(This blog post is constantly being updated. So, come back in the future to learn more about this topic)
There are many laser machine companies out there along with many different kind of laser machines. So many that it’s almost impossible to choose.
So how do you choose?
When investing so much money on a laser machine, you must know you’re choosing the right laser machine. Or else, losing all that money is gonna hurt.
But don’t worry, because in this post I wanna I want to make it simple for you to choose the right laser cutter for your business. I promise this will give you at least 2X more confidence in investing in the right laser machine. So let’s do this!
First Step – How To Choose The Right Brand (Hint: NEVER Go By Price)
Doesn’t it seem like almost every laser machine brand out there has the perfect laser machine for you?
If you go online or on phone, every laser company machine will ask you these basic questions: what material you need to cut, how thick, and maybe what bed-size you need. Then once they get this info, they will ask for your email and/or a number and send you a laser machine along with its price.
So if you think about it, almost every laser machine company can give you a laser machine powerful enough to fulfill your cutting needs. That’s unless you have something specific that only a high-end quality brand can do for you. In general, though, most people are not cutting something specific that requires a high-end machine.
So when it comes to choosing a laser machine brand, it really all comes down to price, right?
Well… not really.
Yes, price is a huge factor when it comes to buying a laser machine, but you shouldn’t base your entire purchasing decision on it.
So many people have complained and have became frustrated over getting poor customer service and technical support. So much so, that people will even pay more just to get good customer service. Laser cutting machines, like all other mechanical things, will eventually have technical issues and breakdown. If that happens to you (which highly likely will happen), you will want the business that sold you the laser cutter to back you up with great customer service and technical support. Without great customer service and technical support, you’ll end up with a lot of frustration and wasted time.
So, how do you see which brand is best for you? You do it by testing their customer service when you are buying your laser cutting machine. First, you’re gonna want to check out their website, call/message them to ask questions, view their sales/education material, read their online reviews, and do anything that lets you see how their customer service is.
When asking questions you want to see how they answer. Are they taking their time to explain everything and make sure you fully understand? Are they letting you know why a certain machine is right for what you’re going to be doing in your business? Or are they constantly trying to upsell you or push an expensive machine because it will be good for their sales/commission? In the next section, I will show you how to figure out the requirements of your business when buying a laser cutter. You will then want to ask questions based on what these requirements are.
You will also want to see how the laser cutting machine brand will respond in future situations/scenarios. You’ll want to ask questions like: What will happen if one of my machine parts break down before warranty? How fast will you guys be able to fix that? Or: If I were to call for technical assistance, how fast will I be able to get someone to help me?
And don’t be afraid to ask hard questions like What makes you different from other laser machine businesses? Or, why does this particular machine cost this much money?
Go ahead and actually call their customer service number to see if people really do answer quick. And make sure you asks them question to see how they respond.
Asking these questions to the businesses you are considering buying from will let you see how their customer service is like. It gives you a little taste of how they will treat you once you buy a laser cutting machine. If they treat you right from the start, they are likely to treat you right in the long run.
Second Step – The 5 Major Things You Need To Know
In the beginning, when buying a laser cutting machine, you don’t want to worry too much about all the different kinds of laser cutting machines out there. You will go through so many laser cutting machines with all kinds of features that make it impossible for you to choose from. Instead, what you first want to do first is figure out what are the requirements of your business. That way, you’re choosing a laser cutting machine that is specific to your needs. In the following section, I will show you how to do just that. There are 5 major keys you must get to unlock the perfect cutting machine for your business. So let’s dig right in and see what they are!
Key 1 – What Materials Will You Be Working With?
The first thing you’re gonna want to figure out are all the kinds of materials you are gonna be cutting now and in the future. The kinds of materials you cut will determine the kind of laser cutting machine you need.
There are two major kinds of laser cutters in the market: CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser cutting machines and fiber laser cutting machines. Both of these machines cut different kinds of materials.
If you’re thinking of cutting organic material such as wood, paper, leather, or anything similar, then you need to go for CO2 because fiber laser cutting machines can’t cut that kind of material. (A lot of these materials will melt, cut poorly, or cause a hazard if used with fiber lasers. For example, fiber laser machines on wood can cause a huge fire!) CO2 machines can also cut stuff like glass, stone, rubber, felt, cotton, denim, plywood, walnut, oak, and maple. These are things that fiber laser cutting machines can’t cut.
On the other hand, fiber machines can cut out all kinds of metals, including metals CO2 machines can’t cut called reflective metals. These metals are called reflective metals because they can reflect light (laser) back to the machine because of the nature of their structure. So machines like CO2 which has a certain way of shooting laser will have a high risk of damaging themselves if it tries to cut these reflective metals. Examples of reflective metals are copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, gold, and silver.
Make a list of all the materials you will work with to show the laser cutting machine brand you’re considering buying from.
Key 2 – What Material Is The Hardest You’ll Need To Cut?
After determining what materials you’ll be working with, you’ll want to figure out which material will be the hardest to cut. Materials that are harder are going to require more power from your machine to cut. For example, you need about 30+ watts of laser to cut through materials such as wood, cardboard, foam, and thin plastic. And you need up to 300watts of power to cut through thin steel or thick plastic. Also note that the thicker the material, the more power you will need to cut through it. If you want to cut up to 2mm of steel or thicker, then you need at least 500 watts of power.
On the list of materials you need to cut, you should circle the hardest one to let the lase cutting machine know when you’re buying.
Key 3 – What Is The Thickest Measurement You Will Need To Cut?
After figuring out the hardest material you need to cut, you also need to determine the maximum thickness you will need to cut for all materials. You don’t want to end up having to cut .50mm of something and not being able to cut it because your laser cutting machine does not have enough power to do so.
Also, note that it takes more power to cut harder materials as I explained earlier. So make sure you figure out what is the maximum thickness of the hardest material you will cut as well. It requires more power to cut .50 mm of aluminum than it does for .50 mm of stainless steel. For example, let’s say you have a fiber laser cutting machine that has a power of 1.5KW -12KW. This fiber laser cutting machine can probably cut up to 50mm of stainless steel. But can only cut up to 20 mm of brass or copper, or 35 mm of aluminum.
So here you want to make sure you write down the maximum thickness you will cut from all your materials. You also want to make sure you have enough power to cut the hardest material in the thickest measurement you will need it in.
Key 4 – Biggest Object You Might Need To Cut
The third step is figuring out what is the biggest thing/object you’re gonna cut out in length (y-dimension), width (x-dimension), and height (z-dimension) measured in millimeters, inches, or feet. Knowing what the biggest thing you will cut will determine the minimum dimensions for the bed-size of your laser cutting machine. The bed-size is the platform where you will be placing your metal sheets/blocks that will be cut out.
You won’t be able to change the bed-size of the laser cutting machine you will buy, so make sure to triple check what the biggest thing you will need to cut out. Always remember the good ol engineering rule: “measure twice, cut once”.
So make sure you figure out through extensive research what will be the biggest thing you will need to cut now or in the future. Make sure you pick a machine with enough working space to be able to cut that out.
Key 5 – How Fast And How Many?
The last key measurement you need to figure out is how much and how fast you need to cut things out. You know what they say, time is money. How fast you need a laser cutting machine to be will depend on your production needs.
You need to take a good hard look at your business operations and see what you need and want to do. Not just in the now, but also in the future. Will this machine you’re buying keep up with production requirements in the future?
There are a lot of factors that play into cutting machine speed that makes it tricky to figure out.
Usually, the cutting speed of a laser machine is measured in meters/minute. The higher the meters per minute, the faster it will be able to cut. This of course depends on the type of material you’ll be using and how hard it is, the thickness of the cut, how complicated the design you’re cutting is, what kind of laser cutting machine you’re using, and what it’s maximum power, and many more factors.
As you can see, this can get complicated pretty quick.
The best thing to do is a test run of an object you’ll need to cut out the most to see how long it takes. Then you can multiply this by the number of objects you need in a certain amount of time to see how long it will take.
Also, there are other things you need to be aware of that can affect a laser cutter speed. Things like maintenance time. CO2 laser cutters usually need more maintenance than a fiber laser cutter. Also, features like automatic bed feeder, rotation beds, special cutting software, and so on affect the laser cutting speed of your machine.
Also note that having a bigger bed-size also means you can cut out a multiple things at the same time. As long as they fit within the dimensions of the bed-size, you’ll be good to go. This can boost production big time. Just imagine you can cut out 10 or 20 or more things at once in one go. If you’re really concerned about huge production with Small objects, this idea is something big to consider.
I know, there are so many things to consider in determining the speed of a laser cutter. So what I suggest you do is determine what you will need to produce in a certain amount of time. How much of something will you need is a day? In a week? In a month? If a customer/business ask you they need something by tomorrow, will you be able to cut it out on time? Knowing your production requirements will help you see if a laser cutter is the right one. Make sure the laser cutting business that helps you actually shows you how a certain laser cutting machine can fulfill your production requirements.
Hopefully I was able to give you a bit of insight on how to choose a laser cutting machine for your business. Remember, customer service and technical support are the main thing you should look for in a laser cutting machine brand. Then, knowing your 5 keys :
- All the materials you’ll be using.
- What is the hardest material you will need to cut?
- What is the maximum thickness you’ll need to cut?
- What is the length, width, and height of the biggest object you will need to cut?
- How fast do you need to cut to fulfill your production requirements?
Thank you for reading. How you found this informative. Make sure you come back again because this post continues to be updated. This is SenFeng and once again, thanks for reading.