Cost-effective cutting using power fiber lasers

Laser cutting is generally a costly and time consuming process that is outsourced to specialist job shops. This article will show some of the advantages of medium power fiber lasers, the biggest of which being how much more affordable it is.

Outsourcing laser cutting jobs

Across many industries companies are outsourcing laser cutting jobs to specialist job shops that do nothing other than process high volume, high quality metal cutting orders. These companies, on any given day, can accept  almost limitless combinations of job types combining metal types and thickness of the metals and most obviously the type of cut required in that piece. Because of these factors, the machines that perform the actual laser cutting procedure have to be extremely flexible while also being fairly robust to handle the volume of orders a shop may get. This has caused the cost of some laser cutting machines to skyrocket and manufacturers battle and compete over who can claim faster or thicker cutting data for their machines. Some machines have exceeded 500 thousand dollars in cost.

Affordable Laser Cutting

What if a company wishes to keep all their metal cutting needs in house and not have to outsource to a specialist job shop? What type of quality would they be able to accomplish with their metal cutting on cheaper smaller machines?

Repeatability

A key feature of the fiber laser over other laser sources is the high energy density when the beam is focused to spot sizes in the range 30-100μm. This enables not only compressed air cutting of steels but also cutting of reflective materials such as brass, aluminium, and copper.

This same feature allows these lasers to cut extremely intricate shapes of highly precise parts. This however places a requirement on the machine builder design the motion system to a repetitive position accuracy of +/-0.025mm. Components such as motors, encoders, drive systems, and gearbox must be specified accordingly.

Considerations

The first thing that company would need to consider is what type of cuts they need to accomplish. What thickness is the metal that they will mainly be cutting. The vast majoriy of cutting jobs needed by most companies are in a thickness between 1-3mm thick.

If a company needs fall within that range then there are a lot of options out for for much cheaper and affordable fiber laser cutting machines that can deliver similar quality to much bigger and expensive machines that specialist job shops may own.

Return on Investment

On paper it may seem as though buying a smaller machine is not actually much more beneficial than buying a larger one, but if you consider that many smaller cutting machines can use a beam source offering 90% better than C02 sources and opening up the possibility of compressed air cutting the investment decision becomes a no brainer.

Deciding what laser cutting machine is right for you can be difficult but hopefully this article has helped you come to a final decision that will help drive more profits within your company.