Laser cutting is the process of using a laser cutting machine to cut into materials such as metal. Laser cutting was once used only by industrial manufacturing companies but with the advent of inexpensive laser machines, it’s now becoming commonplace. But laser machines come with different specs and wattage is one of the most important features to consider when making a purchase decision.
Can a 40 Watt Laser Cut Metal?
A 40 Watt laser isn’t the best option for cutting metal. Cutting metal will require a laser machine with higher wattage. If you own a 40-watt laser machine, you can only use it on thinner materials like acrylic. I have written a detailed buying guide for laser machines that are best suited for metal and wood. Check it out here.
What Can a 40 Watt Laser Cut?
Even though the 40-watt laser may not cut metal, you can still use it for laser cutting lots of other materials. The rule of thumb is to use the laser machine on materials that are softer than metal.
A 40 Watt laser would work best when using the following materials:
- Card stock
- Natural and synthetic fabric
A 40 Watt laser can cut through the materials listed above, although depending on the type of wood you’re using, it may need a second pass to get a clean cut all the way through.
For detailed information on the best materials for laser engraving then check out this article.
What Wattage Laser Will Cut Metal?
Most metals, including stainless steel and aluminum, need at least 300 Watts to cut through them, so the higher wattage you have in your laser cutting machine, the faster your metal surface will melt. Most lasers that cut metal are pricey and can easily cost as much as $10,000. But you can still get a good one for much less. Refer to this buying guide that has great machines that go for under $5000.
When it comes to purchasing a laser cutter for cutting through metal, you’ll want to do your research and find one that’s right for you and that fits your budget.
How Thick of Metal Can a Laser Cut?
Depending on the wattage of the laser cutting machine, it can cut through different thickness levels of metal. The lower the wattage, the lower the inches the machine can cut through.
Below are some examples of machine wattage and how many inches it can cut through:
- 6,000-watt machine – 2.75 inches
- 4.000-watt machine – 1 in
What Other Tools Can Be Used to Cut Metal?
Metal is a tough surface to cut through and to ensure your safety, you have to have the right tools. If you don’t want to invest in a laser cutting machine, there are other ways you can cut through metal, although you may not be able to get a detailed design.
Here are other options of cutting through metal:
- Waterjet Cutting
Before the laser cutting machine, there was only one player in the metal cutting game, and it was the Waterjet cutter. With this type of cutting, 60,000 pounds of pressurized water was fired onto the metal surface. Water could be mixed with grains to cut through thicker metal surfaces if need be.
- Plasma Cutting
This form of cutting is only used on metal surfaces, and plasma cutting can cut through any thickness of metal, unlike a laser. This process uses electrically conductive gas to transfer energy through the machine’s torch that cuts the metal.
- Oxyfuel Gas Cutting
This method is a little more strenuous than other cutting methods. This process involves multiple cutting processes to cut metal through chemical reactions of oxygen at high temperatures. A ‘jet’ of pure oxygen is steamed into a specific area, which causes a chemical reaction that forms into iron dioxide. The oxygen steam blows away the iron dioxide, displaying the cut metal.
Cutting through metal isn’t the easiest process, but with the right tools, equipment and technique, you can be a pro in no time! Once get the gist of it, it can be a lucrative hobby because there is always a demand for this service. And there aren’t very many people doing it. This is why we believe that starting a laser engraving business can be a very profitable venture.