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Thread: Laser For Large (5'x10') Sheet Metal cutting

  1. #1

    Laser For Large (5'x10') Sheet Metal cutting

    Hello All - I'm new to the Sawmill. Found it in an online search for more info on lasers for sheet metal work. If this is in the wrong section moderators - please move.

    I've seen Vytek, Kern, Trotec among others. I'm exploring options to bring my cutting in house (currently done by a sheet metal "job shop" using a production Trumpf laser (3-5kW) which is not in my price range unless I find a smoking deal on a used one). Honestly I'm not even ready to buy anything for a year or so, but trying to start doing my homework now. I want a 5' x 10' sheet capacity and would LIKE to be able to cut 3/16" or even 1/4" steel at times - but high majority of work in 18 ga steel.

    Not sure if this is even realistic for these "in between" machines? It seems like most users here are doing engraving with their lasers? Does anyone use regularly for sheet metal cutting? I plan to buy an American made machine if at all possible. I have looked at plasma and the cut quality is just not acceptable to me after using laser or waterjet for so many years. I may be forced to look at waterjet or a used industrial laser to do what I want? I'm wondering how speed of cut on these "mid-range" lasers compare to the larger machines. I know it's slower - but haven't got the specs yet to see just how much?

    Appreciate any user input or suggestions for options to consider
    thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I worked for a company years ago that had a large laser for cutting sheet metal. I never got close to it because I was the HVAC service guy, one of many and the machine was in the sheet metal dept. I know it was big and not cheap. I did get to work on the refrigeration cooling system of one used to cut stainless steel for bulk milk tanks and it was also large. I think your talking about hundreds of watts, and that is expensive. My little 40 watt just cuts out plastic .

    Set up right a CNC plasma cutter could do a pretty good job. I've seen the work they do and its acceptable.
    Last edited by Bill George; 10-06-2018 at 4:13 PM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , Ray Fine 20w Galvo Fiber laser (SOLD) , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router

  3. #3
    Welcome, I didn't see your thread earlier. We have a Mitsubishi 5kw at work, It is 3 years old. The cut quality is better than a sheared edge. The total cost was around 750k. I'm not sure how much you farm out, but its going to have to run 10 hours a day even if you buy a smaller 2.5 kw or not. You'll also need software to draw your pieces in. Be careful buying used. Technology changes frequently also make sure you will be able to get replacement parts and someone to fix it. A new vicon plasma is around 40k, the cut quality is very good and it is much easier to set up. I hope this helps.
    Stan

  4. #4
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    Actually I think I was mistaken in my first post, it had to be a plasma CNC, the edges looked perfect. Like I said properly adjusted and with the right person setting up the machine and cut its very doable.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , Ray Fine 20w Galvo Fiber laser (SOLD) , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router

  5. #5
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    You must have used a fibre laser Ron?
    Glad its my shop I am responsible for - I only have to make me happy.

  6. #6
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    I don't know how accurate or clean your cuts need to be, but carbide tooth metal cutting blades do a very impressive job and don't require a huge investment in tooling. We hardly ever go with plasma any more and do most cutting now with carbide tooth dry cutting blades. In most cases, the cut surface looks like it was cut on a milling machine. Gone are the days of cutting with torch or plasma and then grinding to size.

    Charley

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Lent View Post
    I don't know how accurate or clean your cuts need to be, but carbide tooth metal cutting blades do a very impressive job and don't require a huge investment in tooling. We hardly ever go with plasma any more and do most cutting now with carbide tooth dry cutting blades. In most cases, the cut surface looks like it was cut on a milling machine. Gone are the days of cutting with torch or plasma and then grinding to size.

    Charley
    Except when your doing curves and circles, artwork. Yes I use my abrasive cut off disk for a lot of cutting.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , Ray Fine 20w Galvo Fiber laser (SOLD) , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router

  8. #8
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    Abrasive disk cutting makes both pieces too hot to handle and produces huge amounts of hot sparks that go everywhere. The dry cut blades do not heat the metal significantly, so both pieces can be picked up with bare hands immediately after the cut is complete. Almost no sparks either, but don't get any of the chips down your neck because they are usually turning red - blue as they head your way. We use our two port-a-band saws or sabre saws with metal cutting blades for most curve cutting. They still leave a cleaner and more accurate cut than plasma or torch cutting.

    Charley

  9. #9
    thanks for the input everyone. I do not currently have a laser - but have been subbing out my cutting. I have tried CNC plasma - even high def CNC plasma - and the cut quality is not acceptable for what we are doing. The cuts have many intricate ins/outs so using a bandsaw or other standard cutting means is not feasible. I have CAD software to handle the file work - just looking at options for cutting. As I plan to workly mostly in metal - the fiber laser option is appealing as maintenance is way less and it will cut thicker material with same wattage. Anyone on here using a 1k-2k fiber laser for sheet metal cutting? Other ideas? Thank you!

  10. #10
    I have a 1kW fiber laser with 1300x2500mm cutting area on its way here from China. USD 36800 excluding shipping and duty. Included in the cost is a visit from a technician who will install the machine and train me on it. It will cut up to 10mm steel and 5-6mm stainless.
    G. Weike LG900N 110W RECI RDWorks V8
    G. Weike LG6040N 80W RECI Lasercut 5.3

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