Tips for Choosing the Right Laser Cutter

Purchasing a new laser cutter is a serious investment. Whether the machine will be used only for hobby applications in the garage or it’s going to play an important role in a small business’s manufacturing process, it’s important to choose the right model. Read on to find some tips that will make it easier for anyone from hobbyists and craftsmen to industrial business owners to find the right laser cutter to suit the unique application and goals.

Choose the Right Manufacturer

Before looking at different laser cutters, take the time to find a reputable manufacturer that is accredited by the BBB and renowned for providing excellent customer service. Choose a company that specializes exclusively in manufacturing laser cutters, engravers, and other specialized equipment, and don’t underestimate the importance of tech support. Most people keep their laser machines for a decade or longer, and chances are good that in that time, they’ll need help with equipment maintenance and repairs.

Define the Applications

Deciding between a fiber laser cutter and a CO2 laser cutter is the next big step to take, but it’s easy to make this choice once buyers understand their intended applications. Fiber laser cutters are excellent for making fast, precision cuts during metalworking, but their applications are more limited since they’re very powerful. CO2 laser cutters are slightly less powerful, but they’re far more versatile and can be used to cut just about anything other than reflective metals.

Consider Power Requirements

Stronger lasers tend to draw more power, but they can also cut deeper. The lowest-wattage laser cutters draw just 5W of power, but they’re used primarily for etching rather than actually cutting through materials. A 40W laser cutter will offer far more flexibility since it can cut through most materials up to a thickness of ¼”. The most powerful laser cutters draw 90W of power or more. They’re most suitable for industrial uses and can cut through materials up to ½” in thickness.

Think About Material Handling

Check the speeds of different laser cutters before purchasing one to make sure material handling will not become an issue. Fiber laser cutters work incredibly fast, which can cause complications when it comes to material handling. This might not be an issue for home hobbyists and small business owners, but for larger manufacturers, the increase in efficiency comes at a cost. To operate the laser at maximum efficiency, there will need to be a system in place for material handling that accounts for the speed of the machine and the total working hours in an ordinary business day.

Cost and Financing

Laser cutters aren’t cheap. CO2 lasers tend to be more affordable than fiber lasers, but even they require a substantial investment at anything but a hobby scale. Look for a manufacturer that provides competitive pricing, but don’t make the final decision based on price points alone. It makes more sense to obtain financing for a better-quality machine that will last longer and require less-frequent maintenance than it does to buy a cheap model that breaks down all the time.

The Bottom Line

Choosing a laser cutter can be a challenge. Business owners and hobbyists who are unsure of their needs are best off finding a reputable manufacturer that sells a variety of laser machines and getting in contact with a sales representative. That way, they’ll have an assurance they are investing in the right laser cutters to suit their needs.