The technology of laser cut sheet metal has developed greatly in the past 20 years or so. And now it has gradually become the mainstream cutting method in the sheet metal industry. While flame, waterjet, and plasma cutting machines are commonly used to cut sheets, laser cut metal sheet provides greater precision, efficiency, and better results.
This article will introduce you to the basics of laser cutting sheet metals. For example, the reasons, advantages, prices, etc. Besides, the article also makes a simple comparison between choosing a laser cutting service or owning a fiber laser cutting machine.
If you want to buy a fiber laser machine, you can also find best-selling models in the second half of the article.
Why choose laser cut sheet metal?
With the maturity of fiber laser technology, fiber laser cutting machine has become the mainstream in cutting metal plates. Especially metal sheets with a thin and medium thickness. This is inseparable from its unique cutting advantages.
There are several reasons for cutting sheet metal with laser:
Narrow cutting slits, smooth cutting edges
A fiber laser focuses on a small point on the metal sheet surface, which generates very little heat for the material. In addition, the laser beam moves on the material along a given route to cut the sheet, creating the cleanest cutting edge. Laser-cut sheets have a small heat-affected area. Combined with narrow cutting slits, the fiber laser cutter machine can cut complex, variable lines, curves, and graphics.
Laser cut metal sheet uses CNC technology and an advanced control system. It also adopts complex software to optimize the cutting paths and improve sheet utilization. This means that a fiber laser cutter machine can cut the same parts repeatedly and efficiently. Even for complex precision parts, the part differences between the same batch are very small.
Improved efficiency, high accuracy
The laser generation process does not require gases, instead, it uses air to assist the cutting process. The laser is transmitted by the optical fiber. So there is no need to adjust the optical path or use reflective lenses. As a result, laser cut sheet metal is more efficient and less expensive to maintain. Besides, high-quality cuts and edges mean that there is usually no need for secondary finishing or cleaning. The laser cutting sheet process also involves less wear and moving parts, and accuracy is generally better.
Maximize material utilization
Laser cut metal sheet has narrow cutting slits, a low level of mechanical deformation, tighter tolerances, and less material deformation. This means higher material utilization and lower part costs.
The video below shows the processing of laser cut stainless steel plates by a 4 kW fiber laser cutting machine. The thicknesses of the stainless steel plates are 8mm and 12mm respectively. Laser cut stainless steel has a wide range of applications in construction, parts, equipment manufacturing, decoration, and other industries.
How much does laser cut sheet metal cost?
Given the above advantages, laser cut sheet metal is quite cost-effective. But there is no definite answer to the specific cutting price. Here, I will explain the laser cutting sheet price in two cases.
The first case is the price of the metal sheet laser cutting service. As the name suggests, you choose another processing company to cut the sheet for you. Because you don't have a metal laser cutting machine. In this case, as with other manufacturing processes, the laser cutting sheet price varies due to several factors.
These factors include material type, thickness, quantity, shipping fees, etc. Generally, the harder the metal, the longer the cutting time. Besides, the thicker the sheet, the longer the cutting time. Correspondingly, the laser cutting sheet price is higher. The price of laser cutting steel sheet ranges from 13 to 20 US dollars on average. In addition, you also consider the freight if the laser cutting service provider is far away from you.
The second case is that you own a metal laser cutting machine. You’ll have a high upfront investment, including purchasing, transporting, installing, training, etc. An entry-level laser metal cutting machine of 1500x3000mm working size could cost over $15,000. This is relatively expensive. But the operating cost of a fiber laser machine is lower. Daily consumption of laser cut sheet metal probably includes electricity, gases, and wearing parts. In addition, fiber laser machine of different powers uses different auxiliary gases to cut different plates, and the prices are different too.
Laser cut sheet metal thickness
What is the maximum thickness that can be cut by a fiber laser cutting machine? The answer to this question is closely related to the type of material and the power of the fiber laser. Sheet metal materials mainly include carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, galvanized sheet, copper, brass, titanium, etc.
The commonly used fiber laser power is 1kW-4kW. Of course, there are also 6kW, 8kW, and ultra-high power 10kW, 12kW, 20kW, etc. The greater the laser power, the greater the cutting thickness of the same sheet. Besides, the thickness of different sheets that can be cut with the same laser power is different as well.
The table below shows the maximum laser cut sheet metal thickness cut by different laser powers.
|Material ||1000W ||1500W ||2000W ||4000W ||6000W |
|Carbon steel sheet thickness ||12mm ||14mm ||16mm ||25mm ||25mm |
|Stainless steel thickness ||4.5mm ||5mm ||10mm ||20mm ||20mm |
|Copper sheet thickness ||3mm ||4mm ||5.5mm ||12mm ||14mm |
|Aluminum sheet thickness ||3mm ||4mm ||5.5mm ||10mm ||12mm |
In addition, the thicker the material, the slower the cutting speed at the same power. It also takes a longer time. For carbon steel plates, using oxygen or nitrogen as auxiliary gas, the cutting speed also varies. The figure below shows the speed of a 4kW laser metal cutting machine cutting carbon steel plates of different thicknesses.
|Carbon steel thickness ||1mm ||2.0mm ||5.0mm ||8.0mm ||10.0mm |
|Cutting speed with oxygen (m/min) ||8.0-10.0 ||5.0-7.0 ||2.6-3.6 ||2.0-2.6 ||1.8-2.1 |
All figures in the tables above are theoretical values and are for reference only. The specific laser cut sheet metal thickness and cutting speed also depend on the specific usage.
Laser cut sheet metal application
A fiber laser cutting machine can cut a variety of metal sheets. For instance, stainless steel, carbon steel, alloy steel, silicon steel, spring steel, aluminum, aluminum alloy, galvanized sheet, aluminized zinc plate, copper, silver, gold, etc.
The application range of laser cutting sheet is also very wide. Laser cut sheet metal products include advertising signs, electrical cabinets, mechanical parts, kitchenware, automobiles, machinery, metal handicrafts, electrical parts, circuit boards, medical microelectronics, hardware, knives and measuring tools, and other products.
The video below shows a 4kW metal laser cutter cutting carbon steel plates of various thicknesses. As we can see from the video, the cutting speed varies when cutting carbon steel plates of different thicknesses. Choosing the appropriate fiber laser power helps you obtain better cutting results and efficiency. Laser cutting carbon steel is mostly used in parts and machinery manufacturing industries.
Metal laser cutting service or metal laser cutting machine?
Although the laser cutting technology has gradually matured, owning a metal laser cutting machine is still relatively expensive for enthusiasts. A cheap sheet metal laser cutting machine could also cost more than US$10,000. This is definitely not a small number.
Though you can also choose a CO2 laser machine over 130W to cut thin metal plates, it has many limitations. The CO2 laser cutter is relatively cheap, but it has a small cutting thickness, low efficiency, and high energy consumption. However, it has good performance in cutting most non-metal materials. Therefore, we do not recommend using a CO2 laser cutter to cut metal plates.
Then, is there a solution to get sheet metal products without buying an expensive fiber laser cutting machine? Sheet metal cutting service came into being. So, you can get the parts you want without expensive machine investment, technical training, etc. What you need to do is to communicate with the metal laser cutting service provider about the design, materials, quantity, processing fee, etc. If possible, it is best to get some samples of laser cut sheet products first from the service provider. Therefore, the sheet metal cutting service is suitable for people or small businesses who do not need sheet metal products frequently. And also the workshops that cannot afford a fiber laser machine temporarily.
But this is not for sheet metal processors or businesses that need laser cutting of sheets every day. For these businesses, buying a fiber laser cutter machine with the right power is the best choice. The fiber laser machine has a good cutting effect, less maintenance, high repeatability, and can achieve batch processing. If you want to provide sheet metal cutting service to other SMEs, a metal laser cutter machine is also a must-have machine.
Laser cut sheet metal customer feedback
A Croatian customer purchased a 1.5kW flatbed ELECNC 1530 fiber metal laser cutting machine. The customer was very worried about payment-related issues in the early stage. We fully understand this, especially paying a large sum of money to companies overseas. But in the process of communicating with us, the customer gradually let go of his doubts and paid the full amount quickly.
After receiving the fiber laser machine, our after-sales services staff also actively helped him solve problems such as installation, accessories, etc. The following video is the real feedback from this Croatian customer of the 1.5kW laser metal cutting machine. He was using our machine to cut a 6mm thick carbon steel and a 1.5mm thick hot-dip galvanized steel sheet.
The laser cut sheet metal video below is from a USA customer using an ELE 2kW metal laser cutting machine. Our customer uses the metal laser cutter to cut metal sheets of various thicknesses every day. The laser cut sheet metal work has brought him a lot of income.
Laser cut sheet metal machine recommendation
Blue Elephant has been committed to the research and development and production of CNC machines for more than 12 years. We can provide various laser cutting equipment and solutions for large, medium, and small enterprises. If you are hesitant to buy a laser metal cutting machine, please consider Blue Elephant first.
We offer various types of fiber laser cutting machines for cutting pipes, sheets, and both pipes and sheets. For large laser cut sheet metal enterprises, we also provide advanced automatic laser cutting sheet solutions.
- This type of metal laser cutter adopts the most basic open structure. So it is simple to operate and easy to learn. The processing process is clear at a glance, which is convenient to adjust the processing parameters at any time.
- The laser head has several automatic functions, such as automatic focusing, auto obstacle avoidance, auto edge detecting, and curved surface tracking. This can greatly reduce human intervention, which makes laser cutting sheet more precise.
- The machine structure is welded with thick wall carbon steel sheets, sturdy and durable. It will not deform even under long-term cutting work.
- We provide multiple working formats to cope with metal sheets of different sizes. For instance, 1500x3000mm, 1500x4000mm, 2000x4000mm, 2500x6000mm, etc.
- Fiber power is optional from 1-20kW depending on your cutting materials and thicknesses.
This video shows the working demonstration of an ELE 1530 fiber laser cutting machine cutting sheets. The fiber laser machine can cut stainless steel, carbon steel and other plates, and can also realize flying cutting.
- The power can be 1kW, 1.5kW, or 2kW. It can cut stainless steel, aluminum, and other coiled material sheets with a thickness of about 0.8-2.5mm.
- After uncoiling the coil, the sheet metal is flattened by a leveling device. This can eliminate the stress of the sheet metal during the flattening process. So the laser cut sheet metal is smoother and the cutting effect is better.
- The ultra-precision transmission system makes the conveying accuracy of the sheet metal controlled within ± 0.5mm. So it can cut metal sheets with higher precision and accuracy.
- The whole uncoiling, flattening, feeding, cutting, and unloading operations are automatic, reducing manpower and maximizing material utilization.
- It can realize continuous laser cut sheet metal operations, increasing machine usage rate.
Laser cut sheet metal has a wide range of applications in industrial production and daily life. The price of a laser cutting machine is still relatively expensive for small workshops. Therefore, if you do not need to cut sheets every day, you can choose a convenient laser cutting service. However, for parts manufacturers, laser cutting machines are necessary. Large sheet metal cutting companies can choose automated laser cutting sheet equipment to realize automated production.
If you are still hesitating about which model or what power to choose, please contact us directly. We will provide you with the most professional laser cut sheet metal solutions.