While many steel operators prefer laser cutting sheet metal, punch pressing (or turret punching) offers efficacy in the right application. Thickness, number of holes, contours and formed areas will factor into the decision about which technology to use.
Both punching and laser cutting process sheet metal into parts by cutting the material. This is how each process works:
Turret punching: Punching pushes the metal between the upper tool (punch) and lower tool (die), which can either be completed manually or CNC, which increases its accuracy. Punch presses can also make louvers and extruded holes, as well as stamp part numbers or logos.
Laser cutting: Laser cutters use high powered beams that can be used to cut sheet metal. The beam cuts through the metal, then a stream of gas blows through the cut area to form the desired cutout. Generally, the laser beam is focused through a lens and can produce a kerf as narrow as 0.10mm, depending on the material thickness. A laser cutter uses CNC technology to automate the process, ensure accuracy and reduce wastage.
Laser Cutting vs. Punching
While we may be a bit biased here at ShapeCUT, we believe laser cutting is far superior to punching, especially for complex projects. Turret punching eliminates the need for a secondary operation and is productive with around 1000 hits per minute, it’s not comparable to a laser cutter which can reach speeds of 10,000 hits per minute.
Turret punching also requires greater clearance between parts meaning there is increased waste and the maximum thickness of 0.8cm
Laser cutting has made significant advancements in recent years and it remains the more flexible method of cutting steel. Its principle advantage over mechanical cutting is the sheer volume that it can produce. Laser cutting reduces the risk of tool marks and surface scratches due to its lack of physical contact or use of force. High processing speed results in a minimal heat affected zone, ensuring very low rates of workpiece distortion.
At ShapeCUT we work with laser cutting machines capable of any size project you can imagine, and enjoy the technical challenge of making your dreams a reality. Talk to the team at ShapeCUT today to find out more.