CNC Machine VS Laser Cutter

CNC Machine VS Laser Cutter

CNC Machine vs Laser Cutter, There are some principal reasons why you should choose a laser over a CNC Mill. The 4 basic reasons are;

  • Little to no post processing (Flame Polished Edges)
  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Processing Costs

This article will compare and contrast Laser vs CNC Mill and help clarify why you should buy a laser cutter.

The main benefit of a laser over CNC Mill is that there is not any post processing required after cutting out a product from its original material. The laser is capable of forming a flame polished edge in acrylic, which would be an expensive manual process if the same product was produced with CNC Mill. What is more, the laser can create a higher quality, uniform cut around the product (also in hard to reach places or on small intricate parts) which would be impossible with hand polishing system. The CNC Mill post processing is time consuming, meaning that a product will need more cost, iwhich in turn lead to lower profit margins.

Another advantage of a laser cutter is the precision of the cut. That is said, a trotec laser is capable of cutting a radius of 0.1mm / 0.004 inches and up, while typicall a CNC Mill can only cut down to 2mm / 0.08 inches and up. By this way, curves and corners will be precisely as designed and have a higher degree of precision. Moreover, a trotec laser has a very small kerf value when compared to a CNC Mill. This means that, parts can be very closely integrated together saving material and lowering costs.

How Does a Laser Cutter Work?

The main factor, which raises the rate of purchase, is the speed of Laser cutter. A trotec laser double faster as a router. It can cut thick material in one pass, while CNC Mill will need to do multiple passes to cut the same thickness. Moreover, a laser also does not need the work piece to be taken out considering the fact that there is no physical force applied to the material. By this way, the laser cutter makes the whole process quicker. The lasers can repeatability create exact copies each and every time, provided that the work piece is flat. This feature of the machine makes an outstanding and efficient work environment.

Numerical control (also computer numerical control, and commonly called CNC)

Last but not least, the price of the process cost of the laser compared to CNC Mill is inevitable to discuss. The CNC Mill has many more procedures involved so as to create a final product and thus, needs the user to clamp the work piece, clean and polish / post process the item before the final product is completed. A laser on the other hand, will skip these steps by having the ability to form a final product without getting into extra processes like post-processing or clamping. Even though it might not seem as important issue, it causes vital time and saves cost.

Table below illustrates the processing cost breakdowns with typical values, to help you easily see the costs involved in both methods of mass production.

CNC Machine vs Laser Cutter Table

Types of CostsCNC MillingLasering
Fixing material and vacuum preparation$7,000($20/h * 350h / p.a)$0
Edge Post Processing (Flame Polishing)$40,000($20/h * 2000h / p.a)$0
Remaining machine set-up time and machine cleaning$1,500($20/h * 75h / p.a)$1,500($20/h * 75h / p.a)
Filter Costs$0$4,800(120lbs active carbon)
Tool Head / Consumable cost$9,600
($48 * 200 heads p.a)
 TOTAL P.A.$58,100 p.a$7,300 p.a
Save 87.5%

It is obvious that there is a great difference in the cost between using a laser and a CNC Mill. This table depends on around basic acrylic cutting applications but the important thing you should consider is labor costs; hiring a part time employee at $20$30 hourly leads to unnecessary costs to do the work, which laser cutter can do by itself; creating a finished product, which saves on general expenses, rises profit margins and significantly reduces setup time.

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