Laser, plasma and waterjet cutting all over a more refined and consistent cut edge compared to mechanical cutting methods because there is no contact with the material, giving a more precise cut whose quality does not deteriorate.
Laser cutting is one of the most precise methods offered as a metal cutting service with a tolerance of just +/-0.25mm. It is well suited to cutting small and detailed components from thinner sheet metal. Laser cutting requires little clean up, a small amount of waste is produced in the form of dust, which is quickly removed. A few years ago laser cutting machines could not cut through shiny or reflective metals, but modern machines such as those used by Lasered Components, are able to with ease. The main disadvantage is that commercial metal laser cutters cannot cut the same thickness of metal as commercial waterjet or plasma cutters.
The most important advantage waterjet cutting boasts is its ability to cut material without generating heat. This means that metals can be cut without changing their properties or warping the components. Waterjet cutting is not suited to cutting small, thin parts due to the high level of force involved. Another disadvantage of waterjet cutting is that the abrasives mixed in the water require special disposal due to possible toxicity, which not only has environmental repercussions, but also adds to the running costs.
Plasma cutters have a smaller kerf* compared to laser machines, meaning less metal is lost during profiling. However, the tolerance of a plasma cutter is slightly less than that of a laser cutting machine. Plasma produces a cut edge that is as smooth as laser cut edge, but it is handicapped by a slight bevel of 4 – 5 degrees in the cut face.
Generally speaking, plasma cutting machines are more widely suited to cutting thick sheet and plate metal. The most modern plasma machines are capable of cutting through metal of a thickness of up to 150mm. In comparison, laser cutters are better suited to thinner sheet metals or more intricate components.