What is Flatbed Laser Cutting?
Flatbed laser cutting is a generic term used for the cutting of sheet steel. The term is used to differentiate between the other two types of laser cutting: Tube and 5 axis.
How Does it Work?
Flatbed laser cutting system suppliers such as Trumpf, Bystronic or Amada all use a very similar system for flatbed laser cutting. In simplified terms, the system will consist of:
- A source that generates a laser beam that travels to the cutting head of the laser.
- Two tables that have a series of slats on them, the sheet steel is then loaded onto the tables.
- The tables are exchanged so that cutting can take place on one table whilst the other table is unloaded by the operator. This process ensures Production is carried out as efficiently as possible, without exchange tables laser cutting would have to stop whilst the operator picked out the laser parts.
The above picture shows a flatbed laser cutting machine with material loaded ready to cut.
The above picture shows a variety of flatbed laser cut parts straight off the machine.
Why is it Used?
To generalise flatbed laser cutting is used because it is far cheaper and quicker than using a traditional cutting tool. Manufacturing has become reliant on laser cutting over the past 20 years and now you would be hard pressed to find an industry that does not use flatbed laser cutting. Some of the sectors where flatbed laser cutting is used include:
- White Goods
- Yellow Goods
Can Flatbed Laser Cutting be Fully Automated using Robots?
Although robots are not used as widely in laser cutting of flat material when compared to welding the system can be automated. This is usually achieved by a storage system that sits above or adjacent to the laser. The storage contains all the different material and then the laser loads the different material onto the laser bed using a suction system. The completed sheets are then lifted of the bed using a finger system that lifts the sheets off the bed ready for the parts to be checked and sorted.
How is Flatbed Laser Cutting Purchased?
There are many laser cutting sub-contractors based in the UK, most customers will buy the material from their laser cutting supplier as well although some do free issue the material. Generally the customer submits a drawing or CAD file to the laser cutting supplier. This is then priced by analysing the time it takes to cut the material along with the cost of the material itself.
The majority of sub-contract flatbed laser cutting companies offer a same or next day service.