When meeting with customers in the field or at many of the industry shows IPG attends, I am often asked about the return on investment they could expect to receive with a fiber laser cutting system like the LaserCube. These are valid questions, purchasing this type of machinery represents a significant investment that needs to demonstrate high returns. So I thought I would capture the facts that need to be considered before purchasing your next laser cutting machine.
Most modern cutters feature a high power fiber laser that features a much brighter laser beam than legacy laser sources of equal power, so matching the laser power with selection of bed-size, cutting speed and cut quality are primary considerations.
LaserCube 4x4 Flatbed Cutting Machine
In North America, clients who ran Kaizen events found that small parts were most effectively manufactured using a 1250 x 1250 mm format IPG LaserCube system. They determined that high speed, high accuracy machines offer better payback than either low cost or large format machines. The reasons for their conclusions might not be immediately obvious. Broadly, low cost machines perform more slowly at the required higher quality, while larger format machines that cut individual parts very quickly, may incur a delay in the time when those parts can be collected until the entire sheet has been cut. If downstream processing equipment is waiting for those parts, the idle equipment time becomes an additional cost for the manufacturing process.
1. A low cost laser cutter is typically made with a steel frame. When cutting small parts, these machines will typically run at a reduced speed to minimize the vibration and instability caused by the changing inertial motion of the system, reducing parts per hour. In many cases, the core accuracy of the system is insufficient for many high-precision application, leaving the machines to run lower-value parts.
2. A large format laser cutter is perfect for cutting larger parts, and most run at high speeds of several meters/minute. These systems also have the ability to cut small parts at high speed, with the premium capabilities of the large-format motion system being reflected in the system price. Ergonomic considerations for sheet loading requiring either mechanical aids or multiple operators further add to the larger facilities and running costs.
Designed for fast and reliable precision cutting
3. The IPG LaserCube addresses the challenges of minimizing overall production costs for companies that need to produce small parts in large quantities, particularly for bright metals, like specialty alloys: Stainless, Brass, Copper, Titanium and Aluminium. The LaserCube has a number of design features that provide a maximum, high-precision cutting speed, low facilities and operating costs, and ergonomics that allow a single operator to both load the machine, and access the cut parts much faster than they can be available from a large-format sheet.
In my next post, I plan on discussing the features and flexibility you should expect from your next cutting system. In the meantime if you have any questions or need additional information: