Sheet metal is a versatile material that can be used in a variety of manufactured goods. Before it is used in those goods, however, it needs to be cut to shape. Sometimes, these shapes must be extremely accurate with small tolerances in order to function properly within the finished product. There are three primary methods of precision cutting, laser cutting, plasma cutting, and water jet cutting. Other methods, like shearing or flame cutting, are cheaper but less precise, making them less ideal for certain applications. Here is a breakdown of the three most precise methods of parts cutting.
Laser cutting is the parts-cutting method that Edge Metalworks employs. As the name suggests, laser cutting uses a high-powered, focused laser beam to vaporize materials and provide clean cuts with a smooth finish. The laser is directed across the material by CNC (computer numerical control) to cut out the design of the part. Laser cutting is used in a variety of manufacturing industries, like electronics, medicine, aerospace, and automotive. What you’re able to cut with a laser machine depends on the power of the machine. Higher-powered lasers are able to cut through thicker material faster.
Plasma cutting is similar to laser cutting but uses a jet of ionized gas to melt and expel the material instead of a laser. The gas used is usually nitrogen, argon, or an argon & hydrogen mix. The jet nozzle has an electrode attached to create an electric arc between the nozzle and the sheet metal, in turn causing the plasma jet to form. Because plasma cutting requires an electrical connection to the sheet metal, you cannot plasma cut non-conductive or poorly-conductive materials. This method also uses CNC to cut the profile.
Water Jet Cutting
Water jet cutting uses a pressurized stream of water traveling at supersonic speed to cut through soft material. When an abrasive, like sand, is applied to the water, it is capable of cutting through hard metals. This method is best suited for thermally sensitive projects, as it doesn’t heat up the sheet metal. As with the other methods discussed above, water jet cutters use CNC to cut out their designs.
Order Laser Cut Parts Today
If you’re a manufacturer in the market for a new parts supplier, check out Edge Metalworks. We use the latest laser cutting technology to precisely cut your parts. We specialize in high-volume laser cutting and forming services. Contact us today to get started.