Frequently Asked Questions
Metal Laser Cutting
Questions about our laser cutting services
Questions about laser cutting technology
Do you offer additional post operations?
Aside from bending, we do not. We do recognize that there are common needs beyond cutting, and we hope to offer additional services in the future.
What are your lead-times for laser-cut metal parts?
Our standard lead-time is 5 business days, but there are options during checkout for lead-times as short as same day. We guarantee whatever lead-time you select during checkout, but we'll ship your parts early when we can.
I have a picture I want cut - can you make a DXF for me?
Not at this time. Because we handle a large number of orders every day, we don't have time and resources to prepare custom artwork for laser-cutting. Stay tuned, though! We may have something for you in the near future.
What materials and thicknesses can you laser cut?
We laser-cut most grades and alloys of carbon steel, stainless, aluminum, copper, and brass. We also cut alloy steels like spring steel and tool steels. Carbon steel, stainless, and aluminum maximum thickness is 1.0". Copper and brass can be cut up to 1/4" thick.
For more details, check out our capabilities page.
What is the difference between laser cutting and plasma cutting?
Briefly - a laser cutter produces parts that are more accurate (tighter tolerance) with less dross and burr on the part immediately after the cut. Laser cutting, whether fiber or CO2, is almost always superior to plasma cutting in every way that matters, including cut quality, cut speed, and accuracy.
How does laser cutting compare to water-jet?
A water jet can cut through literally anything, but it cuts much slower, especially on thinner materials. Usually, a laser is preferable for production jobs, and it is often better from a cost perspective for prototypes. A water-jet has a unique edge surface finish - as if the part edge were sandblasted - and quality can vary depending on cut speed. A water-jet also doesn't inject heat into a part like a laser does, so it may be preferable in cases where added heat affects material properties.
What is best? Laser, water-jet, or plasma?
It depends on what you are looking for - if part quality right off the machine matters, laser or water-jet is the way to go. Plasma cutters are cheap, so if you are looking for your own machine for personal projects, that's your best bet. A laser will produce parts up to 1/4" thick, and maybe thicker, at a better price compared to a water jet.
How does a fiber laser compare to a CO2 laser?
Fiber lasers offer improved material flexibility when cutting metal, allowing laser-cutting brass and copper, and better performance when cutting aluminum. On the other hand, the wavelength of a fiber laser doesn't handle wood, plastic, or composites very well. A fiber laser is therefore often the best choice for cutting metal, but CO2 is still the best option for cutting other materials.
Older fiber lasers didn't cut thick material as well as CO2 lasers, primarily because of the small beam width on a fiber laser compared to CO2. The thicker beam on a CO2 laser allowed more assist gas (oxygen, nitrogen, or argon) to penetrate the material and improve finish quality. More modern fiber lasers have mechanisms for increasing the beam width and removing that advantage. On Trumpf fiber lasers, this is called "BrightLine."
The industry is moving away from CO2 lasers and toward fiber in general.