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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

Capability Spotlight: Metal Laser Cutting Services

Capability Spotlight: Metal Laser Cutting Services

Posted by Weber Knapp on Mar 14, 2024 10:27:16 AM

metal laser cutting services

Editor's Note: This piece is an installment of an occasional series that looks at metalworking and fabrication services offered by Weber Knapp.

There's no one way to shape a piece of metal.

But whether you're creating an intricate component or a rugged piece meant for heavy-duty applications, precision matters.

In metal fabrication – specifically, cutting – there's arguably no more precise method than laser cutting.

Combined with advanced technology, laser cutting allows for incredibly exact and accurate cuts on a variety of metal materials.

In this article, we'll take a look at CNC metal laser cutting services, examining:

  • What is CNC metal laser cutting?
  • The metal fabrication method's benefits
  • Our CNC metal laser cutting capabilities
  • Metal laser cutting FAQs

CNC Metal Laser Cutting: Overview & 5 Benefits

What is CNC metal laser cutting?

As it sounds, it's a precision fabrication process that uses a high-powered laser beam, guided by computer numerical control (CNC), to cut and engrave various materials into specific shapes and designs. This technology allows for extreme accuracy and repeatability, making it ideal for both intricate designs and mass production. The laser's ability to focus on a very small area enables clean cuts with smooth edges, reducing the need for post-processing.

Among the variety of laser cutting machines available, CO2 lasers and fiber lasers stand out as two of the most popular and widely used technologies. Both types are typically used to cut metal.  However, CO2 lasers can be used for cutting non-metallic materials, while fiber lasers are typically faster and more cost-efficient. Your choice of either laser depends on the application.

CNC fiber laser cutting is versatile and capable of working with a wide range of materials. CNC laser cutting applications are often reserved for instances where there's next to no room for error, such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, and electronics.

What does this metal fabrication process' precision and accuracy add up to for your project? A few benefits that are hard to ignore when compared to other metal-cutting methods:

  1. The ability to cut reflective material
  2. Cuts with a spot size up to 100x smaller than a CO2 laser
  3. Extremely focused and flexible
  4. Cleaner edges and faster cutting speeds
  5. Easier to use for producing detailed cuttings

1. The Ability to Cut Reflective Material

One of the significant advantages of CNC fiber laser cutting services is their capability to cut through reflective materials without the drawbacks encountered in traditional cutting methods. Materials such as copper, brass, and aluminum are known for their reflective properties, which can pose challenges for other types of lasers, such as CO2 lasers, due to the risk of back reflections damaging the laser system. CNC laser cutting technologies, especially those using fiber lasers (like ours), are designed to handle these materials efficiently. The laser beam's wavelength is such that it is absorbed by the material rather than being reflected, allowing for a clean and precise cut without harming the equipment.

2. A Spot Size Up To 100x Smaller Than a CO2 Laser

Fiber CNC laser cutting machines can achieve a spot size that is up to 100x smaller than that of CO2 lasers. This incredibly small focus spot allows for extremely detailed and precise cuts, enabling intricate designs that were not possible with larger spot sizes. The smaller spot size also results in a higher concentration of energy, which can cut through materials more quickly and cleanly. 

3. Extremely Focused and Flexible

The extreme focus of CNC laser cutting machines offers flexibility in cutting shapes and designs. Complex cuts for complex shapes can be easily adjusted and replicated with high accuracy. The focused beam minimizes the heat-affected zone (HAZ) around the cut, reducing material distortion and allowing for the processing of very thin materials or intricate patterns without damage.

4. Cleaner Edges and Faster Cutting Speeds

Fiber CNC laser cutting produces cleaner edges and faster cutting speeds compared to traditional cutting methods. The laser's ability to concentrate energy into a small spot results in minimal kerf widths and smoother edges, reducing or eliminating the need for post-processing. Faster cutting speeds are achieved because the laser beam can move quickly across the material surface, cutting through in a single pass without the need for multiple passes or slower, more laborious processes. This efficiency not only improves production times but also enhances the overall finish of the cut pieces.

5. Easier to Use for Producing Detailed Cuttings

The integration of CNC technology with fiber laser cutting makes it much easier to produce detailed cuttings. With CNC laser cutting, designs can be programmed into the machine, enabling automated, precise, and repeatable cuts. This automation reduces the likelihood of human error and ensures consistent quality across multiple pieces. The technology is particularly beneficial for producing complex designs that would be difficult, time-consuming, and costly to achieve through manual processes.


CNC Laser Cutting Services at Weber Knapp

For us, metal laser cutting is an indispensable part of our production process. In fact, there's not a product line of ours that we don't use our own CNC metal laser cutting machines on – everything from our ergonomic products and Vectis Technology heavy-duty hinges to the drum smoker kits and accessories for our Smokin' Ugly line.

A Look at Our Metal Laser Cutting Machines

We have two 4kW CNC laser cutting machines, including a Prima LGf 4kW fiber laser. Our machinery is capable of producing highly complex shapes and is integral in supporting product development, prototype manufacture, and production jobs. We also have a Prima Laser Platino - CO2 laser CNC machine.

Our laser cutting machines are capable of cutting through a variety of materials:

Outsourcing CNC Metal Laser Cutting Services to Weber Knapp

Like our other industrial machining capabilities, our CNC metal laser cutting services are available for your project.

Before we put our lasers to work on your order, there are a few pieces of information we'll need to know:

  • Deadline: This goes for any outsourced project. Your schedule affects our schedule and our ability to meet it. There's a big difference in how we'll manage a project that's needed yesterday vs. one where there's a bit more leeway with a completion date.

  • What you're looking to have cut: There's a bit with this one, and the more information can give us during the planning stages, the better. This includes:
    • Precise designs or blueprints of the final piece that detail the dimensions, tolerances, and any critical specifications that the cutting process must adhere to.
    • The physical dimensions of the pieces to be cut, including their thickness, length, and width.
    • The type of material you wish to have cut significantly impacts the laser cutting process, as different materials – be it stainless steel, aluminum, or brass and plywood – react differently to laser energy.

      Again, the more information you can give us, the better!
  • Order size: Simply put – how many finished pieces do you need? A clear indication of the total number of pieces required allows us to offer more accurate pricing and identify any economies of scale that could benefit your project. If your order consists of multiple batches with varying designs or materials, providing a detailed breakdown helps us plan production runs more efficiently.

  • Post-processing: This can include finishes, bending, or welding. Even if we won't be completing this extra work, it's handy to know as it might impact what we're able to produce.

A few notes about our CNC laser cutting limitations:

  • Our maximum sheet size for laser cutting is 5'x10'
  • The metal thickness we can cut is typically no more than half an inch depending on the material


CNC Laser Cutting Service FAQs

Having worked with plenty of customers who used our CNC laser cutting services, there are a few FAQs we regularly get:

  1. Q. Can we work with formed parts?
    A. Yes!

  2. Q. Do we do laser engraving?
    A. Also, yes – from our own experience, that's how we've added the Smokin' Ugly logo to our products. Our laser engraving can also be used to etch in part numbers, pattern numbers, or indicators for surfaces that see additional machining.

  3. Q. Are our lasers capable of creating nano joints?
    A. Another yes!

  4. Q. If I have to change my design, how much of a setback is that?
    A. While making adjustments to a project does create delays, it's not as big a deal with laser cutting as it is with other processes. Yes, there are adjustments we'll need to make to accommodate your new design, but it's not as involved because it doesn't involve changing out tooling.

Not Seeing Your Question?

Or are you looking to get to work on your project with us? In any event, get in touch with a member of our team today!

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Topics: Manufacturing, Services, Laser Cutting