Laser Cutting Metal Fabrication Services Mon, 12 Nov 2018 21:03:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Tips to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs Fri, 09 Nov 2018 17:50:33 +0000 Laser cut parts are useful to many sectors, and the precisely cut two-dimensional pieces function as machinery parts in industries from industrial baking to the medical field. However, many companies are unaware that their laser cutting costs, despite the production, could be significantly reduced by simple, alternate choices and communication with their laser cutting provider.…

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reduce laser cutting costs

Laser cut parts are useful to many sectors, and the precisely cut two-dimensional pieces function as machinery parts in industries from industrial baking to the medical field. However, many companies are unaware that their laser cutting costs, despite the production, could be significantly reduced by simple, alternate choices and communication with their laser cutting provider.

Laser cutting is a powerful method of piercing material with a laser beam to melt or destroy the material in a precise line for a clean finish. Many companies, small businesses, and industrial organizations choose laser cutting because it produces barely perceptible edge effects from the cutting, unlike many other methods.

With a tolerance of +/- 0.005 of an inch, laser cutting production fits particular specifications and accurately delivers a piece’s details the first time. Time is an essential factor in laser cutting, but the overall turnaround of the operation is rapid. Versatility in size and metal material is another benefit of laser cutting machinery, although these do have differences in price.

Properly preparing your company’s design files, material choices and course can reduce the price of this incredible technology. Several components in laser cutting, like time, make the production more speedy and effective. Check out our top tips to diminish your laser cutting costs.

Is There a Difference Between Fiber Lasers and CO2 Lasers?

difference between fiber and co2 lasers

The two main types of lasers that penetrate metal to produce exceptional machinery parts are fiber lasers and CO2 lasers. CO2 have the advantage of superior edge quality and reduced burr on aluminum plate. Fiber lasers are the rising innovation in the laser industry. The fiber laser beam is especially beneficial in metal cutting due to its non-reflective beam. It cuts more quickly than its alternative, which you will come to find is directly related to the expense of these projects. If your laser cutting company’s machinery uses fiber lasers, then it is likely be able to cut the greatest variety of metals.

1. Outsource Laser Cutting to the Experts

When a project requires a precise cut that only laser cutting can accomplish, a do-it-yourself direction may be the first impulse. However, on-site laser cutting involves expensive investments in equipment, thorough training and inconvenient maintenance. Rather than mastering laser cutting and facing these obstacles, lift the burden of these complications by outsourcing to experienced companies.

The equipment is substantial in size and cost. Purchasing laser cutting machinery, depending on the size and nature of your company, will likely not be reused enough to cover the costs. Necessary on-site space is infringed on, and employee training also halts the production process. Using a specialized outside team to perform the work saves space, time and money.

The machinery also demands regular upkeep, which raises costs even higher. Safety for your work space and the condition of the products require this maintenance, but the drawbacks of further expense, repairs and effort point to another solution — outsourcing. Enlisting the help of workers skilled in this area will expedite your project and reduce the cost. They are familiar with the best practices in laser cutting, already knowledgeable about this task and able to maintain the equipment elsewhere.

2. Create a Prototype

For those new to laser cutting and submitting designs for the first time under this process, it may be difficult to imagine what the end product will look like. Before even placing a small order to examine the design, a simpler and more cost-effective option is available. Construct a prototype of your design digitally, on paper or with a sturdier disposable material. The appearance of your design will be easier to tweak or simplify once there is a mock-up involved.

Ordering the full quantity of a laser cut product without refining the desired outcome produces regret and drains the company bank account when you have to place another order. Print the design from a computer onto paper with the correct measurements and spacing between the two-dimensional shapes to examine the problematic points that might cost you more money in production. Even digital models can be useful because you can use the capabilities of design software to alter small-scale issues.

Performing this preliminary test from the office increases confidence in the result and reduces any costs working out kinks that are caught early. This cost-effective preparation is wise, but it is simply one step closer to the high-quality outcome of laser cutting technology.

3. Maximize Cutting Time With Deliberate Details

Efficiently using laser cutting time and limiting the cutting path to only the effective working option rather than any invalid paths will conserve money and resources. Perforation choices and the design parameters alter the cutting time. Specific details, without extraneous lines, curves or overlap will conserve funds. Each cutting pattern takes a different amount of time to accomplish, but several basic functions can be exchanged for similar cuts to distribute production time where it is most needed.

The longer the lines in your design are, the longer they take to make, which becomes more expensive. Check out these line differences to revitalize your design for a more cost-effective production process.

  • An influx of lines will take extensive time to complete. Maybe your design will function well without the presence of such detail. Can you remove certain lines and retain the appearance?
  • Lines and sharp angles take less time to cut than rounded edges. Are circular lines unavoidable with this product?
  • Shorter lines save time and money. Longer lines require more time to cut. Can your longer lines be transformed into shorter ones while keeping your design intact? Or are they essential to the design?

A common mistake is to double cut lines or fail to combine edges that are close together. If a line overlays another in the design file, the laser will double marked the area. The extra cut counts as an additional line and further time and costs in the process. Reviewing your digital prototype and the design file prevents the overcut lines in the product. Most design software contains shortcuts for removing overlap by combining shapes and lines into a single object without designating a separate path for each line.

4. Consider Sheet Metal Type and Thickness

metal thickness

A variety of metals can be cut, including mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. The thickness of the metal you select can alter the edge quality of the cuts, but most importantly the thickness of the metal determines how quickly the beam can cut. Each of these metals has an optimal cutting thickness that displays the most stable and untainted cut possible with minimal warping or variation.

If you select a thicker, more dense metal, then the time your laser cutting company spends on your design will increase. If that metal is necessary for your project, a thick metal paired with a simple design may balance out the cost. You must prioritize the factors that are most important to your company and the productivity of your task in many cases. Balance the thickness of the metal with the other aspects and the goal of your project.

The materials take up a large amount of the cost to buyers compared to the previously mentioned tips. Consider which metal functions best for your purposes and keep in mind its place in the cost calculation.

5. Place a Small Order at First

Once you have settled on a simplified design and have an idea for the material, a small trial run of the exact supplies and design can reduce extra expenses before placing a substantial order. If certain aspects of the design cause you to hesitate or you would like to test out multiple metals, small orders will present the possibilities of several kinds of metal and the accurate implementation of your design.

Any complications that arise in a small trial order will cost less than purchasing several big sheets of metal and realizing your specifications should have been different. A small order of unfamiliar metal will hold less risk than relying on a full initial order. Once you are sure this metal is the fit for your intentions, the complete order can follow the small order.

Beginning with a limited order will allow you to witness the difference the kerf makes on your product, depending on the kind of metal used. Fiber laser systems expertly handle metals, like stainless steel, aluminum, and others. Your expectations should not go without testing, though. Consider how you would like the end pieces to function and appear — then compare the first round of products from your small order with the necessary components.

6. Optimize Space by Grouping and Nesting

Laser cutting carves lines on sheet metal that are often spread out, with similar design elements and edges. However, eliminating empty segments in the design file dramatically diminishes the cost, in a similar way to avoiding double cut lines.

Reduce waste and scrap metal by increasing the usable portions of the sheet of metal. Filling the whole sheet of metal with the desired product is the ideal outcome. Wasting minuscule scrapings and debris is an inevitability most of the time, but more substantial portions of scrap metal can become more profitable pieces for your company. Grouping and nesting are two variations of this principle.

Grouping the pieces just clusters them for efficient laser work. In general, the less distance the laser head must travel to make the next cut and the less scrap metal produced will keep more money in your pocket. This method is a simple way to create more space on the sheet of metal, and it accommodates circular cuts more easily than nesting does. Rounded lines, while expensive, may be necessary for your project. Positioning the shapes as close to one another as possible will still save you money.

Nesting is a more specific technique to reduce waste. This method rearranges the pieces to be cut so that they share common edges and create little excess space for optimal shapes. When complementary lines are placed together, the edge of two different shapes becomes one affordable slice. Nesting is another reason why you should consider finding the straightest lines for your desired products because exact lines and angles are more likely to coincide for a common edge.

Nesting is a complex ordering process that will require experienced help. Contact an expert to receive assistance and tips on how to condense your product elements into a smooth journey for the laser head.

7. Limit Laser Head Lifts

laser head lifts

In conjunction with optimizing space in grouping and nesting, the laser head lifts can be changed in tilting the positions of nearby pieces. The laser head lifts to avoid damaging the new cut piece and aims to steer clear of any collision. However, in most cases, this is unnecessary and consumes time. The laser head, with tweaked specifications, could perform more productively by spinning around pieces or shapes in the design file to line up the cutting path.

If the project can work seamlessly without any lifting from the laser head, then significant time is conserved and more pieces can be produced in the allotted time span. The laser head should still avoid the completed cut, but with reorganized pieces, this should be doable and prevent wasted movements.

Other paths can also be changed in production, such as laser drilling paths. Cutting holes with the laser technology depends on the strategy and the thickness of the metal, and the pulse mode puncture method takes the most time and, of course, costs the most. Quick puncturing is extremely fast but sustains rougher edges. Communicate these preferences to your third-party laser cutting company if your project requires unique path changes, like drilling or hole placements. Collaborate with an engineer to find the best method for your vendor.

Final Cost Cutting Tips

Cutting down on production time and increasing intentionality in design files will reduce the cost of your custom-cut pieces. Adjusting the orientation of your design if multiple pieces are manufactured will also diminish wasted metal and extra time. Build confidence through preliminary tests of your design to place your order knowing it will be the right material with clean edges. Overall, your project should be finished sooner than ever before at a lower price after you apply these pieces of advice.

Use Laserfab for Your Laser-Cutting

laserfab for laser cutting

Laserfab offers high-quality service, precise laser cutting, and a rapid turnaround. With our expert laser cutting and fabricating professionals and advanced technology, we efficiently produce custom parts that your industry needs. We do not use direct-drive pumps, and we continually invest in the latest technology. Laserfab will help you select the best fabrication method to form your pieces.

Our equipment includes a variety of fiber laser machines that are sure to complete cost-effective and timely project specifications. The laser cutters include dependable software to properly achieve your particular wishes. Laserfab also stocks 22 gauge through 1″ in steel, stainless and aluminum, and offers copper, brass, and bronze sheets for laser cutting.

Laserfab is experienced in laser cutting for several commercial industries, including architecture, agriculture, industrial rack, medicine, manufacturing, industrial baking, chemical mixing, nuclear, power and wireless communication. We service a wide range of industries, but our company also fits into a manufacturer’s supply chain operations.

Request a free quote today for your laser cutting needs. Local delivery is available.

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Guide to Choosing a Manufacturing Partner Thu, 18 Oct 2018 14:21:50 +0000 Deciding on the right partnership is essentially like choosing a proper friendship. The advantages of a healthy collaboration between your brand and contract manufacturers can help you both succeed in business objectives such as developing a new product, ensuring quality and staying within regulatory compliance. Maintaining a robust supply chain allows for maximum competitive advantage…

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choose manufacturer partner

Deciding on the right partnership is essentially like choosing a proper friendship. The advantages of a healthy collaboration between your brand and contract manufacturers can help you both succeed in business objectives such as developing a new product, ensuring quality and staying within regulatory compliance. Maintaining a robust supply chain allows for maximum competitive advantage and transparency compared to other businesses that might try to handle every step of their operation in-house.

A partnership in business is a strategic collaboration between two or more companies that work beside one another to accomplish a common goal. The ideal partnership results in an alliance that can grow a business quickly and successfully with efficiency.

Benefits of a Manufacturing Partner

Manufacturing parts and products are no easy tasks. Their creation often requires many different processes happening at once. While all of this is going on, the big picture can get lost in translation amongst the many employees at different stations working hard to get the job done. Inaccuracies throughout the manufacturing process that do not align with the company’s vision can make your product lose its competitive advantage.

These worries are why many companies choose to work with a manufacturing partner that specializes in cutting and fabrication. They focus on each step of your product’s creation to ensure it is made to your specific expectations.

Why in particular should you consider working with a solutions-focused cutting and fabrication shop? There are numerous advantages:

  1. First-rate parts and products: Specialists in the craft of cutting and fabrication understand how to prioritize tasks from the design stage straight through to completion. They can be more precise with requirements than attempting to create in-house.
  2. Reduced stress: Coming up with a comprehensive manufacturing plan takes time. Your company likely has many operations going on at once, and allocating time properly is valuable for success. If you do not need to worry about overseeing every facet of the manufacturing process to ensure the proper specifications, you can relieve a lot of hassle out of your day. Since quality manufacturing partners handle all aspects of the process, you will never be unsure of the status of your project.
  3. Reduced production time: Tight deadlines can be met much more easily with a manufacturing partner. A partner can ensure lead-times that will beat out the competition. A manufacturing partner’s premium in-house equipment and professionals provide maximum efficiency and allow for a smooth process from start to finish. To keep up with demand, use the rush services some manufacturing partners offer. The rush service will likely cost extra, but it will expedite the entire process and have your order ready in as little as a day.

benefits of choosing manufacturer partner

Reasons to Hire a Partner in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has evolved. Relationships between brand owners and their manufacturing partners have grown to the point where the term “partnership” is no longer just a word used for marketing purposes. This vocabulary is used more literally and is a more accurate reflection between what happens between brands and contract manufacturers.

In the past, companies would switch business partners to whoever had the lowest cost. It was a transactional relationship. Now, brands truly partner with one manufacturer, cultivate a genuine relationship and understand the indirect costs and implications that switching manufacturers can have.

If your company is beginning to struggle with keeping up with the ever-evolving customer expectations and sales environments, a strategic way to combat this fatigue is to start to broaden your horizons and develop strong business relationships.

The Manufacturing Process

What services can a manufacturing partner assist with? Laserfab works with clients to take care of every step of the manufacturing process, which includes:

  1. Design: A finished piece can only be as good as the design it has derived from. Some may wish to have their part designed entirely from scratch, while others may have a concept that needs some input and modifications. Skilled design engineers can lay out a new idea, or help clarify these design concepts and make improvements where necessary. Working with a professional strengthens the product for a lower cost.
  2. Prototyping: Creating exceptional prototypes allows manufacturing teams to work out any issues to ensure precision before they hit the ground running in future steps of the manufacturing process. Getting the prototype right provides cost effectiveness and maximum efficiency.
  3. Cutting: Extremely specialized cutting equipment allows manufacturing partners to maintain precision no matter how complicated the part may be.
  4. Forming and fabrication: Most projects require processes such as bending, welding, punching and many other types of building and fabrication. A common problem many companies face when trying to manufacture parts themselves is that they aren’t equipped appropriately for these kinds of jobs. Experienced teams of professionals can ensure any forming and fabrication process can be achieved to make a vision a reality.
  5. Assembly: Assembling products in the same place they were manufactured keeps everything together without having to bounce around to different facilities.
  6. Delivery: Companies such as Laserfab also offer to ship almost anywhere and make sure parts get to their destinations quickly using inexpensive but reliable methods. Whether the piece is coming to you or directly to your customer, Laserfab can accommodate no matter the situation.

Instead of haphazardly getting processes done in whatever time your company can spare, our team of specialists communicates closely with your company to produce a quality result in any project. Project managers oversee the entire operation to make sure nothing is overlooked from start to finish.

Industries and Advantage of Outsourcing Manufacturing Partners

Often, industries require premium metal, plastic and tin enclosures that their equipment may fall short of achieving. These types of specialized enclosures are usually used by industries such as:

  • Architectural
  • Industrial
  • Medical
  • Baking
  • Chemical Mixing
  • Nuclear
  • Power

You might find a handful of companies that claim they have the tools to create such containers. Laserfab differentiates themselves from the competition by finishing jobs more precisely and to the exact specifications set forth by clients and only making adjustments when communication is clear. Some more particular aspects that set Laserfab apart from the rest include:

  • USA-based manufacturing plant: Laserfab’s headquarters is in Lebanon, Pa., and all of our products come solely from the United States. The centralized location means the orders we receive are processed and reach completion and delivery as fast as possible.

In summary, hiring a preferred partner in manufacturing such as Laserfab provides benefits such as unlimited customization options, a high level of support, immediate order processing, and acceptance of all orders regardless of size.

Choosing a Manufacturing Partner

Some cutting and fabrication shops may throw around the term “full service” pretty carelessly. Ensure you do external research and choose a company that provides all the manufacturing services you need. Consider what your specific goals are when choosing a manufacturing partner. While many manufacturers claim to be able to do many different projects, they often specialize in just a few.

guide manufacturing partner

Are you looking for a partner that specializes in laser cutting services? Laser cutting is a material modification process that can provide better quality products compared to more traditional methods, which maximizes the benefits of laser cutting. Laserfab specializes in this strategy and backs up their powerful cutting centers with an experienced staff.

Communication and Cultural Differences

Ensuring your manufacturing partner is easy to communicate with one of the most critical aspects. There is no doubt that this industry involves complex operational functions no matter the particular project. Whether your job includes laser cutting, waterjet cutting, metal fabrication or some combination of methods, being sure that your manufacturer communicates and has a clear flow of information is essential for planning, engineering and upholding pristine quality throughout the work.

Unclear objectives can lead to a catastrophic failure. To keep the project intact and to your highest standards, make sure you choose a partner that resonates with you and has a similar voice.

Cultural difference plays into communication as well. Many different regions play by different rules and may use methods that your company is uncomfortable with. They also may not fully understand the particular regulations required by the United States market.

For example, Chinese businesses do not generally do some quick research and embark in a partnership with any company that appears to fit their needs on paper. Western companies focus on business and are more likely to jump into an immediate working relationship. Chinese companies, on the other hand, they emphasize solid personal relationships and are reluctant to work with someone they do not know well or trust fully.

If you call a manufacturer in China and discuss business, something that is normal and expected in the United States, there’s a chance you will not get any further. They take this type of directness as impolite and uneducated about their culture. We all operate amongst our own culture’s frame of reference. While they are doing the same thing by dismissing your requests just because you act differently, they likely do not need you as much as you need them. China houses almost 50 percent of the world’s manufacturing companies.

If you believe that working with a company overseas is the right decision for your operations, be sure to do research and understand everyone’s expectations out of a business relationship in that respective country.

What to Look for in a Contract Manufacturing Partner

what to look for

Working with a contract manufacturing partner no doubt has its advantages. But, it can also be a risk as you are opening up your operation to people you may not trust as much as your employees. Knowing what to look for in a contract manufacturer is tricky, but a few aspects are the most important to look into:

  1. A well-established network of high caliber subcontractors: Consider an in-person visit with the business to gauge their integrity and reliability. If a trip to meet is too lengthy or impractical, consider contacting a client who has already worked with the company to see if they will vouch for their reputation. If you cannot find anyone who has engaged with the manufacturer before, that is a red flag in itself.
  2. Advanced logistics capabilities: Getting the right price and getting the shipment on time are essential for business success. The last thing you want is to contact a manufacturer and have that decision result in more headaches through logistical and transportation issues. A good rule of thumb is to check out local manufacturers and work your way further out in the distance rather than immediately going for a cheap international contract manufacturing partner.
  3. Established business with plentiful resources: The company you choose to handle your manufacturing needs should have all the equipment and materials to create a high-quality product from design to delivery. They should possess experts on each step of the process who can overcome any unexpected issues or challenges. Be sure to check what the company of interest specializes in, and what sort of reputation they hold in the industry.
  4. Sustainable data system: Adjustments to a project are guaranteed. Will your contract data partner have the measures in place in their data system to assure complete accuracy no matter what changes take place?
  5. Proven track record: A company that has an extensive history of positive reviews and experiences creates a reputation that can help ensure the success of future contract manufacturing jobs. If those who went before you were happy with their projects, it is likely that you will be as well. Taking the guesswork about whether what the manufacturer is saying is genuine makes your job easier and gives you better clarity about the decision. They also likely have a broader base of knowledge and understand where things go wrong and can better adjust accordingly.

Partner With Laserfab for Your Contract Manufacturing

partner with laserfab

Proper analysis of what to look for in a contract manufacturing partner will help you form strong business relationships and stay ahead of the curve in your industry. If you’re looking for a trusted manufacturer to partner within your supply chain, start your search by checking out what Laserfab has to offer in your specific industry. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also request a quote.

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Metal Fabrication Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:51:28 +0000 Every time you get in a car, pick up the phone, handle a tool or turn on an electronic appliance, you are looking at the result of metal fabrication. Our economy relies on metal fabrication. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to run our electrical systems or create the parts that keep our houses, kitchens,…

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guide to metal fabrication

Every time you get in a car, pick up the phone, handle a tool or turn on an electronic appliance, you are looking at the result of metal fabrication.

Our economy relies on metal fabrication. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to run our electrical systems or create the parts that keep our houses, kitchens, businesses, computers, and vehicles operational. However, it is difficult for many of us to understand what metal fabrication entails, as well as all of the areas of our lives it affects.

This article will explain the essentials of metal fabrication: its definition, history, process, benefits, types, and applications. By the end, you will have a more in-depth understanding of how crucial this process is to civilization and how many different parts of our lives it touches.

What Is Metal Fabrication?

Metal fabrication is the process of manufacturing sheet metal to make it conform to specific shapes. It takes place through cutting, stamping, shaping, folding and welding.

what is metal fabrication

The sheet metal fabricators use is typically around a quarter of an inch or less. At this thickness, the metal is pliable and can easily assume different shapes. The metal fabricators themselves are highly skilled specialists, trained to cut and manipulate metal with a surgeon’s precision. Many manufacturing operations operating on a grand scale will have their regarding onsite metal fabrication crew.

Many jobs outsource metal fabrication to machine shops. Machine shops exist all over the United States — and the rest of the world, of course — and they often operate by creating schematics to bid on jobs for companies. The work can vary widely, from medical to building materials to computers, but the beginning phases can look similar across industries.

Metal fabrication requires a lot of strategy and planning before actual work commences. The process is far more than just taking drill bits to sheet metal — there is engineering, bidding, back-and-forth communication with the client, adjustments, material sourcing and material ordering. Additional parts that go into the process may include:

  • Plate metal
  • Expanded metal
  • Formed metal
  • Wire for welding
  • Hardware
  • Fittings
  • Castings

Of course, these will vary depending on the job. Essentially, a fabrication shop or machine shop will start with a collection of assorted metals and transform them into the tightly built structures so common in our everyday lives.

The History of Metal Fabrication

Humans have been mining and machining metal for the past 10 millennia, as evidenced by a copper pendant archaeologists found in northern Iraq that dates back to about 9,000 BCE. Fabrication shops as we know them today began to exist around the Industrial Revolution, when sheet metal was in much higher demand than before. The invention of the hydraulic press, which allowed manufacturers to apply unprecedented pressures to pieces of metal, transformed the metal fabrication industry.

history of metal

Metal fabrication on a broad scale was necessary to form systems of railroads, telegraph lines, weapons, tools, printing presses and other implements that have been so instrumental in our history. All of these advances relied on machine shops performing joints, cuts, bends and forming operations, just as is done today. The advent of compressed air has made riveting, another important part of fabrication, much easier and more efficient.

With the onset of the 20th century, metal fabrication has assumed an even larger role in our lives. We now perform machining on grand scales, ranging from small, family-run operations to large manufacturing plants employing thousands of people.

How Does the Metal Fabrication Process Begin?

Metal fabrication starts with an idea, typically born out of necessity, that involves a piece of metal suited for some particular task. For example, a tech company may need a machined aluminum case for a new gadget. Their engineers design the part and send it out to several machine shops as part of a request for a quote. The machine shops analyze the schematic, calculate the cost of production and reply with both cost and lead time.

At this point, the company chooses the machine shop they wish to work with. The shop then puts the order in their queue and sets about ordering materials for the machining job. These may consist of sheet metal, metal bars, metal rods and more. As soon as the parts arrive and the job is in the queue, the team sets to work building the part itself.

The time it takes to fabricate depends on the complexity of the part and the demand on the machine shop. The fabrication shop may also provide assistance in both design and production, though this is more common for custom parts that require unique processes to complete. Skilled machinists can produce practically any shape or design once they figure out the best way to solve the problem.

Problem-solving includes conceptualizing the best way to create the part, which may mean figuring out what material characteristics are necessary to accomplish the design. Computer-aided design has made parts much easier to fine-tune, and it allows engineers to figure out crucial information instantaneously, including information on spots that may be structurally weak.

What Is the Metal Fabrication Process?

The actual process of metal fabrication begins with choosing the right method. This will vary with the geometry of the part, the type of usage it will get and what it is made of. Here are examples of some choices for different metal fabrication processes:

  • Cutting: This is the most fundamental process in metal fabrication, and it can be accomplished through waterjet and laser cutting, chopping, sawing, shearing and chiseling. Cutting is what turns the sheet metal into a piece of the required size and shape. Today, waterjet and laser cutting comprise the foremost technologies available.
  • Casting: A die forms a mold, and the fabricator pours molten metal into it. This metal cools down and turns solid, and the part remains after removing the die.
  • Forging: High-pressure machinery compresses raw metal, allowing a fabricator to bend and shape it.
  • Punching: Turrets punch pre-designed patterns into the metal, either for decorative purposes or utility.
  • Drawing: This process uses tensile force to pull liquid metal into a tapered die.
  • Milling: A milling mechanism bores perforations into the metal, which, due to the nature of the machine, can be non-circular.
  • Drilling: A drill cuts holes into the metal using a circular bit.
  • Turning: The piece of metal goes onto a spinning platform, allowing a technician to cut it radially with a tool as it spins.
  • Extrusion: A ram forces billets through a die. This extrusion process forms cylindrical parts, such as pipes or electrical wires.

metal fabrication process

After the initial process turns out the resulting part, it is possible a secondary finishing process may be required. This may be some sort of assembly if two or more parts need to be joined. The part may also need deburring, grinding, riveting, adhesive application, bolting or painting.

Benefits of Metal Fabrication

There’s not much need to sell anyone on metal fabrication these days. Metal has demonstrated its aesthetic quality, longevity and structural strength for millennia now, and with new alloys continuing to emerge, it is only continuing to improve. Here are some of the benefits of metal fabrication:

  • Superior strength: Metal is a cut above the rest in terms of its strength. Particularly important is its high tensile strength, or resistance to being pulled apart, that makes it useful for wires, cables, screws and other hardware. It also demonstrates great compressive strength and nearly unparalleled hardness. All of these qualities come coupled with the fact that metal is easy to manipulate, bend, drill and shape.
  • Stronger than plastic: Plastic is metal’s main competitor. However, while plastic is suitable for certain applications, there is a compelling reason metal often wins out: It is vastly stronger. Metal is also more durable and more resistant to wear than plastic. If there is a risk of high temperatures, metal also wins in that it can handle a range of temperatures that would cause most plastics to melt. Metal can also undergo a wider range of manufacturing processes than plastic.
  • Aesthetic quality: There is hardly a product in the world that doesn’t benefit at least partially from aesthetic quality. Whether it is a consumer product or a piece of industrial equipment, metal bespeaks strength and smooth operation. We largely associate our perception of its beauty with its advantages — that’s why the latest technological revolution has mostly centered on sleek, elegant metal forms such as laptops and smartphones.
  • Heat resistance: Beyond its comparison with plastic, metal is capable of withstanding dramatic increases in temperature. Assuming the manufacturer has accounted for the expansion that results with increased temperature, this heat is unlikely to damage the metal part.
  • Versatility in fabrication: Metal can withstand lots of different manufacturing processes. These include deep drawing, forging, casting, welding, soldering, chipping, peening and more, making a wide array of metal shapes and geometries feasible. The sky is the limit with what parts will be required in the future, so metal will likely remain the material of choice.
  • Cost-efficiency: Particularly in high-volume production, metal is extremely cost-efficient. Machine shops can replicate procedures and create large runs of product for relatively little cost per unit.

benefits of metal fabrication

Metal Fabrication Applications

To give some idea of the breadth of industries where metal fabrication is an indispensable tool, let’s take a look at the applications of fabrication in everyday life:

  • Automobile bodies: Automobiles may contain plenty of materials, but their skeleton and skin are completely reliant on metal. A car’s chassis is metal, typically steel or aluminum, as are most of its exterior panels, suspension riggin, and frame. Without metal, a car would not have the structural integrity to handle bumps on the road or heavy cargo.
  • Automobile engines: Automobile engines consist of tightly machined parts that interlock to form a functioning whole. Metal fabrication techniques make everything from the long, snaking pipes of the exhaust system to the crankshaft and pistons. Other components include the crankcase, oil pump, spark plugs, fuel injection system, chain, throttle and gudgeon pin. Bolts and rivets hold most of these components together, which also rely on metal fabrication.
  • Tools and hardware: Our homes, automobiles, appliances and everyday conveniences would not exist as we know them without metal fabrication. That is thanks to the fact that the majority of our tools and hardware get produced by machine. Hammers, air compressors, nail guns, drill bits, grinders and saws are all the result of metal fabrication. Of equal importance are the pieces of hardware they are responsible for installing, such as nails, screws, bolts and tension rods.
  • Smartphone and laptop shells: The computers and phones we have come to know and love are the results of metal fabrication. Particularly with the popularization of simple, sophisticated products that have served to tame the growing complexity of user interfaces, a phone or laptop’s case can, in many ways, define it as a product. For instance, what would the iconic iPhone be without its smooth backing of anodized aluminum and stainless steel?
  • Kitchen hardware: Look around your kitchen, and you will soon realize all the tiny, fabricated parts that make it functional. There are metal handles on the cabinets and drawers. Hinges and drawer slides make the cabinets open and close easily. Faucets and entire sinks are made from low-maintenance stainless steel. Toaster ovens, tea kettles, stove grills, vent fans, refrigerators and trash cans — metal fabrication makes all these things possible.
  • Gadgets and electronics: Electronics rely on metal fabrication for more than just their shells. Fabrication is responsible for creating wires of different sizes and materials, as well as piping and internal architectures that allow for the placement of circuit boards and components. Cooling fans and parts like potentiometers are also often made with metal fabrication.
  • Aerospace: One growing sector of industry is aerospace, whose components and craft must follow tight tolerances and uncompromised integrity. These parts must withstand sustained use, extreme temperatures, pressure fluctuations and chemical exposure — the perfect job for metal. Metal fabrication jobs for aerospace range from large, industrial plants to smaller operations specializing in a specific part or component.
  • Medical: The medical industry and the metal fabrication industry are inextricably connected. From hospital beds to surgical tools, and from ventilation systems to lifesaving defibrillating devices, metal fabrication has helped build the medical industry. Metal is also advantageous to this industry because it provides an easily sterilized material that does not trap bacteria, moisture or germs.

Learn More About Laserfab Metal Fabrication Services

Our metal fabrication services prioritize three factors: price, quality, and delivery. While many companies excel in one or two of these qualities, Laserfab understands true value is about treating all three equally.

metal fabrication by laserfab

It all starts with filling out our Request for Quote form. We take every step possible to ensure the lowest price with the highest quality. You’ll receive your quote quickly, allowing you to make the most of your time.

Our production involves state-of-the-art equipment in a high-grade, professional facility that employs some of the industry’s best engineers and technicians. As soon as we finish your product, we will deliver it to your doorstep when you need it.

Contact Laserfab today to discover why we are leading the industry in high-quality metal fabrication.

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Benefits of Outsourcing Laser Cutting Tue, 15 May 2018 21:03:10 +0000 There are many cases where traditional cutting won’t work for a project and only laser cutting will achieve the desired results. While laser cutting is a fantastic cutting method for a wide variety of industries, some businesses are quick to consider implementing it on-site. Even though buying your own laser cutting equipment and handling the…

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There are many cases where traditional cutting won’t work for a project and only laser cutting will achieve the desired results. While laser cutting is a fantastic cutting method for a wide variety of industries, some businesses are quick to consider implementing it on-site. Even though buying your own laser cutting equipment and handling the process on-site may sound like a good option, it’s not the best choice for many businesses. Instead, consider outsourcing your laser cutting to a third-party company. Read on to learn more about why outsourcing may be right for you.

Reasons to Outsource Laser Cutting

While many businesses may consider buying their laser cutting equipment outright and handling everything on-site, the cost of this equipment is even more prohibitive than it seems. As such, many businesses are better served by outsourcing laser cutting to a third-party service. Here are just a few advantages of outsourcing laser cutting:

  1. Expensive Equipment: Laser cutting equipment is prohibitively expensive, especially for smaller businesses that won’t use it often. While some machining businesses can justify the costs, most businesses needing laser cutting services don’t need a laser cutter taking up space on the production floor. Instead of doling out the money, outsource your laser cutting to a company who can get the job done while meeting your budgetary needs.
  2. Required Expertise: While laser cutting is a popular and highly-regarded technique, not many people know how to handle the equipment. There is a significant learning curve to navigate. To use a laser cutter, employees need extensive training. Instead of paying for that training, outsource the job to a group who already knows how to use the equipment properly.
  3. Costly Maintenance: Laser cutting equipment has complicated parts that require constant maintenance. Paying for this maintenance can be very expensive, but skimping can be dangerous for the equipment and employees. This is another reason why outsourcing your laser cutting services is cost-effective in the long run.
  4. Make the Most of Laser Cutting Businesses love laser cutting for many reasons. It’s precise and effective and can be used on a wide variety of materials. However, you can maximize these benefits by having your laser cutting done by a team of experts. This is a primary reason why many choose to outsource their laser cutting — they benefit from the experience of experts who can make the most of laser cutting and maximize the benefits of this cutting method.

Consider these reasons to choose to outsource laser cutting services and see how they may benefit your business and reduce your costs. To learn more about these benefits and what you can gain by choosing outsourced laser cutting, contact Laserfab.

Contact Laserfab

Let Laserfab become a partner in your business’ supply chain and see how our laser cutting services can benefit your organization. Our advanced technology and collaborative staff will help your business achieve the best results possible. Contact Laserfab today to learn more about laser cutting technology and how outsourcing to Laserfab can add significant value and cut costs in your business model.

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Laser Cutting vs Waterjet Cutting Tue, 01 May 2018 16:07:15 +0000 The two most common cutting practices used by manufacturing companies are laser cutting and waterjet cutting. While not always appropriate for the same applications, these two fabrication techniques offer value to manufacturing processes, albeit in different ways. To understand this more fully, it’s essential to understand the methods themselves and the differences between them. What…

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The two most common cutting practices used by manufacturing companies are laser cutting and waterjet cutting. While not always appropriate for the same applications, these two fabrication techniques offer value to manufacturing processes, albeit in different ways. To understand this more fully, it’s essential to understand the methods themselves and the differences between them.

What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is a metal cutting process that makes use of high-density energy beams, usually produced with gas. These beams of energy are directed by mirrors to cut into materials. The beam vaporizes materials on contact, creating smooth, clean cuts while avoiding warping and tearing that can happen with other cutting techniques.

What is Waterjet Cutting?

Waterjet cutting primarily differs from laser cutting in its methods — instead of a laser beam, a waterjet is used to cut material. This waterjet contains abrasive materials like aluminum oxide or garnet to help improve cutting ability, creating cuts through abrasion rather than vaporization.

Differences Between Laser Cutting and Waterjet Cutting

The differences between these two methods don’t just lie in their methods, but in their results and applications. When choosing between laser and waterjet cutting in your applications, consider the following:

  • Materials: Both laser and waterjet are excellent choices to cut metals (stainless steel, steel, aluminum, copper, brass, bronze etc.). Any required secondary operations will help determine which technology is the best for the job.
  • Precision: Laser cutting delivers extremely high precision, reaching tolerances of +/-0.005″, depending on the speed of the laser. Waterjet cutting typically holds a tolerance of +/- 0.03″.
  • Waste: Both laser and waterjet produce little waste. Depending on the material type, there can be deburring needed with laser cutting, but very little clean up required for parts cut on the waterjet.
  • Tooling: Fiber laser cutting maintains a low tooling cost, since the gasses used to produce the laser and the components are inexpensive. Waterjet cutting is comparatively expensive, requiring many components to run properly, including a high-pressure pump, abrasive materials and cutting heads.
  • Speed: Laser cutting is capable of cutting between 50 – 2,000 inches per minute, depending on speed and material thickness, while waterjet cutting is capable of up to 100 inches per minute.

In the end, each of these material fabrication methods has its own advantages and disadvantages to understand as you select your preferred method. If you need assistance deciding between custom laser cutting vs custom waterjet cutting, Laserfab can help!

Contact Laserfab

Laserfab has an extensive, experienced background of offering metal laser cutting services for a variety of industries and can help your business choose between laser cutting and waterjet cutting for your next big project. Contact us today for more information on our superb laser cutting services!

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Benefits of Steel Fabrication Mon, 30 Apr 2018 19:04:32 +0000 If you have ever considered stainless steel for a project, you know it’s a high-quality but costly material to manufacture with. While this material can seem expensive compared to other metals, however, the cost represents a value that no other materials can provide. Stainless steel offers numerous benefits to engineers and designers, from long-term value…

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If you have ever considered stainless steel for a project, you know it’s a high-quality but costly material to manufacture with. While this material can seem expensive compared to other metals, however, the cost represents a value that no other materials can provide. Stainless steel offers numerous benefits to engineers and designers, from long-term value to range of applications. To understand these pros of steel fabrication, we’ll take a look at stainless steel a little bit more closely.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and chromium, coming in 60 varieties, or “grades.” The minimum 10.5% chromium produces a thin, invisible layer of oxide on the surface of the steel called the “passive layer.” This layer allows the stainless steel to be corrosion-resistant, healing in the presence of oxygen.

Reason to Use Stainless Steel Fabrication

The nature of stainless steel lends numerous advantages to steel metal fabrication over other materials, including the following:

  • Long-Term Value: While the high upfront cost of stainless steel may be offputting for people who aren’t experienced with the material, the longevity and long-term value this material provides are unparalleled. This maintenance-free material allows designers and engineers to focus on design and production without considering maintenance in the process.
  • Versatile: Because it is available in so many grades with specific qualities, stainless steel can be used in a huge range of applications. From cooking supplies to surgical instruments to airplanes, stainless steel is used everywhere to meet a variety of strength and corrosion-resistance needs.
  • Heat Resistance: The resistance to fire and heat exhibited by stainless steel also adds to its long-term value and versatility. Specifically, high chromium and nickel alloy grades are particularly heat resistant, making them perfect for applications like boilers, valves and heat exchangers.
  • Corrosion Resistant: Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion due to its oxide layer. With this layer, it retains its surface quality in nearly any setting, contributing to the material’s long-term value.
  • Easy Fabrication: Provided that your fabrication company is using the latest in modern technology and equipment, fabrication should not be a problem with stainless steel. Most modern stainless steel fabricators can carry out cutting, welding, and everything in between with ease, provided they’re not using outdated equipment.
  • Recyclable: With an increasing emphasis being placed on sustainability, environmental-friendliness, and ethical resource management, the recyclability of stainless steel has become an enormous benefit. Stainless steel is often recycled, and today, over 50% of stainless steel comes from previously melted stainless steel scraps. This helps keep steel waste to a minimum.

It’s easy to see how the pros of steel fabrication far outweigh the cons, especially if you are considering steel for its long-term value.

Contact Laserfab

Interested in learning more about the advantages of steel metal fabrication? Explore Laserfab and discover how our extensive experience in stainless steel manufacturing can help you maximize these benefits! Contact us today for more reasons to use stainless steel fabrication!

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All About Laser Cutting Mon, 26 Feb 2018 21:26:40 +0000 All About Laser Cutting In the last few decades, laser cutting has experienced more than a surge in popularity — it has become an indispensable part of world commerce. From fabrication to medicine and beyond, laser cutting is an industry seemingly without limits. Its products can be found everywhere. Lasers cut the silicon in microchips,…

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All About Laser Cutting

all about laser cutting

In the last few decades, laser cutting has experienced more than a surge in popularity — it has become an indispensable part of world commerce. From fabrication to medicine and beyond, laser cutting is an industry seemingly without limits. Its products can be found everywhere. Lasers cut the silicon in microchips, perform corrective eye surgeries and craft the futuristic gear hurtling into space aboard rocket ships.

Still, there is a lot about laser cutting that most people still don’t know. How does it work and what are the mechanics behind it? What are all of its applications? What is the laser cutting process and how do you use it for your own project or business?

In this article, we will dive into everything you need to know about laser cutting. There is a lot to learn, starting with the technical aspects of how a laser cutter functions and then moving on to its many uses. Luckily, the technology is as accessible to the mind as it is to the consumer. Let’s get started.

What Is Laser Cutting?

Simply put, laser cutting is the process of using a laser to cut, score, engrave or otherwise alter physical materials. As futuristic as it sounds, laser cutting is a technology that has been with us for decades. Like many innovations, its scope was initially limited, but an incredible number of industries have since adopted it with great enthusiasm.

what is laser cutting

It can be easy to operate a laser cutter these days. Though the technology itself is the result of astounding feats of genius, the user interface has developed in a user-friendly way. It is common for hobbyists, school science classrooms and businesses to employ the use of laser cutters. They’re not just useful — they are a spectacular way to learn about optics and the properties of light.

Laser cutting starts, naturally, with a laser beam. The beam is focused until its intensity is sufficient for the job at hand, whether that’s cutting through metal, human tissue or cardboard. A computer program guides the laser itself and specifies the pattern the laser beam will cut. Once it begins, the laser will then follow the pre-programmed guide to complete its work.

Depending on the material and the desired result, the laser beam will both move around and vary its focal length. This way, it can reach different depths and cut different layers of material. With metals, this is useful for techniques like engraving. In other applications like medicine, however, its pinpoint accuracy allows it to cut medical devices.

Laser cutting is truly an amazing technology. It lies at the confluence of computers and the human touch. Its applications are already broad, but more will undoubtedly emerge as technology continues to improve.

Let’s look now at the mechanics of a laser cutter and how it does what it does.

How Does Laser Cutting Work? Here Are the Basic Mechanics

The word “laser” stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” In a laser cutting device, it all starts with the laser resonator. This component creates the laser beam, in which light particles of the same wavelength travel out of the resonator in the exact same direction. This beam might be in the invisible infrared area of the spectrum, in the case of a CO2 laser, or of some other wavelength as required by the application. When it exits, it may be about .75” in diameter.

This beam of parallel light waves is then reflected off one or more mirrors into the focusing head. Once inside the focusing head, the beam is sent through a series of lenses. These, predictably, focus it. It then passes out through a nozzle and sears whatever it lands on. You’ve seen this effect before. In the same way that sunlight through a magnifying glass can start a fire, shining a laser beam through a focusing lens creates an incredibly powerful, singular point of light.

how laser cutting works

That means all the photons in the laser beam converge at a single point. How could this be? The more physics-oriented reader may cry, “Pauli Exclusion Principle!”, which roughly states that two particles cannot occupy the same space at the same time. However, since photons are not technically matter, they are exempt from the Pauli Exclusion Principle and can exist at the same point in space. That means all the energy in that .75” laser beam is now focused into one point in space.

You can imagine what happens next. The point on the material where this intense light strikes is instantly melted or vaporized.

What Happens to the Material During Laser Cutting?

We have an incredibly intense confluence of laser light striking a surface. But what happens next? How is the depth of cutting controlled and how do we account for different types of material?

As it turns out, we left out one component of the laser system above. It’s the addition of compressed gas to the laser beam’s path. As the beam converges past the focusing lens, it is joined by a stream of fast-moving gas. This is typically oxygen or nitrogen. The gas flows downward and shoots out of the nozzle, which the laser also passes through the tip of, and impacts the zone where the laser is cutting.

Oxygen might be used for a material like soft steel, which the laser will cause to ignite. The oxygen will then make the burning steel incinerate and disappear from the site. In other metals such as aluminum or stainless steel, where the laser beam simply causes the metal to melt, nitrogen is used. As the metal melts, a jet of gas blows down with it and removes the molten metal from the kerf.

materials during laser cutting

The kerf is the slit made by the laser. Its width is adjusted by focusing the laser at different heights relative to the surface.

Uses and Applications of Laser Cutters

As we have said, laser cutting is an exciting industry full of continuously new developments. Here are some of the most common applications of laser cutting today.

  • Metals

Not only does laser cutting work on a large number of metals, but it is also a versatile tool between industries. Laser cutting can make smooth, tight cuts that are cleaner than those made by machining. Like machining, it too can be programmed and guided by a computer, meaning a laser cutter can automatically create large numbers of metal parts for cars, computers and more.

Metals undergo many different operations in laser cutting. Often, strange shapes such as automobile frames or hydro-formed parts need laser cutting, as do many parts in the aerospace industry. The results are often better than with plasma cutting.

  • Reflective Metals

Why mention reflective metals when we’ve already mentioned metals? Because reflective metals bounce backlight that shines upon them, which this raises concerns when directing a high-powered laser beam at them. If the metal were to reflect the laser, it could destroy itself.

The answer to this problem comes in the form of fiber laser cutting. With this technique, fiber optic cables transmit the laser beam to the metal. Any light reflected does no damage to the fiber optic cable. Metals such as aluminum, silver, copper, and gold are all reflective and are vitally important in the production of automobiles and semiconductors.

  • Medical Sciences

Laser cutting also plays a huge role in the medical industry, where extreme precision and tight dimensional tolerances are essential. Because of the medical industry’s demand for high volume, this technology aligns with their needs in that it can replicate designs with both accuracy and a quick turnaround.

laser cutting for medical sciences

Medical devices of many types have their origin in laser cutting, from cardiovascular and orthopedic devices to components for surgical implants. With laser cutting, these devices can be made with the required rapidity without sacrificing accuracy.

  • Engraving and Marking

A slightly less graphic application of laser cutters can be found in the world of engraving and marking. This is also where the laser cutter frequently enters the mainstream market. Many metal signs, insignias and other metal works are produced through engraving and marking. When jewelers need an engraving, they frequently turn to laser cutters.

However, the process is not just limited to metals. Wood also responds well to laser cutting. Wooden signs, pictures, and even decorative topographical reliefs are all products of this technology.

  • Silicon

Our world very much runs on silicon. It makes up our microchips, our solid-state semiconductors and a host of other things related to computers and electronics. It is also a large player in the important field of solar energy, which has a growing potential to power our world. Laser cutting is one of the primary ways silicon is cut for use, so it is difficult to exaggerate exactly how important the technology is.

Part of the reason technology consistently shrinks in size and increases in capacity is thanks to laser cutting of silicon. Laser cutters have grown increasingly precise — as a result, they can cut smaller and smaller pieces of silicon.

The Benefits of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is an incredible technology that serves a huge chunk of the world’s industries. Its benefits continue to grow in number as the technology improves and as more applications find it useful. Here is a list of reasons why it is so popular at the moment:

  • It is versatile with respect to materials. Laser cutting is not limited to any one material or even subset of materials. Laser cutting works with a huge number of metals, ceramics, woods, plastics, rubbers, silicon and more, and is finding new applications all the time.
  • Kerf widths are narrow for fast and accurate cutting. The kerf width in laser cutting can be incredibly thin, which means less material is wasted, the cuts are more precise and efficiency is higher. The turnaround times in laser cutting are relatively quick, too. Additionally, shapes, patterns, and operations can be repeated accurately. The robotics involved in laser cutting are highly sophisticated. If a process requires automation or repetition, you can be sure laser cutting will produce high-quality output.
  • The technology is reliable and setup time is short. Laser cutters have become extremely reliable thanks to improvements in technology, meaning you don’t have to worry about your systems failing. This prevents backups and delays. Programs make designing your product quick and easy.
  • If you need to make a change mid-production, it is easy to do. If you find out at some point during production that you need more, less or a slightly different variation of a product, laser cutters can pivot quickly and adapt to the change in demand.
  • Processing is efficient. If you want to do multiple jobs at once, overlap projects or do some other variation on the norm, laser cutters can accommodate the request.
  • There is no need to clean most materials after laser cutting. Unlike many other processes, laser cutting does not leave a mess. You won’t have to deburr or sand-down your products because the laser cutting process leaves it smooth. In many cases, you can pull the product out of the cutter and send it off to be shipped.
  • The technology is always advancing and becoming greener. Laser cutters are energy-intensive, but they are becoming vastly more efficient. Additionally, CO2-based lasers are increasingly being replaced by fiber-optic lasers.
  • There is huge potential to combine with 3D printers. 3D printing is gaining steam in the same way laser cutting has. It’s likely that the two technologies will combine to produce spectacular possibilities in the near future.

benefits of laser cutting

Come to Laserfab to Learn More About the Possibilities

At Laserfab, we are a one-stop shop for your laser cutting needs. Along with our outstanding customer service, we offer a trusted partnership, top-quality products, highly skilled professionalism and consistent value. When you contact us, we start by giving you a free quote.

We keep materials in stock — including steel, stainless steel, and aluminum — in a wide variety of thicknesses. We can offer accelerated lead times, too. Laserfab’s service becomes an extension of your production team, providing parts that are ready to seamlessly integrate into your WIP.

Laserfab becomes a true partner in your supply chain and works with you to solve your pain points in getting your products to market. We nourish this partnership with engineering support at the beginning of the project and expedite your parts through production as well as outside services such as powder-coating. Our mission isn’t fulfilled until you receive your parts on time and they meet with your approval.

Contact Laserfab today to get started and let us help you take your business and production quality to the next level.


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All About Waterjet Cutting Mon, 26 Feb 2018 19:50:19 +0000 All About Waterjet Cutting Those who have operated a pressure washer know the incredible cutting power of water. Waterjet cutting, which uses a stream of water to cut through metal, stone and other solids, takes this concept to the next level by using water pressure more than 20 times higher than that of a pressure…

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All About Waterjet Cutting

all about waterjet cutting

Those who have operated a pressure washer know the incredible cutting power of water. Waterjet cutting, which uses a stream of water to cut through metal, stone and other solids, takes this concept to the next level by using water pressure more than 20 times higher than that of a pressure washer.

This technology came about in the 1970s and has advanced rapidly ever since. With the aid of computers, waterjet cutting has become a necessity for many industries. It is one of the most versatile processes for cutting shapes and has a narrow kerf width, which gives the cutter more agility. For this reason, it is often best for detailed work and can produce figures that are quite small.

As opposed to laser or plasma cutting, both of which involve high-temperature streams of energy, waterjet cutting is done entirely with water and an optional grit. It is a cold-temperature process, which is important in several ways, but most notably, it forms a different type of edge than its hotter counterparts. The cold-temperature method results in less stress on the metal and no warped or hardened parts.

At Laserfab, we offer waterjet cutting to our customers with a fair price, the highest-quality workmanship and quick delivery time. If you’re wondering why you should choose waterjet cutting, let us explain exactly what goes into it, how it works and what applications it has in today’s world. It truly is a technology without bounds — and with its ability to cut through nearly any substance, it still has plenty of untapped potential.

What Is Waterjet Cutting, and What Does It Entail?

Waterjet cutting is another means of cutting metal, plastic, stone and many other materials. Different than laser cutting and plasma cutting, waterjet cutting uses a high pressure stream of water and garnet to cut through material.

what is waterjet cutting

What is the waterjet cutting process? First, the workpiece is placed on the machine’s table, where a series of clamps hold it in place. Then, an operator communicates to a computer exactly what will be done. In a process that is entirely pre-programmed and guided by the computer, the waterjet cutting machine then begins to blast through the workpiece. The water that cuts through it gets recycled and reused, making the waterjet cutter much more environmentally friendly than if the water went to waste.

The thicker the workpiece, the longer a waterjet cutter will take to get through it. Waterjet cutting is an inherently slower process than laser cutting, and working with thicker materials lengthens this process considerably.

Though waterjet cutting is a slower process, waterjets can cut through more substances than not — here is a sampling of some of the typical work media:

  • D2 tool steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Bronze
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Nylon
  • Polypropylene

As you can see, waterjet cutting can cut through a diverse set of material. Now let’s look at exactly how the apparatus works to get a better understanding of the technology.

How Does Waterjet Cutting Work?

The process starts with a high-pressure pump, which can be either a hydraulic intensifier pump or a direct drive pump. Industrial waterjet cutters use the hydraulic intensifier pump, in which a series of hydraulic rams increase pressure in the system to the desired level. The high-pressure water then passes through a series of valves and pressure gauges before moving through the intensifier, which ramps up the force even more using plungers. Hydraulic intensifier pumps have a higher upfront cost and are less efficient, with a maximum efficiency of around 65 percent. However, they cost less to maintain over time.

Direct drive pumps, on the other hand, use mechanical crankshafts to create high pressure in the system. Because there is less energy lost to friction, these pumps boast efficiencies close to 90 percent. Because direct drive pumps are more suited for lighter duty cutting, they cost less up front, but more to maintain in the long run. They are inherently simpler than hydraulic systems and have fewer moving parts.

hydraulic intensifier pump

At this point, the water is ready to move into the nozzle area.

The first gateway the water must pass through in the nozzle is the jewel orifice. This orifice is typically made of a precious gem such as sapphire, which is highly resistant to corrosion, heat and pressure. Additionally, the jewel is exceedingly low-friction — which is useful because a buildup of heat due to friction in this high-pressure environment could quickly lead to part failure. It would also result in a loss of energy and efficiency.

The jewel orifice focuses the stream of water downward through the nozzle. This point is where the abrasive inlet might allow grit to enter — in that case, the abrasive would be rapidly accelerated along with the stream of water and would aid in the cutting process. Pure water systems do not have an abrasive inlet. In any case, the water stream shoots downward and out the tip of a nozzle, where it begins the cutting process.

How High Is the Pressure?

One of the greatest debates in waterjet cutting is the optimal level of pressure in the water system. This debate generally falls into two schools of thought: the 60,000 psi team and the 90,000 psi team. Essentially, those who advocate high pressure note that the speed of cutting increases when pressure approaches 90,000 psi. In fact, the faster velocity of water does increase the speed of cutting by a factor of 1.5, and it has the added effect of requiring less abrasive.

On the other hand, the lower-pressure team argues high pressure decreases efficiency. They claim a waterjet cutting machine might achieve the same cutting capabilities running a direct drive pump at 60,000 psi as a hydraulic intensifier at 90,000 psi.

At Laserfab, we use the high-pressure system with garnet abrasive because it works more quickly, which results in a lower cost for the consumer. Laserfab uses Dynamic Waterjet cutting technology combined with the Lantek Expert software, which produces optimized results while still allowing faster cutting speeds.

what we use for laser cutting

The Benefits of Waterjet Cutting

Industry experts typically compare waterjet cutting to laser cutting and plasma cutting, both of which can achieve similar results. However, waterjet cutting offers some benefits that set it apart from its competitors:

  • It is a cold-cutting process. Because waterjet cutting does not produce the intense heat plasma and lasers do, it does not melt, harden or warp the edge of the material it is cutting. Waterjets result in a smooth, visibly undisturbed edge that is not disproportionately strained or affected by heat.
  • It can cut in all directions. The waterjet cutting nozzle is not limited to a two-dimensional set of axes. It can rotate and swivel to cut at all sorts of angles, thereby making it incredibly versatile.
  • It usually does not require starting holes. Many times, metals require starting holes for a jet to cut through them. Waterjet cutting typically does not, which results in less labor, less time and less cost to the customer.
  • It cuts through almost anything. As mentioned before, there is a very short list of materials waterjet cutting will not penetrate.
  • It can easily produce a finished product. Though this varies with the application, it is often the case that a waterjet cutting process will produce a finished product that does not require further work.
  • It is environmentally friendly. The water used in waterjet cutting gets recycled in a closed-loop system, and at high pressures, a smaller amount of abrasive is necessary, which results in less waste.
  • It does not produce much dust or dangerous gas. Water and abrasives blast through the material and carry the majority of the debris down into the drain, which reduces the amount of potentially breathable gas produced.
  • The machine programming is flexible. One of the greatest strongpoints of waterjet cutting is its ability to adapt to many different parameters and needs. It results not only in creative uses of the system, but also the ability to alter the process at any point as needs dictate.
  • The small kerf width means less waste. The wider the kerf width, the more waste material the cutter removes from the workpiece. With waterjet cutting, a kerf width of around 0.01″ means less waste and more recyclable scraps.
  • It is faster than traditional cutting methods. While waterjet cutting may be a bit slower than laser or plasma cutting, it is still much quicker than other cutting methods. Additionally, what it lacks in speed, it makes up in pinpoint accuracy and smooth edges.

Uses and Applications of Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutting creates intricate, precision designs without the application of heat. It is useful for many different industries and applications, including the following.

  • The aerospace industry: Waterjet cutting creates the bodies of military aircraft, which are generally made of titanium, as well as parts of their engines. Because many of these components are heat-resistant, waterjet cutting does not interfere with their intrinsic resistance. It is also useful for cutting aluminum components and for panels inside the cabins.
  • The automotive industry: This technology is perfect for cutting floor liners, dashboard and door panels, carpets and many other parts of the interiors of cars. Waterjet cutters also cut fiberglass components and insulation, as well as parts underneath the hood. Bumpers, trunk and truck bed liners, foam and plastic components are all mainstays of automotive waterjet cutting.
  • The electronic industry: Waterjet cutting is useful in cutting circuit boards, and can be used whether the circuit board is already populated or still empty. Additionally, the stream of water is useful for stripping the insulation off wires.
  • The food industry: Waterjets can cut frozen meat, whether it be fish, chicken nuggets, strips or any other type of meat. Waterjet cutting is also a sanitary and fast way to cut vegetables like celery, mushrooms, carrots and more. Food manufacturers may also cut snacks and cakes by waterjet.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is used in many different applications, and waterjet cutting is useful for cutting most of them. Pink fiberglass insulation comes in cleanly cut sections, which waterjet cutters often score. Rigid foam board insulation also uses waterjet cutting to create its 4’x8′ panels. Boats are also made of fiberglass, and waterjet cutting is an efficient way to create the shapes, holes and precise edges needed for a proper fit. The same goes for personal watercraft like jet skis.
  • Slits: Slitting is a delicate procedure that requires the right kind of cut. Whether the slit needs to go in corrugated boxboard, food, paper materials, fiberglass or other products, waterjet cutting is perfect for creating narrow slits.
  • Gaskets: Gaskets play an important role in engines and other mechanical devices, and they often must stand up to pressure and heat while continuing to provide cushion and isolation. Waterjet cutting is used on gaskets for marine, automotive and aerospace applications. It can cut gaskets made of Teflon, fiberglass, metal, rubber, graphite and other materials.
  • Interior design: Whether cutting stone, tiles, shower screens, balusters, glass inlays or stained glass, waterjet cutting is a reliable way to cut materials used inside the home. It can also produce stepping stones and bench tops for use around houses.

military laser cutting

Come to Laserfab for Waterjet Cutting

At Laserfab, we prioritize low price, high quality and speedy delivery. We start our relationship with customers by offering a free quote, which we understand is a crucial part of the buying process. We follow up the quote with unfailing, exceptional customer service at every step of the process. We like to form a trusted partnership with our customers, from the moment they contact us to the completion of our top-quality products.

We are a customer-focused business that emphasizes exceptional customer service. It is a bad feeling to be left in the dark on a project, and our team of highly skilled professionals and craftsmen are committed to keeping you in the loop. Our openness to communication is all part of our dependable value.

We always have steel, stainless steel and aluminum in stock. These metals come in a variety of thicknesses, from 22 gauge to 1 inch. We can also offer accelerated lead times for those on a tight deadline. You can think of Laserfab’s service as an extension of your production team, providing parts that are ready to integrate seamlessly into your works in progress.

Laserfab becomes a true partner in your supply chain. We are here to work with you — addressing your needs, coming up with solutions to your pain points and getting your products to market before the competition. We nurture this partnership through engineering support at the beginning of the project, expediting your parts through production and offering other outside services such as powder coating. Finally, we get your parts to you on time.

Browse Laserfab’s website and contact us for a free quote.

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