Laser Cutting vs CNC – North Georgia Heat Treat Answers
When you are looking to have metals parts or other materials cut, you might wonder if you should have a company laser cut it or use a CNC mill. There are advantages to laser cutting method vs CNC:
- Little to no post processing (Flame Polished Edges)
- Processing Costs
One of the biggest advantages that a laser has over a CNC Mill is that there is little to no post processing needed after cutting out a product from its parent material. The laser can create a flame polished edge in acrylic for example which would be a cost intensive manual process if the same product was cut on a CNC Mill. The laser is also able to create a higher quality, uniform cut around the product, even in hard to reach places or on small intricate parts, which hand polishing could not achieve. The CNC Mill post processing is time intensive, which means a product will have a higher production cost, resulting in lower profits.
Laser vs CNC Mill – Edge
The second advantage that a laser cutter has over a CNC Mill is the precision of the cut. A laser can cut a radius of 0.1mm / 0.004 inches and up, where typically a CNC Mill can only cut down to 2mm / 0.08 inches and up. This allows for sharper and more exact curves and corners and in turn create a higher precision piece. A laser also has a very small kerf value compared to a CNC Mill which means parts can be very closely nested together saving material and lowering overall costs.
Speed is A Factor – Laser vs CNC Mill Precision
A laser is at least twice as fast as a CNC Mill for most applications. A laser is able to cut thick material in one pass, where as a CNC Mill will need to do multiple passes to cut the same thickness. There is also no physical restraints put on the material with a laser. Providing the work piece is flat, the lasers repeatability and reliability to create exact copies each and every time, is much higher than that of a CNC Mill.
The last advantage that the laser has over the CNC Mill is of course the process costs associated with the use of the machine. As we touched on before, the CNC Mill has many more steps involved in order to create a final product. A CNC Mill requires the use of a clamp the to hold the piece, clean, and polish the item before getting to the end product. A laser will bypass these steps. A laser has the ability to produce a final product without any post processing or clamping. All of these steps saved are passed on savings to the customer.
Sometimes You Need Something Else
There are still scenarios where a CNC Mill is the correct machine for certain materials and uses. North Georgia Heat Treat offers both CNC Milling and Laser Cutting Services. We also offer Heat Treating, and Waterjet Cutting. Call us at 855-956-4837 to discuss what application is right for the part you are needing.