What is the cost of laser cutting?

Laser cutting cost check: What do laser parts cost and why?

Laser cutting is a cutting process that requires no tooling costs at all. This fact alone, makes it often cheaper compared to competing processes. But how expensive is laser cutting really? Here we have compiled the most important cost factors for laser cutting with a fiber laser.

If you keep an eye on the cost drivers as early as the design stage of the laser parts, you can increase the cost-effectiveness of production enormously. We reveal how!



Which cost factors are included in the calculation?

In the following, we want to look at the individual factors for the subsequent price of the laser cuts once in detail.

The material There are many different materials that are suitable for laser cutting. At the same time, the different materials are also sometimes far apart in terms of price. The selection of a suitable material is not always easy, but in terms of the use and cost of the laser part crucial.
The material thickness/material thickness In addition to the cutting speed, the material thickness also determines the time required for the laser beam to penetrate the material. Two factors that significantly affect the price.
The cutting speed/feed rate Depending on the material and how thick the material to be cut is, the laser can operate at a limited cutting speed. Slow speeds automatically imply a longer manufacturing time and lead to higher costs.
The cutting length The length of the outer contour of a cut part results in the cut length, i.e. the travel distance the laser has to cover to manufacture a part. Thus, the cut length is partly responsible for the manufacturing time.
The part area The part area conditions the material consumption. For particularly unfavorable contours (eg circles), the waste can be optimized only conditionally.
The cutting accuracy Generally, higher accuracies require a lower cutting speed. If a higher accuracy of the laser parts is required, the feed rate with which the laser system operates must therefore be reduced.
The complexity of the part The complexity of a component often has a negative impact on several of the above-mentioned factors at once. For example, a contour with a lot of detail and tight curves can mean that the laser has to brake repeatedly and thus only reaches its maximum speed over a small part of the travel path. A large number of necessary recesses, e.g. in components with many holes, also increases the processing time.
Also a large number of necessary punctures, for example, for components with many holes increases the processing time.


laser cuts

How is it calculated?

To determine the cutting costs of a laser part, the so-called machine hourly rate is used as the basis for calculation. Different machines have different machine hourly rates due to different acquisition and operating costs. To calculate the price of the laser part, the following parameters are considered:

Material costs What does the sheet metal cost to purchase? How often is it used for manufacturing? How much wastage occurs with optimal placement?
Machine hourly rate What is the cost of the machine in use per hour?
Personnel hourly rate How much manual effort (e.g. set-up costs, rework, etc.) is required to produce the cutting part?
Overhead costs What are the overhead costs that are not directly involved in the production of the laser part, but must be allocated to manufacturing?
Setup costs How much effort is required to prepare the machine for manufacturing the laser part? How many parts will be manufactured? In the case of single-part production, the proportional setup costs are the highest; in the case of large series orders, they are vanishingly small.
No tooling costs Unlike punching or milling, for example, no tool is required for laser cutting. The laser beam as the “sole tool” can be used for any individual component. Investment and maintenance costs for tools are therefore saved completely. This financial advantage, the competing processes often can no longer catch up.



What are the cost drivers in laser cutting?

As explained earlier,high component complexity quickly leads to high cutting times and therefore high prices. Where complexity is needed, however, this fact cannot be ignored, of course.

The situation is often quite different with general manufacturing tolerances and technical requirements for laser cuts. Here, an inaccurate specification or an exaggerated design drawing can quickly increase the cost of laser cutting unnecessarily.


Tolerance classes

At TEPROSA, all cut parts are manufactured according to the DIN ISO 2768-1 m standard (general tolerances) for the geometric dimension, unless otherwise agreed with the customer. Through the four possible tolerance classes fine (f), medium (m), coarse (g) and very coarse (sg), the respective accuracy in manufacturing is defined and simplified by DIN ISO 2768-1.

Limit deviations for linear dimensions according to DIN ISO 2768-1

Limit dimensions in mm for nominal dimension range in mm
< 0.5 0.5 to 3 about 3 to 6 over 6 to 30 over 30 to 120 over 120 to 400 over 400 to 1000 over 1000 to 2000 over 2000 to 4000 over 4000 to 8000
f (fine) ± 0.05 ± 0.05 ± 0.10 ± 0.15 ± 0.2 ± 0.3 ± 0.5
m (medium) ± 0.10 ± 0.10 ± 0.20 ± 0.30 ± 0.5 ± 0.8 ± 1.2 ± 2 ± 3
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