Click to ExpandTube Laser Cutting vs. CNC Saw Cutting

When it comes to manufacturing precision components, CNC saw machines and tube laser cutting machines are two advantageous equipment options. Both automated systems utilize set instructions within a computer program to rapidly generate products, even in high-volume production runs. While both pieces of equipment can handle jobs demanding intricate cutting, each has distinct capabilities and benefits, so it is helpful to understand the differences to determine which one is the best choice for a specific application.

What Is CNC Sawing?

Manual saw cutting was once considered the standard method for fabricating components. In computerized numerical control (CNC) sawing, a physical saw blade uses friction and automation to cut through thick materials like metal and plastic. Depending upon the application, saw blades for CNC cutting include circular, band, and miter saws.

Manufacturers can create a design file using computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, which integrates with the CNC saw cutting machine. A computer then guides the cutting implement with optimum performance and output speed while reducing the risk of operator injury.

What Is Tube Laser Cutting?

Modern technology has opened the door for tube laser cutting, a non-contact technique that uses a laser’s heat to quickly and efficiently cut through materials. Manufacturers commonly use this flexible process to cut tubes ranging in size, shape, material type, and thickness to desired lengths, or bore holes or design features into tubing surfaces. Operators also have the option of producing either two- or three-dimensional designs with two- or three-axis tube laser cutters.

Tube laser cutting is an ideal method for consistent repeatability, providing superior precision and smooth edges in its cuts. This reduces the need for secondary finishing. That, and the fact that laser cutting equipment can handle both general and design-specific cutting on a single machine, provides cost-saving efficiency.

What Materials Are Best to Use for a CNC Saw vs. a Tube Laser?

One of the most significant advantages of a CNC sawing machine is that it can cut through thicker materials that other cutting techniques can’t. Materials that are ideal for CNC sawing include:

  • Acrylic
  • Aluminum, steel, and metal plate
  • Composite material
  • Plastic
  • Wood

Alternatively, compatible materials for tube laser cutting include:

  • Aluminum, titanium, and other metals or steel alloys
  • Corrugated substrates
  • Plastic
  • Wood

Cost Difference Between Laser and Saw Cutting

Many manufacturers assume that CNC sawing is the most cost-effective method of the two, but they must consider several factors, including any material and tolerance requirements, when choosing the most affordable and effective process for the job. Unlike saw machining, laser cutting has the potential to be a dual operation that offers reduced costs when a task requires multiple cuts. Eliminating the need for secondary finishing can provide cost savings as well. However, while laser cutting machines necessitate less maintenance than CNC sawing machines, they consume more energy. Manufacturers must weigh the advantages of each for determining the ideal process to meet a specific application’s requirements.

Partner With TBSI

When selecting the right cutting technique for your application, consider the material and the number of cuts and, importantly, employ an operator with years of experience in metal manufacturing to achieve superior quality. Taylor Business Strategies, Inc. has been fabricating high-performance components since 1998, drawing on an extensive supplier network for the best results.

Offering quick lead times, competitive pricing, and nearly unlimited capacity, TBSI provides agile sourcing solutions while taking a problem-solving approach on all projects. In addition to CNC sawing and tube laser cutting, our capabilities include flat laser cutting, waterjet cutting, CNC plasma and router cutting, torching or flame cutting, and shearing. TBSI has access to more than 50 lasers within our supply chain, including six tube lasers that can cut tube lengths of 30 feet.

Contact our experienced team today to learn more about how TBSI can help your business with all of your steel fabrication needs, or request a quote to begin your project.


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