fabricating Comparison Cutting
Assessing the best cutting system
for your shop
By Nestor Gula
It’s a conundrum that most expanding shops have faced–
which automated cutting technology to purchase.
If money, for the initial purchase and the subsequent
running costs were no object, the decision would be an easy
one. But these systems come with a high price tag and the
running costs can vary. You need to assess your ROI and
balance that with the cutting capabilities you require today
and in the future. Paul Silva, application specialist, technical
sales for Machitech Automation, says laser cutting machines
are a good choice for light manufacturing, but plasma offers
more flexibility for cutting thicker materials.
“We can go from thin gauge all the way up to a two-inch
split. There is no way you can do that with a laser. Plasma
can do thin gauge with lower amperage but the fine detail is
not there compared to a laser.”
The systems are complex, but so are the needs of most
shops, so choosing an automated cutting system is never
about choosing one system over the other, says Kal Shergill,
president of MicroStep Canada.
“It depends on a shop’s needs: what type of material
you’re processing. What are the tolerances required in
processing that material? And the most important thing to
consider is how much production do you have for one type
of material over another?”
One technology doesn’t displace another type of cutting
technology, adds Shergill. He suggests fabricators consider
the type and thickness of material typically cut in the shop
and the volume of production.
laser cutting systems like
this truMPF machine are
typically more expensive
than waterjet or plasma
machines, but in medium
to high volume shops,
you can achieve a faster
roI, say suppliers.
laser cutting systems are considered a powerful option for many
fabricatio shops because of the speed, accuracy and flexibility such
systems offer. seen here is amada's fiber laser cutting system.