Comparison of CNC Punching to Laser Cutting

Are you designing a part and not sure if your sheet metal fabrication company will punch it or laser cut the part?  As the leader in sheet metal fabrication in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and throughout the Midwest, Noble Industries processes approximately 40 tons of sheet metal parts a week.   Here are a few tips on how we decide which method is best.   

The fastest method for creating a part with holes is CNC punching or metal stamping.   Stamping is by far the fastest and most economical way to produce a part in high production quantities (such as a 500,000 piece run or higher).  When high production is not required, it is hard to justify the cost of tooling and stamping set up.  CNC punching or laser cutting can then be considered as the most economical process.

CNC punching is designed for 10,000 piece or less production runs with holes, louvers and dimples.  If your part has louvers or dimples, then punching is the way to go.  Punching holes in a turret or punch press is much faster than laser cutting a multitude of holes.  Cluster tools can be purchased to punch a series of holes at one time.  Part numbers can also be stamped into the part faster on a punch press.  Typically a CNC punch machine can punch a hole or cluster of holes in less than a second.

The edge condition, scaling, curves in the part and roundness of the holes are also things to consider when deciding on the manufacturing method of a metal fabricated part.   When you have a thin gauge part (such as 16 -22 gauge) with curves or long straight lines, laser cutting will be faster.   Laser cutting parts with oxygen assist gas will produce a carbon scale on the laser edge which can cause problems in welding or powder coating.  If this is a concern then the edge needs to be deburred after laser cutting or nitrogen gas can be used when laser cutting the part.  

These along with nipple marks, scratching and overall finish are just a few of the things to consider when manufacturing sheet metal parts. 

Noble Industries has been in business since 1968 and can be your first choice in fabricated metal parts.  Contact us at 800-466-1926 for a quote, meeting at your location or a tour of our facility.  We would love to help you with all your metal fabrication needs!

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