As a manufacturer or fabricator, every stage of the production process is a key one. If you've been doing most of it in-house but contracting out things such as laser cutting, you're still vulnerable to unnecessary supply and schedule disruptions. If you've been thinking about bringing all of your production in-house, you may be considering buying a laser cutter. This kind of investment takes some careful thought and planning. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice.
What Are The Benefits Of Doing Your Own Laser Cutting?
Before you can really make the decision if it's worth the investment, you need to understand the benefits that you'll get from buying your own laser cutting equipment. First and foremost, it gives you complete control over your supply schedule. You won't have to worry about shipping delays, operational delays from your supplier, or any similar issues that could slow down your delivery and production schedules.
Doing your own laser cutting also gives you greater control over quality. If you've ever had to refuse or return shipments from your laser cutting supplier due to production errors or poor quality, this will be a thing of the past when you do your own work. You can establish your own quality control inspection process that minimizes lost materials and time, ensuring that everything that comes off the line is just the way that you want it.
Which Type Of Machine Should You Choose?
There are two primary types of laser cutting machines. You can choose from CO2 or fiber machines. CO2 machines are the traditional laser cutters. They have been used for many years. You will find them to be dependable and ideal for thicker materials and sharper edges. However, they aren't as reliable with reflective materials, and they can be more costly to run than their fiber counterparts.
Fiber laser cutters are newer to the market. They offer faster speeds and lower operating costs, though they can't cut through materials as thick as CO2 cutters can. The initial investment is higher as well, but the lower operating costs help to offset that over time.
Do You Need To Swap Your Production Software?
If you've been doing much of your manufacturing on your own up to now, you probably have an automation package that your staff has become familiar with and relies on. The other consideration is whether or not the equipment will integrate with your existing software. If not, you'll have to account for training time to get everyone up to speed on the new software package. Some machines need to have the manufacturer's software package for the best results, so factor this in as you shop.