The Value Proposition of Laser Cutters in Metal Fabrication

The advent of advanced laser technology, capable of cutting through a variety of metals with remarkable speed and precision, has rendered metal laser cutters an invaluable asset for businesses seeking to augment their production capacity. …

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The advent of advanced laser technology, capable of cutting through a variety of metals with remarkable speed and precision, has rendered metal laser cutters an invaluable asset for businesses seeking to augment their production capacity. These machines not only facilitate an increase in output rates but also streamline manufacturing processes, leading to enhanced profitability. They offer substantial support to professional business owners, hobbyists, and part-time designers alike.

If you are contemplating the acquisition of a new laser metal cutter for your professional or creative pursuits, this article serves as a comprehensive guide to aid you in making an informed decision.

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The Future of Laser Metal Cutting

The domain of laser metal cutting technology is an exhilarating and rapidly evolving field, poised to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. As new breakthroughs in laser technology surface, metal laser cutters are expected to become increasingly faster, more accurate, and more versatile. Future developments may encompass 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 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 a type of computer numerical controlled automated metal cutting system used for 2D/3D cut ideas & projects capable of processing 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. The 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 molten metal, achieving the objective of metal cutting. This demonstrates that laser metal cutting is fundamentally different from 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, and the part temperature rises sharply. After reaching the boiling point, 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 of 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, precisioncomponents, 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 weight in industrial manufacturing, many metals, regardless of their hardness, can be cut without deformation. Of course, for high-reflectivity materials such as gold, silver, copper and aluminum alloys, they are also good heat transfer conductors, so laser cutting is 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, 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.

Types of Laser Cutters for Metal

Metal laser cutters are categorized into fiber lasers and CO2 lasers for metal according to the laser source. Laser metal cutters are divided into flatbed sheet metal laser cutters, laser tube cutters, and all-in-one hybrid combo laser metal cutting machines for both sheet metals and metal pipes according to the applications.

Choosing the Best Laser Cutter for Metal

If you are working in the metal fabrication business, you may need a laser metal cutter. Review the three types of automatic metal cutting tools to fit your needs & budget:

  1. Sheet metal cutters.
  2. Laser tube cutters.
  3. Dual-purpose laser cutters for sheet metals and metal tubes.

Cost of a Metal Laser Cutter

Once you have an idea to buy a cheap laser cutter for metal from a local store, you may wonder how to get a fair price? According to different sources, powers, software, driving system, control system, spare parts, other hardware and software.

The average total cost of a metal laser cutter is $26,800.00 in the world according to data from Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, and Hymson Laser.

A fiber laser metal cutting machine cost is from $24,000.00 to $279,000.00. A CO2 laser metal cutting machine cost is from $8,000 to $20,000.00.

Most entry-level sheet metal laser cutters are priced anywhere from $8,000.00 with lower-power 300W CO2 laser tube for hobbyist, enthusiast, home use, and small business, while some high-end precision sheet metal cutting machines can be as expensive as 279,000.00 with higher-power 12000W IPG fiber laser source for commercial use. A professional automatic laser tube cutter 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 from $42,500.00 to $116,000.00 for dual-purpose metal fabrication with CNC controller in industrial manufacturing.

If you want to buy overseas, the fee of tax, customs clearance and shipping costs should be included in the final price.

Technical Parameters – Specifications

Brand Hymson Laser

Model ST-FC6040, ST-FC1390, ST-FC1325, ST-FC2060, ST-FC3015, ST-FC4020, STJ1325M, STJ1390M, STJ1610M, ST-18R

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

Max Cutting 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

Deciphering the Cutting Capacity of Laser Metal Cutters

Laser metal cutters, with their ability to slice through various thicknesses of diverse metal types and alloys, are an indispensable tool in the realm of metal fabrication. Each laser source, be it a CO2 laser or a fiber laser, possesses unique strengths and limitations when it comes to metal cutting. Even within the same laser source, different power supplies can yield varying maximum metal cutting thicknesses. Furthermore, for a given power level, different brands of generators can exhibit distinct performances in terms of metal cutting thickness, precision, and speed.

  • A 300-watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 3mm thick and carbon steel up to 4mm thick.
  • A 1000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 10mm thick, stainless steel up to 5mm, and aluminum and copper up to 3mm.
  • A 1500-watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 6mm, carbon steel up to 16mm thick, and aluminum and copper up to 5mm.
  • A 2000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 16mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 8mm, and brass & copper up to 6mm.
  • A 3000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 20mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 10mm, and brass & copper up to 8mm.
  • A 4000-watt power supply can cut stainless steel up to 12mm, carbon steel up to 22mm thick, aluminum up to 14mm, and copper & brass up to 10mm.
  • A 6000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 25mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 16mm, and copper & brass up to 10mm.
  • An 8000-watt power supply can cut stainless steel and aluminum up to 25mm, carbon steel up to 30mm thick, and brass & copper up to 12mm.
  • A 12,000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum up to 50mm thick, and copper & brass up to 20mm thick.
  • A 15,000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel and stainless steel up to 60mm thick, aluminum up to 50mm, and copper & brass up to 30mm.
  • A 20,000-watt power supply can cut carbon steel up to 70mm thick, stainless steel and aluminum up to 80mm, and brass & copper up to 70mm.

The Merits of Laser Metal Cutting Machines

Laser metal cutters offer a plethora of advantages, including superior beam quality, high efficiency, impressive speed, easy operation, low cost, minimal maintenance, stable running, and super flexible optical effects. These features make them ideally suited to meet the demands of flexible industrial manufacturing.

  • Precision and Stability: Laser metal cutters employ a heavy-duty bed frame, high-precision ball screw transmission mechanism, and an optimized CNC system control. These features ensure the processing of precision parts, stable dynamic performance, and long-term operation.
  • Quality Cutting Section: The use of a mechanical follow-up cutting head system allows the cutting head to follow the height of the plate, maintaining the position of the cutting point, and ensuring a smooth cutting seam.
  • High Performance: For thin sheet metal cutting, laser metal cutters can replace CO2 laser machines, CNC punching machines, and shearing machines. The cost of a laser metal cutting machine is roughly equivalent to 1/4 of a CO2 laser machine and 1/2 of a CNC punching machine.
  • Cost-Effective and Efficient: Laser metal cutters offer high cutting speed and low usage cost. They require no consumables, are environmentally friendly, and have a long service life.
  • User-Friendly: Whether you are a novice or a professional, young or old, you can easily operate a laser metal cutter.

Procuring an Affordable Laser Cutter for Metal Online

The process of purchasing an affordable laser metal cutter, whether for local pickup or global shipping, can be a daunting task. However, by following the eight steps outlined below, you can streamline your shopping experience.

  1. Request a Consultation: Consult with our sales manager online. After understanding your requirements, we will recommend the most suitable CO2 or fiber laser metal cutting machine for you.
  2. Receive a Free Quotation: Based on your consultation, we will provide a detailed quotation. You will receive the best machine specifications and an affordable price within your budget.
  3. Sign a Contract: Both parties carefully evaluate and discuss all the details (technical parameters, specifications, and business terms) of the order to avoid any misunderstandings. Once you have no doubts, we will send you the PI (Proforma Invoice), and then we will sign a contract with you.
  4. Build Your Machine: Upon receiving your signed sales contract and deposit, we will arrange for the manufacturing of your CNC laser metal cutter machine. We will update you with the latest news about the building process.
  5. Inspection: The entire production procedure will be under regular inspection and strict quality control. The complete machine will be inspected to ensure they can work very well before leaving the factory.
  6. Shipping: Shipping will commence as per the terms in the contract after your confirmation. You can request transport information at any time.
  7. Custom Clearance: We will supply and deliver all the necessary shipping documents to you to ensure a smooth customs clearance.
  8. Support & Service: We offer professional technical support and free customer service via Phone, Email, Skype, WhatsApp, Online Live Chat, and Remote Service. We also offer door-to-door service in some areas for all types of laser metal cutters.

Mastering the Art of Laser Metal Cutting

When operating a laser metal cutting machine, it’s crucial to pay attention to certain details and precautions. By mastering these skills, you can enhance the machine’s cutting efficiency.

  • Corner Melting: When decelerating to cut the corners of thin sheets, the laser can overheat and melt the corners. To maintain high-speed cutting and avoid overheating and melting of the steel plate when cutting the corner, a small radius is generated at the corner. This ensures good cutting quality, reduces cutting time, and improves manufacturing efficiency.
  • Part Spacing: When cutting thick plates and hot plates, the distance between parts should be large. This is because the heat of the thick plates and hot plates greatly affects the cutting process, making it 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, a transition line is often drawn at the beginning and end of the cutting to ensure the slits are well connected and prevent burns at the beginning and end points. These are called lead and tail lines respectively. The lead and tail lines are not important to the workpiece itself, so they should be placed outside the category of workpieces. Also, be careful not to set the leads at sharp corners and other places that are not easy to dissipate heat. The connection between the lead wire and the slit should adopt a circular arc transition as much as possible to make the mechanical movement stableand avoid burns caused by corner stop.
  • Co-Edging: Co-edging involves combining two or more parts into a combination, and co-edging a large number of regular graphics as much as possible. Co-edging cutting can greatly shorten the cutting time and save raw materials.
  • Part Collision: To increase production efficiency, some metal laser cutters operate 24 hours a day, using unmanned automatic loading and unloading devices. However, this can lead to collisions with the overturned parts after cutting, causing damage to the cutting head and interruption of manufacturing, leading to significant losses. When sorting, pay attention to the following three points:
    1. Choose a suitable cutting path to avoid the cut parts and reduce collisions.
    2. Plan the cutting route reasonably to reduce the cutting time.
    3. Automatically or manually combine multiple small parts with micro-connections. After cutting, the removed parts can easily disconnect the micro-connections.

Safety Rules & Precautions

While laser metal cutting offers high efficiency and precision, it’s crucial to ensure safety during operation. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Check Before Operation: 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 threaten life safety.
  • Handle with Care: Be careful not to let any part of the body touch the light path during cutting and debugging to avoid injury.
  • Energy Management: The magnitude of the laser current determines the energy level. However, when the current is greater than the allowable value, the energy will drop, and if the current exceeds the allowable value for a long time, it will greatly affect the service life.
  • Ambient Temperature: Ensure the ambient temperature is within the allowable range to prevent the equipment from overheating or the water from freezing.
  • Cooling Water Temperature: The temperature of the cooling water should be within the allowable range to prevent the laser energy efficiency from dropping or the water from freezing.
  • Ambient Humidity: Excessive humidity can cause high-voltage discharge, endangering personal safety and causing 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 burning out the machine’s electrical appliances and circuits due to excessive voltage, install a power regulator of more than 2000W.
  • Prohibited Usage: Do not operate the machine during severe weather such as thunder and lightning. Untrained operators are not allowed to operate the machine alone.

Harm to Human Body and Protective Measures

While laser metal cutting is a powerful tool, it can also pose risks to the human body. Here are some protective measures to consider:

  • Respiratory Tract Protection: The high temperature generated by the laser produces a large amount of dust, especially when processing some special metal materials. The generated dust contains some chemical components, which can harm the human body if inhaled. Therefore, 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: Laser metal cutters can damage the retina or cornea of the eye. To reduce the reflection or radiation of ultraviolet rays, darken the wall finish at the job site, install protective screens or curtains, wear protective dark-tintedeyes 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: Long-term exposure to a laser beam may cause skin burns or leave scars. For safety reasons, operators should 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

Regular maintenance is essential to achieve a better operating state of the metal laser cutter. Here are some maintenance tips:

  1. Keep the machine clean and tidy.
  2. 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.
  3. The daily slag discharge drag chain needs to be cleaned.
  4. Clean up the sticky matter on the filter screen of the air outlet in time to ensure the smooth flow of the ventilation duct.
  5. The cutting nozzle needs to be cleaned every 1 hour of operation, and replaced every 2-3 months.
  6. Clean the focusing lens, keep the lens surface free of residue, and replace it every 2-3 months.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Frequently inspect the working status of the voltage regulator to monitor whether the input and output voltages are normal.
  10. Monitor and check whether the switch of the mechanical shutter is normal.
  11. Auxiliary gas is output high-pressure gas, pay attention to the surrounding environment and personal safety when using the gas.
  12. 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.

Buyer’s Guide

Laser metal cutters 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 customershappy to all extent. Choose your next cutter from Hymson Laser and we can bet you will thank yourself later.

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