Laser Cutting: Understanding its Advantages and Disadvantages
Nowadays laser cutting is one of the most popular ways to cut many types of materials. It is used in many industries, and used to fabricate different types of items.
As you can probably guess, the reason why laser cutting is so popular is because it has numerous advantages over other alternatives. However you should know that it has disadvantages too – and you need to understand both to fully appreciate its strengths and limitations.
Advantages of Laser Cutting
To be perfectly honest there are many advantages of using a laser cut service, but the most important are:
Compared to other methods of cutting, laser cutting offers a lot more precision. It has an accuracy of +/- 0.1mm, allowing it to reproduce almost exact replicas with great consistency.
In most cases, laser cutting is a lot faster than other methods of cutting. Its speed is also superior for more complex types of cuts.
Suitable for different materials
Laser cutting can be used to cut many different types of materials. The materials that it can cut include most metals, wood, acrylic, plastic, paper, and so on.
The quality of materials cut using a laser is generally better than with other methods. Most of the time no further processing is required, and there will probably only be a small burr left behind with no risk of material damage or deformation.
Because laser cutting is contactless, there is no wear on the tools that are used. Not only will this mean that the tools don’t need to be replaced every so often, but it will also save time in the long run and ensure the quality is consistent.
The fact that laser cutting is automated and controlled using computer programs means that less work is required. Assuming a feeding system and follow up conveyer is used, the entire process can even be completely automatic.
It should be noted that aside from these advantages, laser cutting machines are also more versatile than the tools used for other methods. Typically the same machine can be used to not only cut materials but also engrave or etch.
Disadvantages of Laser Cutting
Although laser cutting does have a lot of upsides, it has several drawbacks and limitations as well. The most notable are:
High energy consumption
The energy required to operate a laser cutting machine varies depending on how strong the laser needs to be – and that is affected by the type and thickness of the material. In most cases the energy consumption is high.
Unfortunately laser cutting is not great when it comes to cutting thick materials – especially metal. Cutting thicker materials with lasers can drastically reduce its speed.
An experienced and skilled operator is required in order to fully utilize a laser cutter. Having one can make a world of difference to the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of laser cutting.
The price of laser cutting machines can be fairly expensive, especially when compared against other cutting tools. In theory the efficiency of the machines make it worthwhile in the long term, but the initial investment is still large.
Although laser cutting can cut various types of materials, some may emit toxic fumes. The fumes can be dangerous, and will require a good ventilation system to be installed.
By this point you should have a good handle on both the benefits as well as limitations of laser cutting. Make no mistake it is definitely one of the best methods to cut materials, as long as you use it in the right situations.