Digital cutting machines and laser cutter machines are two of the most common types of cutting machines. Digital flatbed cutting machines are advantageous for their durability and easy-to-use features, while laser cutting machines excel with speed and precision. In this blog post, we will explore the major differences between these two types of machines so you can decide which one suits your needs best.
What is Laser Cutting Machine & How Does it Work?
A laser cutter machine is an electro-mechanical device that uses a powerful beam of light (laser) to cut material. A laser’s beam is directed to a precise point on the material and where it is absorbed. The concentrated beam changes into heat energy that causes the material (depending on its composition) to melt, burn or vaporize. A movable lens can guide the laser beam to cut very detailed shapes in various materials. The laser retains its focus even when cutting through a workpiece so that there are no deflection problems.
Materials to use with laser cutter machine
Some of the materials you can cut with a laser cutter machine include wood, MDF, metal, acrylic, textile, leather, foam, sponge, and paper, among other flexible materials.
Laser Cutting Machine Advantages
High precision cutting
Laser cutting machines are capable of cutting very intricate details with high precision. Since the laser beam can be directed to a very fine point and is projected from an invisible source (the focused ray), there are no issues of deflection or distortion. Their precision level makes them perfect for those who need high-accuracy cuts or designs that require exact measurements – such as in clothing manufacturing or quilting.
Fast cutting speed
Laser cutting machines are known for their high-speed cutting. This is due to the laser’s power which creates heat that melts or evaporates material instantly, allowing it to be removed quickly. However, cutting speed depends on controls selected by the operator, the type of material being cut, the thickness of the material, and the power of the laser beam.
The high speed and precision with which they work make laser cutters very useful for professionals who need a lot of cutting done in a short period and thus cannot afford to stick around while waiting for their machines to heat up.
Not limited to cutting patterns
Due to their accuracy, laser cutting machines are also used to create patterns from the material using various methods such as engraving, sculpting, and etching. The high precision they offer allows for intricate cuts and curves, with no distortions or blemishes upon completion. This is useful in applications like engraving an individual’s name on jewelry or other small products. For professionals that need to cut or create any patterns on thin sheets of plastic, metal, or glass, this is the best machine to use.
Since laser cutting machines use heat as their energy source, the cut edges do not have a sharp or jagged appearance. They instead look smooth and polished for a better presentation of a finished product. But, it is also important to note that this means the material being cut will be more susceptible to oxidation over time if no protective coat is applied.
Low processing cost
Laser cutting machines are cheaper to operate than other types of cutters. This is a result of their ability to melt and remove material quickly and the fact that they do not require consumables like blades or wires. They also function more efficiently, with little waste or loss of material.
Laser cutting machines can scale up and down the amount of power they use, so working professionals can adjust them as needed for their projects – saving money from operating too slowly or paying high amounts for excess power that is not used.
Laser Cutting Machine Disadvantages
While laser cutting machines are good at providing clean and smooth cutting, they also have some disadvantages. They include:
Requires high maintenance
Since laser cutting machines use heat as their primary cutting method, they can be highly sensitive and need much attention. They require constant monitoring and calibration to ensure the machine is working at its best and not losing focus or power, which can cause poor cuts or, worse – possible damage to the device. They are also prone to overheat, which can result in damage to the machine and surrounding area.
Laser head takes time to heat up
The laser head inside a laser cutting machine takes time to heat up and cool down slowly. The heating process is the slowest aspect of the entire cutting operation, taking about 5 to 10 minutes in total for a complete cycle to occur. This means that short processing times can create problems when dealing with urgent jobs, which cannot be started until the laser has finished heating up.
Due to their high precision, laser cutting machines are often expensive for small business owners and amateurs who do not need large-scale jobs done promptly. Laser cutters are also more costly to maintain than other cutter machines because they require regular calibrations and attention.
Limited material compatibility
While the precision with which laser cutting machines work is at the top of their class, they can also cut only certain materials. They cannot handle metal or plastic materials that are irregular in shape or type, such as PVC. The material must be clean and smooth to withstand high temperatures without warping during the cutting process.
Leaves a yellow mark behind
Because the laser is cut at a high temperature, they leave a yellow mark on the cut material. This mark is from the process of fusing two pieces at high heat, so it is best if you plan to cover up your cut lines by putting a white piece of paper or simply painting over them after cutting.
Produce a smell
Laser cutting machines produce a smell during the cutting process that some find unpleasant. The odor is similar to burning hair which may not be environmentally friendly.
What is a Digital Cutting Machine & How Does it Work?
A digital cutting machine is a computerized cutting tool that uses high-frequency vibration blades to cut material. The flatbed digital cutter machine is sometimes called a plotter due to its similarity in function with other pen plotters or carvers. Its main components include a rotary blade or wire (depending on the model), which moves in an up-and-down motion with the aid of a motor inside that enables it to slice through material rapidly. The material is then held in place thanks to clamps and the blades’ vibration. Unlike a saw blade, the result is no serration or powder produced. The speed of the blade can be adjusted depending on the thickness of the material to be cut.
Materials to use with digital cutter machine
They can cut through numerous materials and be easily adjusted for various thicknesses or shapes of material. This machine can cut different materials, including leather, grooved paper, vinyl, car mats, foam, cardboard, sponge, and other flexible materials.
Digital Cutting Machine Advantages
Digital flatbed cutter machines can cut faster than most other cutting machines out there because of their high-speed blade that moves at a high frequency. This makes it a good machine for people whose main objective is to cut as much material into specific shapes or sizes in the shortest amount of time.
A digital cutting machine is also flexible because of the variety of materials used, which are both rigid and flexible. They can work with anything from thick leather to thin vinyl, as long as the material is not larger than the maximum cutting size.
A digital cutting machine can be easily carried from one place to another since it is relatively lightweight and small in size. This also makes them very convenient for people who do not have permanent spaces for their tools or machines. They are best used as portable tools, so you can use them without much setup or rearranging your space.
While it is not more durable than other cutting machines, a digital cutting machine will surely last you for a long time. It comprises high-quality components that work together to produce the best and most precise cuts possible. This includes its blade, which can be adjusted depending on the material being used to deliver the best performance.
Cuts through thick material efficiently
A digital cutting machine can slice through thick material with much ease, making it a great alternative to the manual cutting processes that often require more labor. It also doesn’t matter if the material is thicker or thinner, as long as it falls within the thickness limits of the machine.
Can cut pre-designed patterns and shapes
A digital cutter machine can be used for simple and complex projects, for they have been designed to cut out intricate designs from any material. It can cut out anything from the most basic to the most intricate designs, making it very effective for creating signs and displays.
More environmentally friendly
Digital cutting machine cutting is odorless and does not produce any dust, making it a more environmentally-friendly option than some other cutting machines. Its motor is also very efficient when it comes to consuming power.
Digital Cutting Machine VS Laser Cutting Machine – Which is Better for Your Needs?
The decision will ultimately come down to your needs and what objectives you are trying to accomplish with your projects. The fact that the laser cutter is more expensive than the digital one does not mean it is necessarily better for you, so always remember to weigh both options carefully before deciding which one is best for you.
A laser cutting machine is better for you if:
- You need a quick turnaround for your projects.
- You are planning on doing detailed work that requires intricate designs or patterns to be cut out.
- If these conditions apply to your situation, then a laser cutting machine is probably a better option for you.
On the other hand, a digital cutter machine may be more suitable for your needs if:
- You are planning on cutting out large amounts of material with high efficiency.
- You need a tool that can easily cut through thick materials.
- You want to save money but still get quality work done in less time.
If you want a cheap, efficient tool that is also easy to use for complicated projects, then a digital cutting machine is your best option. But if you are planning on finishing large amounts of work quickly and with lots of details involved, the laser cutting machine may be more suitable for your needs.
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