Posted on May 23, 2024

The Laser Cutter: Our Best Friend in Metal Fabrication

laser cutter being used on sheet metal

We’ve been fabricating and crafting for ages. From the days of creating arrowheads and knives from stone, humanity has been honing the art of creation. We’ve gotten so good at it that we can now fabricate buildings and vehicles in a short time. But how have we reached this level of efficiency? There are plenty of machines and processes that have contributed to this innovation, but there’s one that’s newer in the grand scheme of things. It’s a technologically impressive bit of tech that can fabricate metal and other materials with ease and precision: the laser cutter.

Within such a bustling society, efficiency is vital to progress. Time, precision, and resource management are crucial factors that can make or break projects. These are all improved by the existence of laser cutting technology. Thanks to its production capabilities and reduced waste, it’s a mainstay in the manufacturing industry, and it’s only getting better.

Evolution of Laser Cutting Technology

The laser cutter has been around in some form or another since 1965 when it was invented by physicist Kumar Patel. Since then, it’s been iterated upon again and again to become what it is today. The precision and cutting power we enjoy wasn’t there at the beginning. Over time, though, it’s become more and more reliable. Power, beam quality, and enhanced control systems have been fine-tuned to allow the technology to become increasingly versatile. While we once could only cut through thin materials that had relatively low durability, lasers can now cut through strong metals with ease and precision.

Key Innovations in Laser Cutting

While these machines originally used the most rudimentary lasers, their modern versions use CO2, fiber, and diode lasers. They all offer different advantages including higher power output, improved energy usage, and better beam quality.

In addition, the ability to automate the process has helped efficiency skyrocket. While early laser cutter models were manually operated, the CNC (computer numerical control) systems of today take that necessity out of the equation, speeding up the process at the same time. Robotic arms and sensor technology enable intricate designs to be cut with little to no human intervention.

As if all of that wasn’t impressive enough, there’s a more recent technology that’s improving laser cutting even more: artificial intelligence. Its ability to learn algorithms has further optimized the laser cutting process by analyzing data in real time and adjusting parameters to fix errors.

Impact on Custom Metal Fabrication Efficiency

We’ve already covered plenty of benefits laser cutting brings to the table, but the most impactful one is its time-saving perk. Because of the consistent efficiency and speed presented by these machines, the human aspect of custom metal fabrication can be largely focused on other tasks the machines can’t perform nearly as well. Once a task is set up in the computer and the operator gets it going, they’re free to check other items off of their to-do list while their laser cutter produces large amounts of product on its own.

When a human is cutting, accuracy is down to centimeters and millimeters. But when the job is up to a good machine, it’s measured in microns. That’s how precise they are! This reduces the frequency of errors, meaning fewer redos and, more importantly, less waste! The ability to optimize cutting paths for maximum efficiency on a sheet of metal or other material means very little gets thrown out. This is especially useful when dealing with a high volume job. Without that efficiency, the wasted material would add up quickly.

Applications Across Industries

If you think fabricators use this tech for a singular purpose, think again. One reason laser cutters are so versatile is their ability to produce across several industries.

Automotive and Aerospace

Vehicles of all sorts—from cars to space shuttles—require a high level of precision when being made. With such a wide range of shapes that need to come together and create the final product, laser cutting is one of the best options. From body panels to engine parts, it ensures top quality no matter the complexity.

Electronics Manufacturing

Precise components are required in order for electronics to work properly. After all, there isn’t a huge margin of error in circuit boards and microelectronics. And if the recent chip shortage is any indication, the world needs a lot of these parts. That level of production is only possible with high-efficiency machines.

Architecture and Design

Architects and designers rely on laser cutters to create complex models, prototypes, and decorations. A laser’s ability to cut through several layers of material—like wood, acrylic, and metal—allows for versatile solutions with minimal effort from the operators.

Get Ready to Fabricate!

It’s tough to deny that the laser cutter has had a massive impact on the world of manufacturing and fabrication. It’s increased efficiency and reduced waste across multiple industries, and new technology like AI is always improving it further.

If you’re on the lookout for increased efficiency in your metal fabrication projects, EDCO Fabrication is up to the challenge. Let’s work together to upgrade your output!