Laser Cutting vs. Stamping
Thu May 13, 2021
While the differences between laser cutting and stamping manufacturing may seem straightforward, there are many factors including cost, lead time & quality that one approach versus the other affects and should be taken into consideration. Let’s take a look at both approaches and review the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Laser cutting’s main advantages are turnaround time and no upfront investment in tooling. Parts can go from design to production with finished parts being ready in a few days or weeks. Laser cutting is also perfect for prototyping, because of its speed and cost effectiveness for small quantities. Another advantage of laser cutting is the flexibility of changing designs and geometries at any time without the need for retooling. Plus, laser cutting is very attractive for situations where parts need to be manufactured in multiple materials or different material thicknesses. Disadvantages include a slower rate of production per piece as well as laser cutting dross which requires an additional process to remove excess material.
In comparison, let’s take a look at stamping. One of the big advantages of stamping is the ability to hold tight tolerances as low as 0.0005” versus 0.001-0.002” with laser cutting. The biggest disadvantage for this increased tolerance is the up front investment in tooling a die, which can range from anywhere as low as $5k all the way up to $500k for larger complex dies. Because of the need to engineer & manufacture a die, stamping can typically delay production anywhere from r 5-16 weeks weeks or more at the onset. However, during production, stamping can produce products at a much faster rate than laser cutting resulting in a lower piece cost. Stamping is less conducive to handling different thickness or types of materials with the same die, and any changes in part geometry means a new die needs to be created. Another disadvantage is stamping burr which in certain applications such as coating or insulation application can result in pooling and requires a secondary sanding process.
The answer to which is the best approach for your requirements often comes down to volume and ROI. If tolerances are not an issue, volume will dictate whether stamping or laser cutting is the right approach since it then becomes a simple calculation on ROI. When looking solely at the per piece cost of a final product, laser cutting is always more expensive than stamping. Laser cutting is also a slower process per piece than stamping. However, certain geometries may be too complex for stamping and can only be achieved through laser cutting.
Questions that should be asked include:
- What is the repeatability of the design over time?
- What is the breakeven point of the cost of the die and the lower per piece price of a stamped part?
- What are the tolerance requirements of the application?
- How does the complexity of the part design affect the cost of the die?
- What are the volume and lead time requirements?
Laser Technologies offers laser cutting, stamping, notching and die design, assembly & maintenance all in-house. Our team can assist you in choosing the right approach for your unique application. Unlike other manufacturers, Laser Technologies has no standard geometry types or part minimum quantities for both laser cutting and stamping. You design your part to whatever your needs may be and we’ll find the right approach to make it a reality, no matter what your initial or production level quantity requirements may be.