The rapid evolution of modern laser cutting technology

The speed in which fiber laser cutting machines operate is hard to ignore. They make the CO2 laser cutting machines from only 10 years ago look painfully slow.

But speed is not the only reason that metal fabricators are investing regularly in new laser cutting capabilities. Today’s machines have automated tasks that even the most top-of-the-line systems from a few years ago relied on operator intervention to accomplish.

As metal fabricators learn to do more with less—not by choice, but because of the tight labor market—they are leaning on technology to keep production moving efficiently through the shop. That same thinking applies to laser cutting. Consider what state-of-the-art laser cutting technology does for the modern-day metal fabricator.

Maximizing Material Utilization
From January 2020 to August 2021, steel prices increased 219%. Infrequent as they might be, they still pose a risk to any job shop that isn’t in peak financial shape.

This is where powerful nesting algorithms, found in modern laser cutting machine programming software, can make a difference. A metal fabricator can go from simple static nests that match the flow of work through the shop to more dynamic nesting where different jobs might be included on the same nest to maximize material utilization and reduce scrap.

This type of programming power results in nests with more intelligent common-line cutting. For example, the laser makes one cut that ends up being a common edge for two distinct parts. Computing power can take that nesting arrangement and expand it to include four parts that might share cut lines in a two-by-two grid or even a collection of different parts that share one common edge resulting from one cut.

Today’s nesting algorithms are simply more robust than those from five years ago. The computing power available to today’s machines make them much more efficient in figuring out not only the best ways to place as many parts as possible on one sheet without wasting too much material, but also in calculating the most efficient way to make the cuts to maximize production time and minimize consumables wear.

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