Laser cutting and trimming for stamped metal parts is a technology that has been in use for over three decades. In its infancy, the process was limited to simply 3 dimensional surfaces, and cutting speeds were quite slow. But continual advances in laser technology have transformed the laser cutting process and contract laser cutting industry in a remarkable manner.
With the evolution of the technology, contract laser cutting services providers are now able to purchase equipment capable of cutting thin gauge materials at speeds of 1600 inches per minute. Laser power has increased as well and allows for cutting materials that exceed thicknesses of ¼ inch for most materials.
Applications that are best suited to 5-axis laser cutting equipment are products with complex 3-dimensional shapes. These parts, which are usually deep drawn stampings often require both external and internal trimming and cutting. The cutting of complex shapes was often difficult to execute with older machines or sometimes had to be done manually so that 5-axis cutting not only saves time but can significantly improve quality.
There are quite a number of benefits to 5-axis laser cutting, all of which are evolving as laser technology has improved. One of the most notable is the significantly higher cutting speeds. Another is a reduction in tooling costs as hard tooling can be very costly and becomes almost prohibitive for low unit production. In more instances, we are seeing a hybrid approach where 5-axis CNC laser cutting equipment is combined with minimal hard tooled stamping operations to achieve a cost effective result.
A significant benefit of this technology is production flexibility. Parts with dimension that reach up to 45in. in width X 140in. length X 40in. in height can be accommodated in certain CNC laser cutting systems. Production quantities can range from a single part to runs of 10,000 pieces and more.
Time to market is often important too. Laser cutting not only eliminates hard tooling costs, but reduces long lead times since less tooling is required.
Finally, CNC laser cutting can often make it possible to replace multiple parts with a single more complex part and eliminate the need for multiple operations. This technology provides more flexibility in product design and reduces capital expenditures, all while reducing time to market.
For all of your 5-Axis Laser Cutting Services, contact ATACO Steel today!