Well the short and unsatisfactory answer is, it completely depends. There are many factors that go into determining how long a laser cutter takes to cut and are one’s that will ultimately differentiate from machine to machine.
The first being the power or wattage of the laser cutting machine you are using.
The higher the wattage of your machine, means you will have quicker cutting capabilities.
Let’s look at all the potential factors that go into determining how fast your laser cutting machine will cut.
When it comes to the power of your laser cutting machine, it is typically measured in wattage of the laser. For example, the Glowforge Plus has a 40w laser. Let’s take a look at a comparison chart of the different type of wattage you’ll see for lasers in the laser market today.
Laser Cutter Machine
|Orion Motor Tech||80w|
|Mophorn Laser Cutting Machine||50w|
Now power was just one of the main factors in determining the cut speed of a laser machine. The next critical area comes with speed of the machine, meaning how quickly can the laser travel over a certain distance. The term used for this is Feed Rate. For this unit of measurement we will again be looking at the differences in feed rate between a few Laser cutting machines.
Let’s take a look at the Dremel LC40 for example, one the fastest laser cutters on the market. It’s top speeds can reach up to 23.6 inches per second for engraving and 15.7 inches per second for cutting. That’s why the Dremel LC40 is certainly known for it’s high feed rate capability.
Just like with power, speed isn’t the only component when finding out how long does your laser cutter take to cut. Next, let’s take a look at the size of the work area you will be cutting with.
Size (Work Area)
The size or work area of any laser cutter will be vital to figuring out what all you can use your machine for. The typical working area you will find for most larger machines will be in the 12″ x 20″ (304mm x 508mm) range.
Some of the higher end Laser Cutting Machines will boast a working area as large or if not larger than 24″ x 36″. One of those being the 100w Mophorn Laser Machine.
The total size of the item you are cutting is of the utmost importance to determining the time it will take to cut your work piece. Most machine software will give an estimated time of completion, so you will have a nice projection for when you can expect your program to be finished. So just for a little quick recap, we have covered power, speed, and size for estimating the total time of a cut performed.
You’re probably wondering what precision has to do with the total time of a laser cut. Well, let’s just put it this way. The more accuracy your machine, has the less likely the possibility of your project has of being scrapped.
Nobody likes it when they make a critical mistake on a project that they have worked tirelessly on. When you are trusting a machine to engrave and cut intricate details, you don’t want to be operating a machine that lacks the precision and accuracy to get the job done.
Laser precision is a critical attribute of any good machine. The Glowforge Plus boasts an incredibly accurate laser, “Precise to the width of a human hair”. Which ends up with the potential of cutting 1,300 lines per inch. This is just another fine example of what innovative and amazing machines these really are.
The materials you choose are another important aspect of why it’s very had to determine, just how long a laser cut can take. Certain materials like plywood, cardboard, and paper can be cut typically at the fastest feed rates your machine can reach.
Another factor can be the thickness of the material you are working with.
The thicker the material, the more potential passes your machine will need to make to cut all the way through.
Some materials such as metals, glass, and marble you just won’t be able to cut through with your household laser machine.
Those materials you will likely be stuck engraving until a more advanced technology is made public.
So when it comes to cutting materials stick with these options: Wood, Leather, Rubber, Acrylic, Fabric, Mylar, Cork, and more.
Engraving vs. Cutting
It’s important to note there is a major difference between engraving and cutting.
Engraving is the process of marking an item at a relatively small depth and sometimes non apparent to the naked eye. Not all machines will have the capability to cut through a material, so it’s incredibly important before you purchase a machine to determine all the options that product has.
The two most important attributes will be power (wattage) and speed (feed rate). The more power and speed your machine has, the quicker it will cut through most materials.
Cutting through a material such as wood or leather requires a decent amount of power and will likely need to take multiple passes depending on the thickness of material. Always make sure the material you are working on is safe to use.
Check with your machine manufacturer before laser engraving or cutting any item.
In summary there isn’t just one factor when it comes to estimating how long a laser cutter does take to cut. Just remember there are 5 main components you need to consider. Those being power, speed, size, precision, and material type.
We hope this article gave you a little more clarity and answers any questions you had.