The laser (CO2 and fiber) cutting machine has become the ultimate cutting tool for sheet metal in recent years. It’s also one of the most rapidly evolving technologies in metal fabrication and not so long ago you’d be hard pressed to find a fiber or disk cutting laser at a custom fabrication shop. Today they’re popping up everywhere. Some figures bandied about say that 28 machines were imported into South Africa just from China, last year.
A company that has specialised in the sourcing, importing, and installation of a wide range of new sheet metal machines, as well as offering service, support and repairs of the equipment, believes that the manufacturing industry in South Africa needs to be educated about the do’s and don’ts of purchasing a laser cutting machine.
“For most manufacturers, buying an industrial laser cutting machine is a major investment. It’s not just the initial price you pay, but the fact that the purchase will have a great impact on the entire manufacturing process. If the wrong equipment is chosen, you have to live with the decision for quite a long time. It is not unusual to see manufacturers keep a laser for seven to 10 years, before upgrading,”
“Do you know the best way to go about purchasing a laser cutting machine? Even if you currently own one, how long ago did you buy it and what has changed since then?”
“Production managers are always on the line for costs. Whenever the economy takes a dip, the microscope comes out for a closer look at how an operation can be more efficient. For a custom fabrication shop, one way is to bring the laser cutting work that they were previously outsourcing – a big decision – in-house. What they do not realise is that along with this comes a multitude of learning curves and problems, mainly because of the lack of experience and know-how of the process.”
“But there will come that time when you have to ask yourself if it is time for the company to bring laser cutting in-house. This has to be considered even if the business relationship with the subcontractor is great. If the decision is made to bring laser cutting in-house, you may be put in a position where you need to justify why the investment needs to be made. The costs associated with subcontracting out the laser cutting are just the starting point for the justification. How much more productive will the manufacturing process be with in-house laser cutting? How does this affect lead times? From an expense standpoint, not only do you have the cost of the laser cutting machine, you have labour and consumable costs.”
“This scenario doesn’t involve a lot of risk and can work if you have some flexibility with lead times.”
“Lasers have become the true workhorses of metal fabrication, and they have never been more productive. They cut nests at unprecedented speeds, which has made material handling automation even more important. All the high cutting speed in the world may not dramatically affect overall cycle time if a laser sits idle for prolonged periods, waiting for operators to load sheets and unload parts.”
“Similar thinking also applies to edge quality. Edge quality is, of course, subjective. A fabricator will look at a laser-cut component and find that the edge quality is not very good. A welder, on the other hand, may look at the same part and see a smooth, consistent, high-quality edge. Regardless, the application requirements dictate what is considered a quality edge or not. A laser can finish a nest of components in no time flat, but what if those components need to be sent through a secondary operation?”
“To evaluate which machine is best for you, you must first understand your application and define your needs and limitations, all the while accounting for new opportunities and future goals. By doing so, you best match the system capability with your needs, allowing you to take full advantage of the productivity, versatility, and quality benefits that automated laser cutting has to offer.”
“The thickness of the gauge that a fiber laser can cut is increasing but at what cost, both in quality and price? I am sure technology will improve but at the moment you must consider CO2, plasma or waterjet cutting, depending on the gauge thickness that you operate in. Each brings its own unique strengths to the table. Which begs the question: Which process is right for you? Or do you even need to go the laser cutting route? Depending on the component volume, a stamping press, a traditional turret punch press or a high-definition plasma system may deliver the lowest cost per component.
For more professional knowledge about laser cutting machine,Please contact Yangming Technology (firstname.lastname@example.org) is China – (Miss Yang) Yang Ming Head of Global Laser Machinery Business Development
Post time: Jun-30-2020