Laser Cutting Synopsis
Laser cutting is a process that uses unidirectional light and with the aid of computer numerical controlled (CNC) mirrors, directs the beam of light to the workpiece. A lens concentrates the energy of the laser and with the aid of an assist gas, burns or ablates the material.
With the right combinations, the cutting process yields a high-quality cut into the material that requires little to no post processing. Settings are a key component to the success of the operation and have a large impact on the quality of the cut itself, the efficiency of the operation, reliability of the machine and more importantly, personal safety.
- Our 150W laser specializes in non-metal cutting, and are capable of cutting materials of up to 2” foam, 1” acrylic and 3/4” plywood.
- Part Tolerances & Accuracy of: ±0.002 inches
- We regularly test the accuracy and precision of our laser to ensure a high-quality cutting service
- Maximum workspace area of 35.5” x 23.5” with pass thru access for parts up to 20’
- Maximum depth of 7” within bed area
- Maximum depth for pass thru access is 3”
Industries We Serve
- Architectural Firms: Topographical maps and structural models
- Graphics & Signs: Sign components, jigs, and fixtures.
- Automotive: Gaskets, spacers, and custom templates.
- Shipping & Product Packaging: Shadow foam packaging. Cardboard and corrugated board cutting.
- Textiles: Templates and end part production. Labels and embossing stamps.
- Aerospace: Non-critical parts and jigs.
- Manufacturing: Gaskets, assembly templates, and alignment jigs.
- Construction & Woodcraft: Alignment templates, interlocking wooden assemblies, and inlays.
- Other: We offer rapid prototyping and consulting services before you make large capital investments in die-cut tooling.
Laser Cutting and Alternatives
As a specialized profile cutting machine, a laser cutter does have overlap with other profile cutting machines. The most common of which include, water jet cutting, CNC routers, and CNC plasma cutting; all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Selecting the right tool for the production run has a direct impact on part cost; which generally includes post processing, but a higher quality part that is more consistent.
The laser cutting process often yields the highest quality cut finish, but may be limited on both material capabilities and material thickness. Other notable advantages include a smaller kerf, which yields sharper corners, and a lack of a physical cutting tool which ensures a higher part consistency with larger production runs. As a result, laser cutters are often the preferred tool of choice for precise, reliable cutting operations that require minimal post processing. Disadvantages generally include materials limitations caused by chemical reactions from ablating stable materials, or by overly reflective materials which may negatively impact the laser’s ability to ablate a material.
Water cutters are very specialized profile cutters that are designed to operate on harder materials that are not water permeable such as stone and metals. A large number of machines use an abrasive garnet which quickly erodes the material. Water cutting typically excels with the ability to maintain a quality cut finish on thick materials. Disadvantages vary based on the machine, howeve. Generally, the cutting abrasives may stain the parts; which may be unacceptable for some production runs. Quality of cut finishes, while good, may be insufficient for intricate assemblies without additional post processing.
Plasma cutting is another specialized process which yields a quality cut on most ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Plasma cutting yields a varied cut quality based on a large number of factors, but is generally acceptable to good on thinner metals, with some edge degradation on thicker materials. Disadvantages generally vary based on the machine, but generally may suffer from part quality on larger production runs which are subject to intense heat retained in the materials.
CNC routers are another alternative profile cutting tool which have the benefit of a range of specialized cutting tools and the addition of a 3rd axis. While the other cutting operations may have a 3rd or 4th axis available, it is generally atypical compared to CNC routers. Routers have a wide range of material capabilities and can yield a good finish quality. Limitations are generally to the cutting bits, which have a larger radius compared to the above operations, and material fixturing that must endure high side and vertical loads. The side and vertical loads generally limit material selections as the cutting tools must directly contact the material and the material must resist shear forces to produce a ‘chip,’ or a ‘partial cut.’
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