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Why Use All Metals Fabrication for Flat Sheet Metal Laser Cutting

Author: Rich Marker | Updated April 22, 2024 | March 14, 2023
flat sheet metal laser cutting

All Metals Fabrication continues to make metal fabrication services better for our customers. We understand that short lead times, competitive pricing and top-level quality are all essential for happy customers.

To that end, All Metals Fabrication is introducing our newest flat sheet laser cutting machine—the Mitsubishi 10kW fiber laser with automated material towers. We now have capacity to cut both sheet metal and plate metal around the clock, including lights-out technology—laser cutting that truly allows our customers to sleep at night while their parts are being tirelessly cut!

Why Is Automation so Critical in Today’s Flat Sheet Laser Cutting Shops?

Flat sheet and flat plate laser cutting have entered a new frontier as power and speed have begun to completely revolutionize the industry. Fiber laser power is being developed at such extremely high levels that machines now cut faster than human hands can process.

In other words, loading metal on and off the machine is the bottleneck. With today’s incredible cutting speeds, machines will sit idle waiting for manpower to offload the parts and then onload the raw metal sheet for the next round of cutting.

The key here is an old operational term called throughput.

Cutting metal fast only leads to improved efficiency if the parts are moving on and off the machine just as fast. Hence, automation has become a critical component to the powerful fiber technology that is now available.

Not All Automation Is Created Equal—What Makes AMF’s Automation Unique?

Automatically loading sheets onto the laser from a tower of stacked metal is only half of the battle. Metal also must be offloaded just as quickly. Some shops have invested in tower loading automation, but even fewer shops have invested in the offloading part of the automation.

AMF has both automated loading and offloading. Both are essential to maximize throughput and productivity.

In addition, many metal fabricators claim to have automation which really only amounts to a small shuttle table that must be fed by forklifts or cranes to keep the machine running—again, a very manual and slow process.

The automation is just as important as the flat sheet laser cutting itself. Both must be fast and accurate to create real value for the customer.

Can AMF’s Flat Sheet Laser Cutting Automation Really Cut Parts Lights Out?

Short answer, yes! AMF’s flat sheet and flat plate laser cutting technology allows the machine to automatically load, cut, offload and stack parts while our customers are tucked neatly into bed and fast asleep. Remote monitoring with cameras, computer-generated feedback and even sound all play a part in allowing laser cutting to be successfully done in the middle of the night.

Should there be a problem, alarms can be sent to operations personnel who can quickly assess the errors at home. Cameras inside the cutting enclosure can often tell the story and allow for remote repairs that can be done online.

Laser operators will arrive in the morning with stacks of parts that are ready to sort and ship the next morning.

What Type of Metal Can All Metals Fabrication Flat Sheet Laser Cut?

AMF can cut nearly any metal type imaginable. That includes steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, copper, brass, bronze, galvanized, electro-galvanized and more.

In addition to sheet, AMF can cut plate metal up to 1.00″ thick.

Why Choose AMF for Your Flat Sheet Laser Metal Cutting?

flat sheet metal laser cuttingObviously, there are many places that have laser cutting technology. AMF separates itself in three key ways:

One, we seek to maintain the fastest lead times in the industry. We know customers do not want to wait weeks for parts. AMF offers lead times, in nearly all cases, that are measured in days. Most of our competitors offer quotes in days and lead times in weeks.

AMF offers, for customers that have CAD models, quotes in minutes and lead times in days.

We are committed to delivery dates that rival Amazon-like speed and ease.

Two, customer care. AMF relies on thrilled customers—we are passionate about making our customers happy and stress free. We understand that there are unlimited amounts of pressure and stress in the workplace and our goal is to give customers an absolutely stress-free experience. Not every job goes perfectly, but we work like heroes to make sure problems are solved and frustrations are fixed.

Three, quality. AMF is an ISO 9001 certified manufacturer. We work relentlessly on process improvement and continuous improvement. We currently utilize an in-house continuous improvement program that yields five to seven hundred improvement ideas per year.

These are bona fide ideas that come from the shop floor up. AMF has a continuous improvement committee that meets weekly to review ideas and assign people to implement them. Thousands of ideas over several years have resulted in improvement after improvement which leads to incredible quality and efficiency in our work.

We do not hesitate to acknowledge our imperfections—no one is infallible. Similarly, we are confident in our quality and production because corrective actions and continuous improvement are such a core part of our process and quality management.

Is There a Minimum-Sized Order for Flat Sheet Laser Cutting?

AMF does not employ minimum-sized orders for laser cutting if our customers are willing to use the auto-quoting and auto-ordering online feature. This requires customers to generate CAD models and upload their models into our online quoting software. It always requires pre-payment with an online credit card submission.

In this way, AMF can move through orders as small as a few hundred dollars and as big as several thousand dollars.

Of course, AMF also works with large-sized customers that use traditional purchase orders and bid requests. These jobs often result in orders that are ten thousand to one hundred thousand dollar-sized jobs, spanning months of releases.

We aim to fill our customer pool with little, medium, big and super-big sized jobs.

What Are Common Issues That Stall Jobs?

Flat sheet laser cutting has its own set of nuances that many customers do not realize.

Some of the key issues that help us be successful include the following:

One, accurate and complete models. Incorrect models are often our biggest struggle. Multi-lines, unattached lines and BOM layers can often make life difficult when it comes to programming and nesting models for laser cutting.

Please make sure your models are clean, connected and free of unconnected segments.

Two, hole sizes are too small compared to the thickness of the metal. New fiber lasers are very good at cutting super small holes, even in very thick metal. The general rule, however, is that the hole size must not be smaller than the thickness of metal.

For example, a .250″ thick metal plate should not have holes that are less than .250″ diameter. This can be fudged within reason, but we often get hole sizes that are simply too small to cut accurately. For example, a .065 diameter hold will not successfully cut through .250″ thick metal plate.

Three, part drawings do not match model. This really causes havoc and stalls jobs—drawings and models must match. This is an issue more often than most would guess. AMF is forced to discover which takes precedence, which requires phone calls and emails and unavoidable delays in the fabrication process.

Four, hole sizes do not match downstream callouts for tapping or added fasteners like pem nuts or pem inserts. It is important for our customers to do the necessary research to allocate the right hole sizes for downstream processes.

What Tolerances Can Flat Sheet Laser Cutting Maintain?

Flat sheet laser cutting can maintain tolerance around .005″ but that can be challenging and certainly adds significantly to the cost of the part.

We generally recommend tolerance blocks set at .01″. This is almost always sufficient to accomplish the design intent and can be cut and measured very successfully.

Many times, engineers are not aware that this is part of their tolerance block when making their part drawings. For those that are aware, we recognize that tight tolerances make part assembly a bit easier downstream but like to point out there is a significant difference in price that often is frustrating to our customers and not worth the hoped-for outcome.

Tolerance call-outs remain one of the most significant portions of the cost and estimating process. If you are frustrated by how much your parts cost, one of the first places to look is tolerances.

What Is Stopping You From Ordering AMF Laser Parts?

This might be the most important question yet…😊. Give AMF a chance to prove our work. Again, we promise fantastic lead times, very competitive pricing and superb quality. All of that is aimed toward giving you, the customer, a stress-free, happy experience.

Contact us today and let us put a smile on your face.

About the Author

flat sheet metal laser cutting

Rich Marker

All Metals Fabrication Owner and CEO

Rich Marker is an 18 year, skilled professional in metal fabrication and manufacturing. Co-founder, owner and principal of All Metals Fabrication, Rich has helped to sustain the company’s success over a variety of economic conditions. He has extensive background in continuous improvement, training and process improvement, and emotional intelligence—among other specialized proficiencies. He loves to learn, fly fish, watch college football and devour NY style pizza! He has the best family on earth, loves a good plan, great teaching and the opportunity to get better.

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