Laser Cutting vs. Saw Cutting
In the past, saw cutting was the best and often only method for cutting material and doing intricate detail work for metal projects. Thanks to modern technology, laser cutting has become an equally beneficial alternative for many projects that require more precise lines and steadier movements.
Both cutting methods have a place in the world of fabrication, but which one is best for your project? Read on to learn what the differences are between laser cutting and saw cutting.
Laser cutting is a fast, efficient method of material fabrication for both simple cuts and finer detail work. Many businesses rely on laser cutters to create products and offer services. Common applications for laser cutting include:
- Computer parts
- Automotive parts
- Metal engraving
These machines use high-intensity laser lights to heat, shape and cut materials according to a pre-programmed design or dimension. Laser cutting also gives you the option to choose between 2D and 3D designs.
Laser cutters are compatible with many materials, including:
Advantages of Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is the ideal fabrication solution for many projects because of the following features:
- Its precision: Laser cutting offers superior precision and accuracy for detail work. It can often achieve sizes and designs that traditional saw cutting cannot. This leads to fewer costly errors and the ability to produce products that meet strict standards or requirements, like engine or computer parts.
- Its programming options: Perhaps the most significant benefit of using a laser cutter for your project is that it is programmable. A technician inputs the required information, shape and dimensions into the computer system, and the laser crafts it automatically — no steady hand required.
- Its hands-off creation: Computerized, hands-off creation means there is no chance for contamination of sensitive products during the cutting process. Because the machine separates the finished product from the leftover scraps, this also eliminates the need for post-processing. Hands-off cutting means a technician can work on multiple projects at once, saving time and money on a large-scale project. This method also saves the technician from straining themselves or their tools.
Before laser cutting machines, saw cutting was the standard way to fabricate materials. Two sawing methods for fabrication include the scroll saw and the band saw. The scroll saw is a hands-free saw that a technician pedals to move up and down, creating specialty cuts and crafting designs. Band saws do not move up and down like a scroll saw. The blade is thin with specialized teeth. It stays in a stationary position, attached to moving wheels that enable it to cut.
Because there are so many different types of saws, possible applications for saw cutting are endless. Saw cutting is a good fit for a variety of projects, including consumer product fabrication. Scroll saws are ideal for decorative detailing, while band saws are suitable for working with metal.
A saw can cut through many materials, including:
- Metal sheets
- Metal tubing
Advantages of Saw Cutting
Benefits of using saw cutting for your project are that:
- It’s easy to learn: Compared to laser cutting, saw cutting has a smaller learning curve. While the final result of your project depends upon a steady hand and keen eye, there is no programming or computer involved. This makes it ideal for projects that do not require complicated detail work.
- It’s a smaller investment: The total cost of a project depends on several factors, including the material used, project requirements and specifications, the company you partner with and the amount of time and detail work required. Saw cutting a project is usually a smaller initial investment than laser cutting due to the lack of a computerized system. For new or small businesses whose projects do not demand the use of a specific machine, these cost savings are an important factor.
- It’s easier to diagnose problems: If something goes wrong with a saw cutting project, it’s usually very simple to identify and correct the issue, whereas laser cutters can be more challenging to configure and diagnose.
How to Choose the Best Cutting Method for Your Project
Now that you know more about the difference between laser cutting and saw cutting, how do you determine the best cutting method for your project or business? Consider the following:
- Your budget: If partnering with a fabrication service, consider the cost difference between laser and saw cutting. If you can complete your project with either method, choose the one that fits your budget and desired time frame. If you’re investing in a machine for your business, factor in the cost of the initial investment, ongoing training and maintenance and available floor space.
- The material you’re working with: Saw cutting and laser cutting are suitable for several types of materials. Some materials, such as diamond or certain metals, can only be cut via laser cutter. Thicker materials are often better suited for traditional saw cutting, as some laser cutting machines are unable to cut through dense materials — though that varies between machines and fabricators. Contact a professional fabricator for more information.
- The project specifications: The details of your project are the most important things to consider when choosing between laser cutting and traditional saw cutting. Are there any small lines, curves or intricate details on your piece? Is precision important, or is there some flexibility to the dimensions of your cut? If so, a laser cutter might be your best option. If your project only requires a few, simple cuts, traditional saw cutting is the way to go.
Contact Summit Steel for High-Volume Metal Fabrication Services
Working with a professional fabrication service is the best way to get top-quality results. It also eliminates the need to invest in costly machinery or specialized training. Summit Steel is an ISO-9001-certified contract manufacturing company, which means we meet all ISO standards for quality processes and services. We partner with businesses across all industries to provide saw cutting as well as 3D and 2D laser cutting fabrication.
Here are a few reasons you should trust your project to Summit Steel:
- We have top-of-the-line equipment that we regularly service and maintain for optimal performance.
- Our trained technicians are skilled and have years of experience working with a variety of materials.
- We maintain strict quality standards, so you know you’re getting the best.
- Letting us handle your fabrication enables you to focus your time and energy on other areas of your business.