Laser Cutting for Product Development
As its name implies, this manufacturing process is a cutting technology. There are many fabrication methods to cut materials, and laser cutting is one of the most commonly used. There are no tooling costs, and unit costs are typically relatively low. Many materials can be cut with a laser: wood, paper/card, marble, textiles, rubber, ceramics, and a variety of plastics and metals (steel is especially suited to being laser cut, although other metals such as aluminum can be cut, as well).
One advantage of laser cutting is its ability to create small and precise cuts, so that intricate patterns or details can be made in the material. Like most manufacturing processes these days, laser cutting can be performed via CAD/CAM software: simply send the manufacturer a 2D format (commonly a .dxf file), although including a 2D engineering drawing, as well, is good practice to convey critical dimensions/tolerances or other important notes. While the process is very effective for thin materials (down to ~.008″), thicker materials can be cut, as well (up to ~1.50″). Cutting thicker materials can greatly increase processing time, however, which in turn increases costs.
Pipeline Design & Engineering works with several laser cutting vendors in Arizona and out of state. The process is one of many that allow us to provide superb product development services.
Here are a few images of laser cutting in action.