There are quite a few advantages to laser cutting machine vs other processes. (I do feasibility studies for potential clients and full time for a laser cutting machine builder, so I’ll try to explain without sounding biased) Typically, the alternative for a laser cutting process is a blanking press or a turret punch. A blanking press has a special cutting tool for each shape. A turret punch has a number of small tools and punches out a part by cutting a limited number of whole sizes and some line shaped blades for the outer edges. A laser cutting machine traces the outline of a part with the laser melting the metal, and an assist gas blasting the molten metal out of the cut.
Some advantages of a laser cutting machine:
- Lower power consumption: a typical blanking press or turret punch consumes 50kW of power in total. A 4kW laser system uses 10kW of power total typically.
- Safety: A blanking press has a large blade that moves rapidly up and down, and doesn’t necessarily have safety features to prevent a hand getting caught in it. A fiber laser is required to be enclosed by a light tight box which means they are designed to run without human intervention during cutting.
- Material Scrap savings: Due to a cutting tool requiring material on either side of the cut, a border of at least 1/2 inch is required. For a laser, if parts share a common outline, they may be cut with a single cut, with no scrap. A minimal scrap skeleton may also be cut, as small as 1/16 of an inch or even less for some materials.
- Cutting properties: a blanking die can only cut materials up to a maximum tensile strength. A laser can cut any strength of material, as long as the material can be melted.
- Low maintenance: A blanking press or turret punch has expensive tools that must be sharpened and stored regularly as different parts are cut. A laser can change parts by changing programs, and requires relatively inexpensive replacement parts like lenses and nozzles.
Hopefully this serves to highlight the advantages of a laser cutting machine, in an industrial setting.