Is laser cutting speed important?

The speed that a laser can cut is important to laser cutting subcontractors such as GF Laser. However, there are many other factors that we considered when we undertook a recent study looking at how to improve lead times.

Scheduling System

There are many varied scheduling systems available for manufacturing, ranging from the very simple to the very expensive that also encompass MRP / ERP functions. At GF Laser we operate a fairly simple cloud based system, however, it’s simplicity means that it is very user friendly and has been readily adopted by laser operators as it makes their job much easier. We have recently expanded the use of this system to incorporate quality checks and it has allowed us to remove a number of paper forms. All this means that they can set up, laser cut and complete a job quicker than before.

Machine Load / Unload Effects on Laser Cutting Speed

With the latest Fiber lasers the speed of cutting is impressive. However, there are a number of other factors to consider that will affect the actual turnaround time of the job. For example, most laser cutting machines operate a twin bed system that allows you to unload one bed whilst the other bed is inside the laser busily cutting away. This is great, but for short cycle times operators are not able to unload the bed quickly enough so the laser stands idle anyway. This means that on certain jobs the speed benefits of using a fiber laser are negated. So, in certain jobs it’s fair to say that its how quickly the bed can be unloaded that is important not the speed of the laser.

Downstream Bottlenecks

The turnaround time of laser cutting is only as fast as the downstream operations. With a significant amount of the parts we cut going on to be folded on one of our Amada Press Breaks we have worked hard over the past few months to improve the capacity by buying extra tooling and putting on additional shifts. However, turnaround times will of course depend on how many other operations might be required and whether the lead times will roll up so that a 2 day laser turnaround is suddenly a 5 day turnaround once the press braking is included.

Quality

It’s all very well cutting fast but can your laser cutting supplier also cut well? Is the cut edge clean and are all the dimensions correct? The laser cut rate can often be increased by the operator but this can be at the risk of jeopardising cut and dimensional quality. At GF Laser we utilise our own Quality department that put in place the relevant processes and checks to make sure parts are up to standard. We don’t always get it right but we always look at quality first then speed second.

Laser prototyping service

So, laser cutting speed is of course important but simply making the laser cut faster will not necessarily improve lead times. There are lots of other factors to consider.

 

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