Metal Stamping

Punch Press or Laser? Choices for Cutting Metal

Metal workers are tasked with manufacturing high quality, marketable products for their clients. Metal fabrication often starts with sheet metal materials that need to be cut and formed into usable metal parts that get moved along the supply chain to a point of final assembly. In metal working, there are different options for cutting, forming, coining, piercing, punching and bending the metal into the finished product your company needs. Several methods involve what is called a punch press, and another one entails the use of a high-powered industrial laser. Each uses a different process, achieves different end results and holds distinct advantages.

The Punch Press

Punch presses operate by first developing cutting dies, forming dies or progressive die sets. The die is the tool within the press used to cut and or form the metal, and a progressive die set is used in machines where coils of sheet metal material pass through several stations within a die set in one pass. Punching is a form of metal stamping, which is when a die is used to cut metal blanks with the aid of a die and a power press. The punch press is about speed and high-scale production, and is characterized by a number of features:

  • Force or power used to cut the metal
  • The tooling die and complexity of the die
  • Size of working area on the metal blank
  • Frame type

Progressive long run stamping, another fast and cost-effective method, uses a power punch press. The material (in coil form rather than pre-cut sheets) involves multiple cutting and forming stages through a single machine before the desired result is achieved. Precision metal stamping is a bit different; this process converts flat sheet metal into different commissioned shapes maintaining very tight tolerances.

Laser Cutting

A slightly more modern technique, industrial laser cutting services is about precision. A beam of heat energy sears into the metal and melts the excess away. This energy is often operated by CNC (computer numerical control). There are some particular projects for which laser cutting is best to use:

  • Tight intricate cuts
  • Multiple metal blanks all cut from the same plate of metal
  • Short run projects where tooling costs need to be avoided

There are many benefits to sheet metal laser cutting. For instance, laser cutting pre-painted metal without scarring the paint is possible with certain fiber lasers. There is also less chance of contaminating the material than with the cutting edge used in mechanical cutting.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Overall, both punch press cutting and laser cutting have certain advantages and disadvantages in the industry. Each are an asset to the task of metalworkers and their field, but in different ways. For more information, seek out a professional quote today.

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