Laser cutting also has an arguable advantage over punching when it comes to part quality, particularly if tool marks or surface scratches are an issue in your application. Waterjet cutting utilizes a high-pressure stream of water, often in conjunction with an abrasive. Its capital cost is higher than plasma, but lower than laser, however it also has the highest operating cost of all three. Waterjet is capable of 3D material cutting as well as cutting thicker materials, while laser cutting wins out on cutting speed—though this can be offset in multi-jet systems.
Relative edge quality and precision are close, but waterjet has a slight advantage in both. The range is typically 30 microns to microns, depending on laser power, optical setup and your process. That needs to be taken into account in the design of the cut. Another common mistake concerns supporting small parts using micro-joints, which is called tabbing:. This is due, in part, to the legacy of CO 2 systems, but the rapid advancements in fiber laser technology have encompassed more than just laser beam power. Another way of looking at this point is that applications involving large parts or parts with less intricate features can take advantage of high speed laser cutting, since acceleration and deceleration will be less of a factor.
High-power lasers expand your options not only for throughput but also the quality and repeatability of the cutting process. This is because higher power lasers enable you to ignore the small deviations in material and the cutting system that would need to be accounted and adjusted for in a lower power laser.
If you have a 2kW or 3kW laser for the same material, not only can you cut faster, but the jobs can be run with less expertise. Unlike the Toronto Maple Leafs, industrial laser cutting has seen significant victories since Just as CNC laser cutters went from niche applications to dominating the cutting machine market, so did fiber laser rise from a niche technology to similarly dominate the laser cutting machine market.
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