Laser cutting gets a lot of attention for its ability to create precise and intricate cuts at a relatively low cost. That’s why it’s the one capability customers always request. Despite these benefits, laser cutting isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution.
What is laser cutting?
Laser cutting is used in place of metal blades or a custom metal die, using heat from laser light to cut into the material. The shape and dimensions are programmed into a computer, and software guides the movement of the beam, so ABLE can achieve the right shape and the right size, every time.
Why laser cutting?
Laser cutting has many benefits in the creation of many types of converted parts.
- Laser cutting provides an ideal solution for creating intricate shapes, cutouts and small parts from a variety of materials, including foam, pressure sensitive adhesive and films.
- Laser cutting is highly repeatable, because there are no physical parts to maintain and adjust. With laser cutting, you get the same results every time, down to the smallest detail. In the long run, laser cutting reduces wasted material.
- Laser die cutting requires less lead time before production. Because the design is programmed into the machine (versus creating a custom metal part), we can get started cutting your converter or prototype with a short lead time.
- Design flexibility also makes laser die cutting an appealing option. The design is controlled by computer software, so design tweaks and changes can happen even on short notice. It’s easy to pivot to a new option.
- Laser cutting is well-suited for prototyping, along with short- to medium-volume production runs. Because the design can be uploaded right into the computer, laser die cutting greatly streamlines product testing and development.
Die cut vs. laser cutting: what’s the difference?
Now that you know the advantages of laser cutting, is it always the best option? Despite its accuracy and tech forward features, laser cutting doesn’t always deliver the best results. Here are some of the reasons that would make die cut and rotary cut better options for your converter project.
- Laser-cut foams can melt and burn during production, resulting in highly damaged edges, the emission of toxic fumes, and creating messes and drips. Choosing laser cutting requires extensive knowledge of materials and their chemical properties, which ABLE can provide when designing the production process for your converter.
- If edges are critical to the quality and performance of your converter part, die and rotary cutting can be the better options. Lasers can leave heat damage along the edges, which is called heat affected zone. If you need a crisp, uniform edge, free of heat-affected zones, then rotary or die cuts are best bets.
- Laser cutting is best suited to thin layers, but can’t slice though thicker foams along with multiple layers of material. For deeper cuts, rotary and die-cutting come out as the winners.
- Though laser cutting saves on lead time with no custom die parts to make, the manufacturing process itself can be slower than that of die or rotary methods. For a high-volume production, rotary and die-cutting are more cost-effective in the long run.