The advent of advanced laser technology, capable of cutting through various metals with remarkable speed and precision, has transformed metal laser cutters into invaluable assets for businesses seeking to augment their production capacity. These machines not only bolster output rates but also streamline manufacturing processes, ultimately leading to heightened profitability. They offer indispensable support to professional business owners, hobbyists, and part-time designers alike.
If you are contemplating acquiring a new laser metal cutter for your professional or creative endeavors, this article serves as a comprehensive guide to aid you in making an informed decision.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the exciting world of laser metal cutting.
The Future of Laser Metal Cutting
The domain of laser metal cutting technology is a rapidly evolving field teeming with exciting prospects that promise to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. As new innovations in laser technology surface, metal laser cutters are set to become faster, more accurate, and more versatile. Future developments may include more potent laser sources, enhanced automation and control systems, and the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
Understanding Metal Laser Cutters
A metal laser cutter is an automated CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cutting machine designed to cut custom shapes and contours out of metal sheets & plates, profiles, straps, tubes & pipes. It is the optimal metal cutting solution for hobbyists and industrial manufacturers.
A laser metal cutter is essentially a computer numerical controlled automated metal cutting system used for 2D/3D cut ideas & projects. It is capable of cutting a wide range of materials including stainless steel, galvanized steel, carbon steel, mild steel, cold rolled steel, hot rolled steel, copper, brass, alloy, iron, silver, gold, titanium, aluminum, and bronze.
A laser metal cutting machine is a precision cutting tool kit with a CNC controller for automatic sheet metals & tubes fabrication. It comprises a machine bed frame, power supply, generator, reflector path, cutting head, water chiller, control panel, and software.
The Working Principle of a Laser Metal Cutting Machine
The energy of the laser is concentrated into a high-density beam in the form of light. This beam is transmitted to the work surface, generating sufficient heat to melt the material. The high-pressure gas coaxial with the beam directly removes the fused metal, achieving the purpose of metal cutting. This process distinguishes laser metal cutting from traditional CNC machining.
A laser metal cutting machine is a smart cutting system that uses the fiber or CO2 laser beam emitted from the generator to focus on the beam irradiation condition of high power density through the external circuit system. The heat is absorbed by the metal part material, causing the part temperature to rise sharply. Once the boiling point is reached, the material begins to vaporize and form holes. As the relative position of the beam and the part moves, a slit is eventually formed in the material. The technological parameters (cutting speed, power supply, gas pressure) and movement trajectory during slitting are controlled by the CNC system, and the slag at the slit is blown off by the auxiliary gas with a certain pressure.
During laser-cut metal, an auxiliary gas suitable for the material to be cut is also added. When cutting steel, oxygen must be used as an auxiliary gas to produce an exothermic chemical reaction with the molten metal to oxidize the material, while helping to blow away the slag in the slit. For metal parts with high processing accuracy, nitrogen can be used as an auxiliary gas in the industry.
Applications of Metal Laser Cutting Machines
A laser metal cutting machine is an automated cutting tool used for industrial manufacturing in a variety of sectors such as school education, small businesses, home business, small shop and home shop for sheet metal fabrication, aviation, spaceflight, electronics, electrical appliances, kitchenware, auto parts, office supplies, furniture kitchen dining, subway parts, automobile, machinery, precision components, ships, metallurgical equipment, elevator, household appliances, metal signs, logos, tags, profiles, letters, words, arts, crafts, gifts, tool fabrication, foils, adornment, advertising and other metalworking industries.
Most organic and inorganic materials can be cut by laser. In the metal fabrication industry, which occupies a significant portion of industrial manufacturing, many metals, regardless of their hardness, can be cut without deformation. High-reflectivity materials such as gold, silver, copper and aluminum alloys, which are also good heat transfer conductors, present a challenge for laser cutting, making it difficult or even impossible to cut (some difficult materials can be cut using pulsed laser beams, due to the extremely high peak power of the pulse wave, the absorption coefficient of the material to the beam will increase sharply instantly).
They can cut stainless steel, carbon steel, tool steel, galvanized steel, spring steel, alloy, iron, aluminum, copper, brass, silver, gold, titanium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, chromium, lead and other metals in hobby use, home business, small shop, commercial use, and industrial manufacturing.
For the manufacturing industry dominated by stainless steel sheets, the laser metal cutter is an effective cutting tool. When the heat input is strictly controlled, the width of the heat affected zone of the trimming edge can be limited, thereby ensuring good stainless steel corrosion resistance. Laser cut of stainless steel uses the energy released when the beam is irradiated to the surface of the steel plate to melt and evaporate the stainless steel. For the manufacturing industry that uses stainless steel sheets as the main component, laser cut of stainless steel is a fast and effective cutting method. The important process parameters that affect the cutting quality of stainless steel are cutting speed, power supply, air pressure and so on.
The thickness of the laser cut of carbon steel plate can reach 70mm, the slit of carbon steel cut by oxidation flux cutting mechanism can be controlled within a satisfactory width range, and the slit of thin plate can be narrowed to about 0.1mm.
Copper & Alloys
Pure copper (purple copper) has high reflectivity, laser cut of brass (copper alloy) should use higher power, auxiliary gas using air or oxygen, can cut thinner plates. Pure copper and brass has high reflectivity and very good thermal conductivity. Pure copper and brass can only be cut when a “reflective absorption” device is installed on the system, otherwise the reflection will destroy the optical components.
Aluminum & Alloys
The cut of aluminum plates is easy to do with fiber lasers, which have high performance whether it is cutting aluminum or aluminum alloy.
Nickel & Alloys
They are also known as high-temperature alloys with many types, most of them can be laser oxidized and flux-cutting with good cuts.
Titanium & Alloys
Pure titanium can be well coupled with the heat energy converted by the focused beam. When the auxiliary gas uses oxygen, the chemical reaction is violent and the cutting speed is fast, but it is easy to form an oxide layer at the cutting edge, which may also cause over-burning. Therefore, the use of air as an auxiliary gas can ensure the cutting quality. Laser cut of titanium alloys is commonly used in aircraft manufacturing. Titanium plates are cut with nitrogen and nitrogen as working gases.
Diverse Varieties of Metal Laser Cutters
Metal laser cutters are broadly categorized into two types based on the laser source: fiber lasers and CO2 lasers. Depending on their applications, these laser metal cutters are further classified into flatbed sheet metal laser cutters, laser tube cutters, and all-in-one hybrid combo laser metal cutting machines that are adept at handling both sheet metals and metal pipes.
Guidelines for Selecting the Optimal Laser Cutter for Metal
If you are engaged in the metal fabrication industry, you may require a laser metal cutter. Consider the following three types of automatic metal cutting tools to suit your needs and budget:
- Flatbed sheet metal cutters.
- Laser tube cutters.
- Dual-purpose laser cutters for sheet metals and metal tubes.
Estimating the Cost of a Metal Laser Cutter
When contemplating purchasing an affordable laser cutter for metal from a local store, you might wonder about the fair price. The cost varies according to different factors such as the source, power, software, driving system, control system, spare parts, and other hardware and software.
The global average total cost of a metal laser cutter is approximately $26,800.00, as per data from Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, and Hymson Laser (formerly known as STYLECNC).
The cost of a fiber laser metal cutting machine ranges from $24,000.00 to $279,000.00. A CO2 laser metal cutting machine’s cost lies between $8,000 and $20,000.00.
Most entry-level sheet metal laser cutters are priced from $8,000.00 with a lower-power 300W CO2 laser tube suitable for hobbyists, enthusiasts, home use, and small businesses. In contrast, some high-end precision sheet metal cutting machines can be as expensive as $279,000.00 with a higher-power 12000W IPG fiber laser source for commercial use. A professional automatic laser tube cutter’s cost starts around $50,000.00 with 1000W, 2000W, 3000W fiber laser power supply for most types of tubing. All-in-one tube and sheet metal laser cutters for sale range from $42,500.00 to $116,000.00 for dual-purpose metal fabrication with a CNC controller in industrial manufacturing.
If you plan to purchase from overseas, remember to include the tax, customs clearance, and shipping costs in the final price.
Technical Parameters – Specifications
Brand: Hymson Laser (formerly known as Hymson)
Laser Type: Fiber Laser, CO2 Laser
Laser Power: 300W, 1000W, 1500W, 2000W, 3000W, 4000W, 6000W, 8000W, 10000W, 12000W, 15000W, 20000W, 30000W, 40000W
Table Sizes: 2′ x 3′, 2′ x 4′, 4′ x 4′, 4′ x 8′, 5′ x 10′, 6′ x 12′
Laser Wavelength: 10.6 μm, 1064 nm
Cooling System: Water Chiller
Max Cutting Thickness: 200mm
MaxCutting Speed: 60m/min
Applications: Metal Sheets, Tubes and Profiles of Mild Steel, Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Tool Steel, Galvanized Steel, Spring Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, Iron, Gold, Silver, Lead, Nickel, Cobalt, Chromium, Titanium, Manganese, Alloy
Price Range: $8,000.00 – $279,000.00
Warranty: 3 years
Metal Thickness Capabilities of Laser Cutters
A laser metal cutter is adept at cutting various thicknesses of different types of metals and alloys. Each type of laser source has its unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cutting metals and alloys. Given the same source, different power supplies will result in varying maximum metal cutting thicknesses. For the same power, different brands of generators have different performances in metal cutting thickness, precision, and speed.
- The 300 watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 3mm thick and carbon steel up to 4mm thick.
- The 1000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 10mm thick, stainless steel up to 5mm, aluminum and copper up to 3mm.
- The 1500 watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 6mm, carbon steel up to 16mm thick, aluminum and copper up to 5mm.
- The 2000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 16mm thick, maximum 8mm stainless steel and aluminum, and maximum 6mm brass & copper.
- The 3000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 20mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 10mm, brass & copper up to 8mm.
- The 4000 watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 12mm, carbon steel up to 22mm thick, aluminum up to 14mm, copper & brass up to 10mm.
- The 6000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 25mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 16mm, copper & brass up to 10mm.
- The 8000 watt power supply can cut stainless steel and aluminum up to 25mm, carbon steel up to 30mm thick, brass & copper up to 12mm.
- The 12,000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum up to 50mm thick, copper & brass up to 20mm thick.
- The 15,000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel and stainless steel up to 60mm thick, maximum 50mm aluminum, and maximum 30mm copper & brass.
- The 20,000 watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 70mm thick, maximum 80mm stainless steel, maximum 80mm aluminum, maximum 70mm brass & copper.
Benefits of Laser Metal Cutting Machines
Laser metal cutters offer benefits such as excellent beam quality, high efficiency, high speed, easy operations, low cost, low maintenance, stable running, and super flexible optical effects, making them ideal for flexible industrial manufacturing requirements.
- High precision and best stability: The use of a heavy-duty bed frame, high precision ball screw transmission mechanism, and optimized CNC system control can meet the processing of precision parts. The dynamic performance is stable, and it can work for a long time.
- High-quality cutting section: The mechanical follow-up cutting head system is adopted, the cutting head follows the height of the plate, and the position of the cutting point is always maintained, so that the cutting seam is smooth.
- High performance: For thin sheet metal cutting, it can replace CO2 laser machines, CNC punching machines, and shearing machines. The cost of the entire laser metal cutting machine is equivalent to 1/4 of a CO2 laser machine and 1/2 of a CNC punching machine.
- Low usage cost and high cutting speed: No consumables, environmentally friendly, and long service life.
- Ease of use: Whether you are a beginner or a professional, whether you are a young adult or an older individual, you can easily operate it.
How to Purchase an Affordable Laser Cutter for Metal Online?
How to buy an affordable laser metal cutter with local pickup or global shipping? This can be a concern after browsing and researching. You can do most of your shopping online by following the 8 buying steps below. Let’s walk you through each step of the buying process.
Step 1. Request A Consult: You can consult with our sales manager online, and we will recommend the most suitable CO2 or fiber laser metal cutting machine to you after being informed by your requirements.
Step 2. Get Free Quotation: We will offer you with our detailed quotation based on your consulted laser machine. You will get the best machine specifications and the affordable price within your budget.
Step 3. Sign A Contract: Both sides carefully evaluate and discuss all the details (technical parameters, specifications and business terms) of the order to exclude any misunderstanding. If you have no doubt, we will send you the PI (Proforma Invoice), and then we will sign a contract with you.
Step 4. Build Your Machine: We will arrange the CNC laser metal cutter machine making as soon as receiving your signed sales contract and deposit. The latest news about building will be updated and informed to the buyer during the manufacturing.
Step 5. Inspection: The whole production procedure will be under regular inspection and strict quality control. The complete machine will be inspected to make sure they can work very well before out of factory.
Step 6. Shipping: Shipping will start as the terms in the contract after your confirmation. You can ask for transport information at any time.
Step 7. Custom Clearance: We will supply and deliver all the necessary shipping documents to the buyer and ensure a smooth customs clearance.
Step 8. Support & Service: We will offer professional technical support and free customer service by Phone, Email, Skype, WhatsApp, Online Live Chat, Remote Service. We also offer door-to-door service in some areas for all types of laser metal cutters.
When using a laser metal cutting machine, it is necessary to pay attention to some small details and precautions. Only by mastering the use skills can the machine cutting efficiency be higher.
Corner Melting: When decelerating to cut the corners of thin sheets, the laser can overheat and melt the corners. A small radius is generated at the corner to maintain the high-speed cutting and avoid the phenomenon of overheating and melting of the steel plate when cutting the corner, so as to achieve good cutting quality, reduce cutting time and improve manufacturing force.
Part Spacing: Usually, when cutting thick plates and hot plates, the distance between parts should be large. Because the heat of the thick plates and hot plates is greatly affected, it is easy to burn edges when cutting sharp corners and small graphics, which will affect the cutting quality.
Lead Settings: In the process of cutting thicker plates, in order to make the slits well connected and prevent burns at the beginning and end points, a transition line is often drawn at the beginning and end of the cutting, which are called lead and tail lines respectively. The lead and tail lines are important to the workpiece itself. It is useless, so it should be placed outside the category of workpieces, and at the same time, be careful not to set the leads atsharp corners and other places that are not easy to dissipate heat. The connection between the lead wire and the slit adopts a circular arc transition as much as possible to make the mechanical movement stable and avoid burns caused by corner stop.
Co-Edging: Two or more parts are co-edged into a combination, and a large number of regular graphics are co-edged as much as possible. Co-edging cutting can greatly shorten the cutting time and save raw materials.
Part Collision: In order to increase production efficiency, some metal laser cutters operate 24 hours a day, and use unmanned automatic loading and unloading devices to hit the overturned parts after cutting, causing damage to the cutting head and interruption of manufacturing, causing great losses. When you need to sort, pay attention to the following three points:
- Choose a suitable cutting path, avoid the cut parts, and reduce collisions.
- Plan the cutting route reasonably to reduce the cutting time.
- Automatically or manually combine multiple small parts with micro-connections. After cutting, the removed parts can easily disconnect the micro-connections.
Safety Guidelines & Precautions
While relishing the high-efficiency and precision of laser metal cutting, it is crucial to ensure safety during its operation. This not only optimizes the machine’s performance but also minimizes potential harm to the operator.
Ensure that the main controller casing, power supply casing, switching power supply casing, motor driver casing, data line casing, machine tool guide rail, motor casing, exhaust fan casing, and the main grounding point are well connected. Poor grounding can shorten the lifespan of the machine, cause high voltage discharge that can damage the control circuit, and even pose a threat to life safety.
Handling with Care
Light Path: During cutting and debugging the light path, avoid any part of the body coming into contact with the light path to prevent injury.
Energy: The magnitude of the laser current determines the energy output. However, when the current exceeds the allowable value, the energy will drop, and prolonged overcurrent can significantly affect the service life of the machine.
Ambient Temperature: If the ambient temperature exceeds the maximum allowable value, the equipment will not dissipate heat sufficiently, reducing its operational stability. Conversely, if the ambient temperature is lower than the minimum allowable value, it may cause the cooling water to freeze.
Cooling Water Temperature: If the cooling water temperature exceeds the maximum allowable value, the laser energy efficiency will rapidly decline. If the cooling water temperature is lower than the minimum allowable value, it may cause the water to freeze.
Ambient Humidity: Excessive humidity can cause high-voltage discharge, endangering personal safety, and can also cause damage to the power supply.
Power Supply: Fluctuations in the power supply voltage can cause the equipment to work unstably. If the voltage is too high, it can cause permanent damage to the power supply system of the equipment. To avoid the electrical appliances and circuits of the machine from being burned out due to excessive voltage, please install a power regulator of more than 2000W.
Prohibited Use Cases
Do not operate the machine during severe weather conditions such as thunder and lightning. Untrained operators are not allowed to operate the machine alone.
Harm to Human Body & Protective Measures
Respiratory Tract Protection: The high temperature generated by the laser, in conjunction with the gas, completes various processing tasks. At the same time, it also produces a large amount of dust, especially when processing certain special metal materials. The dust generated contains some chemical components, which can harm the human body if inhaled. Therefore, when operating a metal laser cutter, attention should be paid to the protection of the respiratory tract. Install the supporting dust removal device, try to operate in an environment with unobstructed air, and wear a mask as much as possible. Do not touch the cut parts immediately to avoid scalding by residual heat.
Eye Protection: A laser metal cutter can cause damage to the retina or cornea of the eye when it is working. When arranging the cutting site, the following measures can be taken to reduce the reflection or radiation of ultraviolet rays:
- Darken the wall finish at the job site to reduce radiation.
- Install protective screens or curtains to reduce UV radiation.
- Wear protective dark-tinted eyes or goggles, or a welding cap to protect the eyes from the glare of the flame, ultraviolet and infrared rays from the plasma arc.
- Others in the working area should not look directly at the arc or flame during cutting.
Skin Protection: Laser cutting can cause certain damage to skin tissue, which can be repaired by itself. However, long-term exposure to a laser beam may cause skin burns or leave scars. Therefore, when working with a laser metal cutter, skinprotection must also be given significant attention.
For safety reasons, it is recommended that the operator wear long-sleeved clothes to prevent skin burns caused by direct laser radiation and prevent scalding caused by molten slag splashing on the skin. Do not touch the cut parts immediately, and wear gloves to avoid burns due to residual heat.
Care & Maintenance
To achieve optimal operation of the metal laser cutter, regular maintenance is essential. The following points should be considered in maintenance:
- Daily cleaning is required to keep the machine clean and tidy.
- After the machine stops working, check whether the X, Y, and Z axes of the machine tool can return to the origin. If not, check whether the position of the origin switch is offset.
- The daily slag discharge drag chain needs to be cleaned.
- Clean up the sticky matter on the filter screen of the air outlet in time to ensure the smooth flow of the ventilation duct.
- The cutting nozzle needs to be cleaned every 1 hour of operation, and replaced every 2-3 months.
- Clean the focusing lens, keep the lens surface free of residue, and replace it every 2-3 months.
- Check the temperature of the cooling water, the temperature of the water inlet of the generator should be kept between 19°C and 22°C.
- Clean up the dust on the cooling fins of the water cooler and freeze dryer. To ensure the heat dissipation efficiency, the dust should be removed.
- Frequently inspect the working status of the voltage regulator to monitor whether the input and output voltages are normal.
- Monitor and check whether the switch of the mechanical shutter is normal.
- Auxiliary gas is output high-pressure gas, pay attention to the surrounding environment and personal safety when using the gas.
- Switching sequence:
- Start-up: Open air, water-cooled unit, cold dryer, air compressor, main engine, and generator should be baked for 10 minutes if conditions permit.
- Shutdown: First press the high pressure, then the low pressure, and turn off the generator after the turbine stops rotating without sound. Followed by the water-cooled unit, air compressor, gas, cold dryer, machine power off can be left behind, and finally turn off the voltage stabilizer cabinet.
A laser metal cutter can range in price from a few thousand to as much as ten thousand dollars. Therefore, it is never going to be an affordable option to pick up. To save your budget, you may think about picking up an affordable option, but do it only when you have enough knowledge about which one will be a good option and which one will not. In that case, choosing from a trusted manufacturer that will ensure good after-purchase support will be a better option to buy from. In case you face any difficulties after making the purchase, you will have the option to ask for help or support.
At the same time, check for all the technical issues that will allow the machine to work functionally well. In that case, the software should be compatible with the devices to which you will connect the machine.
Last but not the least, always choose a user-friendly interface so that you do not have to face any issues with the machine.
Hymson Laser: A Reliable Option
Yes, we are talking about our own brand and it is because we trust in ourselves. With tremendous and excellent customer support and after-purchase response, we work at making our customers happy to all extent. Choose your next cutter from Hymson Laser and we can bet you will thank yourself later.