When talking about cutting metal sheet material, two approaches give the best result – laser cutting and water cutting. However, the rapid development and innovation in laser technology give a significant advantage to laser cutting in the price per meter because of:
1. Increased speed
2. Low cost of cutting
3. Tighter tolerances
4. Lower costs
How much does laser cutting cost?
Given these advantages, laser cutting is obviously more cost-effective, but by how accurate, that depends on the amount of material we cut and how long it will take. As with any manufacturing process, the cost of laser cutting metal varies depending on several factors:
1. Type of the material
The price for metal cutting varies according to the type of material – whether it is:
• Carbon steel
• Stainless steel
• Other metal
The thicker the material, the more time it takes to cut. In general, laser cutting is suitable for cutting thicknesses up to 30 mm for carbon and mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel.
For thicker materials, water cutting is recommended.
For the formation of the final price, we also need to take into account the amount of material we need to cut. Economies of scale are possible in the execution of larger orders, as better nesting is possible then.
The cost of electricity consumed by the fiber laser machine
The fiber laser machine has several main components and electricity consumers – these are the laser source, chiller and servo motors that drive the cutting head. The following information is based on a machine with a laser source with a power of 1000W.
We know that the fiber laser source has a very high photoelectronic conversion – about 25%. Therefore, the operation of a laser source with a power of 1000W will cost 4kW/hour.
For moving the cutting head on the axes, 4 servo motors are used, with a total electricity consumption of 4kW/hour.
For a laser source with a power of 1000W, the power consumption of the chiller is about 3kW/hour.
This reduces the total electricity consumed to 11kW.
In reality, however, the cost of total electricity consumed is about 60%, since it is not possible for all components to operate at full power at all times.
Therefore, a fiber laser machine with a laser source power of 1000W will work at a price of 6.6kW/hour. No other machine of this type has a lower cost of operation per hour than the fiber lasercutting machine.
Fiber laser cutting needs auxiliary gas. When cutting black steel, oxygen is used, and nitrogen is used in cutting non-ferrous metals. Compressed air can also be used when cutting stainless or black steel with a thickness of less than 2 mm, at a laser source power of 1000W.
The amount of auxiliary gas used depends on the type and thickness of the material cut. For this reason, we need to know exactly what material we need to cut and what its thickness is in order to calculate the amount of auxiliary gas needed.
Common wear consumables
The most common wear consumables in a fiber laser cutting machine are nozzles, adaptors, safety glasses, sealing/protective rings and others. The life of these components is over 500 working hours depending on the way of use, and for sealing rings – from 1 to 5 years. These consumables are different in type, purpose and quality, with prices of some of them starting from only 10 BGN/piece, depending on the type of the machine and the cutting head.
Return on investment
The period we most often observe for full return on investment in certain models of fiber laser cutting machines is 3 years. The cost of working with such a machine is about 50%-60% of the price that external contractors can offer. If these 40%-50%, which are saved, are used to reimburse the cost of investing in the machine, this cost can be reimbursed for a period of 2, 3, 4, 5 years, depending on the selected model.
Of course, this forecast is most accurate when you have the right machine for your specific purposes. If you are hesitant about which machine is best for you, you can consult our qualified technicians who will guide you to the right choice.
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