Compared with other methods of material cutting, laser cutting has the following advantages:
- It is a non-contact process. Flexible or fragile materials can be cut by a laser beam with high accuracy, and without the material distortion typically caused by mechanical cutting.
- Laser cut width is extremely narrow (typically 0.1 to 0.3 mm).
- The laser cutting process is fully computerized and automated.
These advantages of laser cutting, and the lack of need for complex anchoring mechanisms, allow to the cutting system to be quickly reset, for example from cutting a steel component to a polymer component.
- The actual area heated by the laser beam is very small, and most of the heated material is removed in the cutting process. Thus, the heat input to the majority of the material is very low, the heat affected zone is minimized and thermal distortion is absent.
- A laser cutting process is performed at high speed compared to other methods. For example, a typical laser with the power of 1200 watts cuts 2mm steel at a speed of 6 m/min. The same laser will cut 5mm acrylic sheet at a speed of about 12 m/min.
- Due to the computerization of the process, narrow width of the cut and lack of mechanical action on the sheet to be cut, the components may be positioned very close to each other. This reduces the loss of material to a minimum.
- The laser cutting process is noiseless compared with other competing methods.
Laser cutting is rapidly growing, with the number of operated units increasing by about 1000 every year, recently reaching the 10,000 mark.