturing options, the costs for running and maintaining a laser tend to be lower in comparison.

Unlike machining, lasers can do various kinds of work without requiring the owner to purchase and swap out different custom-designed tooling, which saves on both equipment costs and lead time between different operations. Consider chemical etching, for example, which requires a relationship with chemical, acid, and wastewater treatment contractors or suppliers, as well as generating unique physical stencils for each design, which will have to be replaced after a certain number of uses.

#3

The versatility of Use and Materials

Lasers also offer a variety of functions and operations depending on the configurations in their settings. A single machine is capable of cutting, marking, etching, and engraving depending on how its computer software is set up, and all without the need for specialized fittings or physical attachments that might be required for machining. 

In addition to having a range of uses and applications, lasers can work with a wider variety of materials than many traditional manufacturing methods. From etching ID numbers into parts used in the automotive and aerospace industries to creating home decor and household products to cutting through wood, plastics, plexiglass, and more, lasers can be useful for working with essentially any material out there!

#4

Less Waste Products Produced

Similar to point number two, laser cutting tends to produce less waste compared to other manufacturing methods - indeed, lasers don’t produce any kind of waste at all and don’t require any kind of consumable other than electricity. Lasers also produce less noise “pollution” in the sense that they are much, much quieter compared to machinery, improving quality of life around the production floor!

#5

Laser Cutting is Safe!

Even though industrial lasers make use of high-powered beams capable of causing significant damage to skin or eyes, they have been designated “low-risk” due to the fact that they are fully enclosed. As long as users don’t manipulate or interfere with safety features or intentionally expose themselves to the beam, laser cutters are generally extremely safe technology to work with. Certainly, lasers are a much safer option when compared to techniques like acid etching or machining, methods which can easily cause burns, injuries or prove toxic to workers.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits to adopting laser cutting as a primary method for manufacturing products! Lasers are quieter, safer, and more efficient than most of the older forms of manufacturing and can often be used in a wider variety of materials and situations! 

At Engineered Mechanical Systems, we know manufacturing. If you’re interested in learning about other exciting opportunities and new technologies, don’t miss your chance to subscribe to our newsletter to stay abreast of all the most relevant news and information in the industry.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter