Debunking Laser Cutting Myths in Metal Fabrication

June 5, 2023

Although there are many conventional methods for cutting metal, more fabrication shops have turned to laser cutting because of its high safety, maximum efficiency and superior accuracy. While laser cutting is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every aspect of metalworking, its many benefits make it ideal for a comprehensive product and application range.

Laser cutting uses programmable software to guide a laser head in the cutting process. The laser head generates a high-powered beam to deliver a burning or melting effect without contacting the metal directly, resulting in a clean edge and an excellent surface finish. Because the laser beam’s heat zone is so small, the cooling process is fast with minimal warping.

Laser cutters can perform accurate cuts and produce complex patterns in numerous metal types, including mild steel, stainless steel and various non-ferrous metals. Many applications rely on the efficiency and power of laser cutting to produce high-performance parts, from automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing to operations in utility and energy.

Myths Associated With Laser Cutting

Despite all these advantages, some manufacturing facilities remain hesitant to add a laser-cutting machine to their production floor. Because many people in the industry have limited experience with laser cutting or do not understand how the process works, misconceptions arise. Some examples of the myths still floating around the industry include:

  1. Laser cutting is a new technology.
  2. Laser-cutting machines are difficult to operate.
  3. Laser beams burn materials.
  4. Lasers can only cut thin substrates.

Facts to Prove Myths Wrong

Facts disproving the above myths include:

  1. History: The first laser cutters surfaced in the early 1960s and started gaining ground when Bell Labs began using thermal cutting techniques. In 1965, the Western Engineering Research Center in Buffalo, New York, started utilizing laser cutters to drill die holes to extrude metal wire. In 1969, Boeing became the first company to use gas laser cutting commercially.
  2. Complexity: Many laser cutters are easier to use than most conventional mechanical cutting systems. The programmed software controls the laser’s movement, and some cutting systems even self-adjust to accommodate a material’s thickness.
  3. Burning: No burning or surface-charring occurs because the beam does not directly touch the substrate. A laser cut often seals the edge, sometimes eliminating the need for a secondary process.
  4. Thicknesses: Many laser cutters can cut through metals with varying thicknesses, including stainless steel up to ¾ of an inch. In addition, innovative techniques — like Summit Steel’s three-dimensional tube laser cutting — can cut various features in larger objects like tubes, angles, channels and beams.


Contact Summit Steel to Learn More

If you want to learn more about how our laser-cutting services can benefit your operation, the experts at Summit Steel can assist you. Since 1992, we have been helping businesses improve quality, maximize production speed and reduce lead times with state-of-the-art metal fabrication capabilities. Call us at 610-981-1423 or contact us online today for more information.

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