How Laser Cutting Can Improve Your Final Product

Manufacturing a product that requires parts made from steel or other metals requires some precision to ensure that the parts you are making fit correctly. Often the components may be pieces that are cut from sheet steel or an alloy, and making sure that each one is the same can be critical to the final fit and finish of your product.

CNC Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is not a new technology, but the ways it is being used are improving the quality and efficiency of it all the time. CNC (computer numeric control) laser cutters can cut through steel or other materials with exacting precision because of the guidance the CNC system offers. The same cuts can be made time and time again with this machine and will be the same every time unless there is a breakdown in the equipment. 

An engineer or programmer will write a program for the CNC machine that dictates every move the machine makes, and that program is then uploaded to the CNC laser cutter. If you have several laser cutting machines, you can use the same program for them and have several machines making the exact same part with the same precision across all of them. If it is critical that the parts hold a tight tolerance for the parts but they are flat or nearly flat items, cutting them out with a laser can be the best solution.

Material Options

Steel is probably the most common material to cut with a laser, but steel is not the only material that works. Many alloys and other materials can be cut if correct adjustments are made to the laser before cutting begins. 

Steel, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass, and many different alloys all stand up to laser cutting. The thickness of each material can affect the ability to cut it, and the wattage of the laser can also come into play. Most laser cutting operations limit steel to 3.5 to 4 inches thick for laser cutting, at which point the laser has to start making multiple passes and the efficiency of the laser drops off because of the added time involved. 

Softer metals can sometimes be thicker and still be cut successfully, so check with the laser manufacturer if you are setting up laser cutting machines in your facility. The manufacturer can help you determine the maximum thicknesses of the materials that you can cut in one pass and the settings for the laser on your material, and they can work with your engineer or programmer to develop the right cutting programs for your machine and your product.

To learn more, contact a resource like J&E Metal Fabricators Inc.