Not so long ago, the only way to cut metal or other materials was with a saw or scissors. Some metals are too hard to cut, or they are so dense that using a saw is hazardous to the operator and they end up with edges that are ragged or imprecise cuts. That could lead to additional steps being necessary when working with metal or other saw-cut material.
Laser cutting technology has revolutionized many industrial processes and industries. Thanks to its introduction, it is now easier to cut materials and far less dangerous for those who work in manufacturing. As a much more precise way to cut thick or dense material, laser cutting has numerous advantages. It has expedited many industrial processes and has all but eliminated the need for outdated engineering machinery, which helps companies cut costs and increase productivity. Replacing plasma cutting, laser cutting is a much more precise and energy efficient method of cutting materials, from aluminum to steel, with very little effort.
The old way: plasma cutting
Plasma cutting used to be cutting-edge technology. It used heated plasma to cut through materials. It could cut any “electrically conductive material” like aluminum, copper, brass, steel and stainless steel, as well as other conductive metals. Typically used in automotive repair, restoration, fabrication shops, scrapping and salvage plants and industrial construction, it revolutionized the way that industries sawed through material.
The plasma cutter works with high precision and speed and costs very little, which is why before it was the standard method in use before the laser cutting table came along. Born out of the sophistication of plasma welding first used in the 60s, it was a viable way to make “mass production” more efficient and cost-effective.
The advantages of laser cutting
Although they are a huge investment, laser cutting tables have many advantages over other types of cutting tables:
- Laser cutting is the newest technology that is safer not just for the material being cut, but also for the operator. When compared to plasma cutting, the laser doesn’t put as much force on the material, which means that there isn’t as much bouncing around and it makes it easier to hold the piece in place. That results in more precise measurements and cleaner cutting capacity.
- Laser cutting is also an extremely quick and highly accurate way to cut materials, meaning that you can increase your productivity by achieving the same number of cuts in a shorter period.
- Since laser cutting involves only the designated piece to be in contact with the laser directly, there are fewer risks of metal contamination. Unlike other cutting processes, it is a cleaner atmosphere, and other materials aren’t likely to be introduced. Also, since there is no heat involved — like with plasma cutting — laser cutting reduces the chances that the materials will experience any deformations through the heating process.
- The amount of energy needed to use a laser cutter is a fraction of traditional cutting methods like blades, saws or scissors. It is also much less than plasma cutting, which makes it a better tool for large quantity cuts.
- While plasma cutting is limited to objects that are “electrically conductive,” a laser cutter can work on a wide variety of materials including ceramics, rubber, plastic and wood. Not just for metal, it is a better overall cutting machine to encompass various components.
- In addition to cutting, laser cutters can take things apart or to put simple structures back together into one piece. Their ability to make simple burns can adhere structures into one coherent material.
- Laser cutting is guided by the use of computer programs, so there is less risk of error. It runs almost entirely without assistance, which all but eliminates the likelihood of costly operator errors.
- Also, since it runs almost entirely on its own, there are very few risks for employees and operators to hurt themselves. The only time that humans are needed is to inspect or make repairs. That takes human involvement and risk out of the entire cutting process.
Laser cutting machines are a huge investment for any business or industry to make. But in the end, the advantages gained by incorporating it into your manufacturing process are enormous, and they far outweigh the cost of the initial investment.