Metals by far were the largest key manufacturing material of the industrial revolution. While over time an incredibly large number of other material options have been introduced, metals still make up a large percentage of the material of choice today.
To utilize metals of all type, some process such as milling, drilling, and cutting remain very similar to those processes dating back over the decades. One of the most revolutionary of modern times is the introduction of laser processing. Lasers today can process metals measured in inches of thickness or as thin as foils. But in very high precision and critical applications such as hermetic sealing, lasers can be the best tool of choice for those materials typically under 2mm providing exceptional results.
With the advantage of the laser’s constant repeatability and consistency, there can be a significant cost reduction in the overall process. Eliminating tools that can dull, break or are consumed like electrodes, the non-contact advantage of laser energy offers a solution like no other.
In the realm of the thinner gages of metals, the process of high precision drilling, cutting, welding, and etching need to be fully examined. Cuts may be so clean and undistorted that follow on processing may also be eliminated. Furthermore, the size of the cut or kerf can be as small as a few thousands of an inch, meaning virtually no scrap, or precision just not available with contact type tooling.
While the above may sound like the perfect panacea process for everyone, there are some factors that need to be considered in the decision. A few of the most significant may include:
- The proper cost justification, weighing in options such as initial costs, volume or variety of product processed, elimination of other costs such as conventional tooling, scrap or other labor.
- In applications like welding or fusing, since there is rarely a filler material added in the process, consistency of the incoming components is important and needs to be understood.
- In some cases there could be undesirable fumes generated that need to be understood and the best and most cost effective way to address.
- Overall cycle time and throughput. For example, lasers most likely will not replace high-speed stamping, but if flexibility is needed and
changeovertime is significant, the scales can tip accordingly.
The Automated Laser Team would like to help you make the right decision to keep you leading the competition. We can assist in the discussion, providing samples or any other facet of your specification where we can help.
Give us a call, we are looking forward to hearing from you!