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Laser Cutting

Metal Cutting and Forming
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Laser Cutting

About Laser Cutting

High speed coupled with high quality makes laser cutting very cost-competitive and a real value for our customers. CNC controls guarantee critical tolerances while accommodating fine features and larger blank sizes, making laser cutting an ideal process for prototype to low-volume production quantities. Laser cutting produces intricate and complex parts with high-quality edge finishes, without the added time or custom tooling cost. A popular manufacturing method, industries such as aerospace, automotive and medical have all incorporated laser cutting due to its many benefits. Our experts specialize in  laser cutting. Talk to us today about your laser cutting project and how your project can take advantage of laser cutting’s high quality and accuracy.

Metal Laser Cutting Services

Fathom provides nationwide access to precision laser cutting services using state-of-the-art laser cutting machines. Whatever your desired outcome, we have a cutting solution to meet the goal.

Cutting Techniques Summary and How Laser Cutting Compares

Material Thickness Tolerance Kerf Part Volume Set Up Cost Lead Time  ** Notes
FIBER LASER AL: 0.250″ SS: 0.375″ CRS: 0.500″ COP: 0.250″ Brass: 0.125″ 0.002″ – 0.005″ .008″ 1 to High-Volume Low 6-8 days Metals – Fast
OMAX WATERJET Up to 6″ 0.005″- 0.015″ .020″/.040″ 1 to 5000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, kevlar, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc. Taper up to 59 °
MICROCUT™ .0005″ – 0.5″ 0.0005″ -0.005″ 0.009″, 0.011″,  0.0196″ 1 to 5000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, kevlar, laminates, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc.
WIRE EDM 0.001″ – 6″ 0.0005″ 0.005″ 1-200 Is Best Low 6-8 days Conductive Metals, Carbon
* CHEMICAL ETCHING 0.005″ – 0.060″ Is +/- 10% of material thickness, .002″ min. Equal to metal thickness 1- Infinity $350 Min. 6-8 days Metal Only. No Burrs. Beveled Edges. Half Etch and Holes.

 * Inner radius should be 100% of material thickness.  Outer Radius should be 75% of material thickness.
**Dependent on geometry, volume and material:  EXPEDITE options available.

How Does Laser Cutting Work?

Laser cutting is a manufacturing technique that utilizes a high-powered laser beam to cut, engrave or mark material. Laser cutting can be used with a wide range of materials, from metal to paper. There are multiple types of laser cutting machines categorized by gas, liquid or solid-state. CO2 lasers are a gas state laser which use a carbon dioxide mixture to cut. Solid-state lasers, such as the fiber optic laser, use laser diodes transmitted through optical fibers to create the desired cuts. The laser cutting machine uses no mechanical components and makes its cuts within an enclosure. This means the operation produces less noise and decreases the personal risk of the operator.

laser cutting machine
laser cutting machine

Benefits of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting offers many advantages compared to other cutting options, including:

  • Better cutting precision and accuracy
  • Higher quality cut edges
  • Narrower kerf widths
  • Limited material distortion, contamination and waste
  • Less maintenance and repair costs
  • Better operator safety
  • Quick set-ups

Compared to conventional cutting machines and technology, laser cutting machines can cut a wide range of designs with a more superior degree of precision and accuracy. Laser cutting can be fully CNC controlled, which allows for laser cutting machines to repeatedly and consistently produce complex and intricate parts. Also, laser cutting yields higher-quality cuts which typically do not require additional cleaning or finishing. This in turn decreases the need for additional finishing.

Laser Cutting Specifications

Fiber Optic Laser

A fiber optic laser is a laser that uses an active medium as the optical fiber that leverages atypical elements such as erbium, praseodymium, holmium and others.

Specifications:

  • Blinding max cutting speed of >1,800 inches per minute
  • .008 Kerf
  • Thickness capacity:
    • Aluminum 0.005″ – 0.500″
    • Stainless Steel 0.005″ – 0.750″
    • CRS 0.010″ – 1.000″
    • Copper 0.005″ – 0.375″

Features common to Fiber Optic and CO2 Lasers:

  • Feature size tolerance +/- 0.002″
  • Linear and position tolerance +/- 0.005″
  • 5′ x 10′ sheet processing size
  • Automatic pallet changing for optimized production processing
  • Material sensing head maintains perfect standoff for optimum edge quality
  • Low setup cost
  • Fast delivery

The type of laser best suited for a project depends on the material being used. Other factors may also be taken into account for specific applications, including the wavelength, laser power, machine configuration, beam mode and focal spot.

Materials Used for Laser Cutting

Laser cutting can be used for a variety of materials, including aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel and copper.

Laser Cutting Sheet Metal

CO2 and Fiber laser systems cutting are ideal for cutting sheet metal. In fact, laser cutting sheet metal is one of the more popular methods of traditional sheet metal techniques. This metal cutting option allows for accurate cutting of sheet metals like stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, copper and brass. Given the high speed and reliability of fiber lasers, laser cutting sheet metal typically ends up ahead of other processes in terms of cost per part, but there are a lot of factors that come into play specific to the end cost of your cutting project.

Laser Cutting Techniques

laser cutting process
laser cutting process

Laser cutting may involve one or more of the following techniques:

  • Laser cutting: The material is cut to create smaller pieces or intricate shapes.
  • Laser engraving: A layer is removed from the material, leaving an engraving or design.
  • Laser marking: Like engraving, a mark is made on the material’s surface, but it is not as deep as an engraving.
  • Laser drilling: Dents or holes are made in the material.

What are the Advantages of Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting has many benefits:

  • Higher quality edges
  • Control and precision
  • Extreme accuracy
  • Narrower kerf widths
  • Decreased material distortion
  • Decreased contamination and waste
  • No contact manufacturing process
  • Low maintenance and repair costs
  • Operator safety

Which Industries Use Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting can be used for a range of applications and industries, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive and electric vehicle components
  • Medical device manufacturers
  • Many others

How Laser Cutting Companies Differ

Different laser cutting companies can differ based on the specific type and volume of laser cutting they offer. Each will come with specific expertise and may specialize in different industries. Fathom provides nationwide access to precision laser cutting services using state-of-the-art laser cutting machines. Whatever your desired outcome, we have a cutting solution to meet the goal.

History of Laser Cutting

Using lasers for manufacturing is a relatively new technique. The first laser was developed in the 1960s. Initially, laser cutting was used to drill in diamond mines. By 1967, the British created a laser machine powerful enough to cut metal and was eventually used to cut titanium for aerospace use. Gas laser cutting was invented in 1964 and was initially used to cut softer textiles. During the 1980s, the popularity of laser cutting increased significantly, with over 20,000 machines installed. Since then, laser cutting has rapidly evolved and is used for diverse applications.

Laser Cutting Cost Calculation

Laser cutting costs can vary based on the type of material being cut, volume and other project criteria. Most cost calculations are calculated based on the time a job takes on the laser. Of course this is dependent on the variables mentioned above. So in the end, laser cutting cost calculations can vary greatly.

Get a Quote Today for Your Laser Cutting Project

Our experts are ready to talk to you about your laser cutting part. Get started today with an online quote.

Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
The Fathom Advanced Manufacturing Platform
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HEADQUARTERS

1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016
ITAR

ARIZONA

444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016
NIST800-171
ITAR

FLORIDA

14000 N.W. 58th Court
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
ISO 13485:2016

CALIFORNIA

620 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
NIST 800-171
ITAR

ILLINOIS

1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified

NEW YORK

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
AS9100:2016
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
ITAR

TEXAS

1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015
ISO 13485:2016

COLORADO

7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

MINNESOTA

13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304

OHIO

6415 Angola Road
Holland, OH 43528