Whether to utilize laser cutting or stamping to complete a project is a question we get often. Each of these processes has its pros and cons, and it’s important to understand the differences, limitations, and benefits that might affect your decision to go one way or the other.
What is Metal Stamping?
At a high-level view, metal stamping involves the creation of a die as a sort of mold for the part you wish to create. This die is then pressed into a malleable metal with enough force to shape the metal to the shape of the die, creating the part. Laser cutting, on the other hand, involves the use of a powerful and very precise laser to cut different metals into the desired shape.
Cost is always a main factor in any type of supply chain activity, and metal fabrication is no different. When it comes to laser cutting vs. stamping it comes down to the amount of money it takes to get the initial units produced. Metal stamping jobs require the creation of a custom die that is only used for the production of a specific part. The creation of the die creates a much higher upfront cost, however once created, the die can be used repeatedly to make a large number of parts. The equipment takes significantly longer to set up than a laser cut, but the time to produce each part once the system has been readied can be less.
What is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting can be set up digitally, allowing production to start right away. Since the setup time is much lower and no custom tooling is required, the cost savings as volumes go up are not as dramatic. In general, if there is a short to medium production run laser cutting may be the better option, especially if time is a factor. The complexity of the part is also often a factor in whether you choose laser cutting or stamping for your production run. If the part has a complex geometry, a laser may be a better fit, since there is no physical tooling required before the parts can be manufactured. Laser cutters can cut intricate geometric shapes of many different-sized features on the same part. It can also nest parts of many different shapes and sizes on the same sheet of material, which can be ideal for clusters of parts used together in weldments or assemblies. Nesting at the laser can also yield more cost savings.
Metal stamping is harder with more complex pieces. Complicated shapes with complex cutting geometry will require a more expensive tool. Cutting harder metals will wear the tooling out faster, while for the laser cutter, hardness will not matter. This is especially true when using harder metals and can result in increased time and budget depending on the level of complexity, type of materials used, and volume of pieces being created.
Making A Decision
At the end of the day, there are a variety of factors that go into deciding how to get your custom metal parts produced. Our goal at Integrated Manufacturing Solutions is to provide you with the best possible options to suit your specific needs. Not only do we have the skills and expertise to take care of your most complex laser cutting jobs, but we also have built friendly relationships with a number of stampers throughout our time providing powder coating services to them. Contact us to get expert advice prior to starting your next production run.
If you are interested in our laser cutting services, we have the state of the art technology that can cut nearly any type of metal. Contact us below.