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Steel Cutting Blog

 

If you’re passionate about metal cutting or just keen to learn more, you’ve landed in the right place. 

 

For over 38 years, Amber Steel has been at the forefront of metal cutting services, specializing in laser cutting, flame cutting, and plasma cutting. Our expertise has carved a niche in this cutting-edge industry, delivering precision and excellence across industrial projects big and small. 

 

In our blog, we’ll share a mix of useful tips, innovative applications, our thoughts on sustainability in steel cutting, and more. Expect stories from the cutting floor, insights into how our processes can streamline projects across industries, and a few lessons we’ve learned along the way. 

 

While we keep some of our trade secrets under wraps, this blog is designed to offer valuable nuggets of wisdom that you simply won't find anywhere else. Whether you’re a professional in the industry or someone fascinated by the possibilities of metal cutting, you'll find something of value here. 

 

So, stick with us as we delve into the finer points of metal work. We’re glad to share our insights and lead discussions that matter to our industry. 

 

VIEW RECENT BLOGS

 

New to Steel Cutting? Start with the Basics 

 

Explore our Steel Cutting Blog by Topic 

 

Aerospace 

How precision metal cutting propels the aerospace industry, from constructing lighter frames to enhancing aerodynamics. 

 

Automotive 

The role of advanced metal cutting in automotive manufacturing, driving innovations in vehicle design and efficiency. 

 

Flame Cutting 

All about the robust and versatile process of flame cutting, ideal for tackling thicker metals with precision and ease. 

 

Furniture 

Discover the art of crafting metal furniture, where cutting techniques meet design to create both functional and aesthetic pieces. 

 

How It Works 

A behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of metal cutting technologies and the science that makes them tick. 

 

Laser Cutting 

Laser cutting is where extreme precision meets efficiency, allowing for intricate designs and clean finishes. 

 

Medical Devices 

The critical role of precise steel cutting in developing reliable and intricate medical devices. 

 

Oil and Gas 

How steel cutting supports the oil and gas industry with components that withstand extreme environments and pressures. 

 

Plasma Cutting 

Known for its speed and versatility, plasma cutting slices through conductive metals with hot plasma. 

 

Safety 

Safety first! Tips and insights on maintaining a safe environment while handling powerful metal cutting equipment. 

 

Structural Steel Fabrication 

The backbone of construction, where steel fabrication and cutting technologies create frameworks that shape skylines. 

 

Sustainability 

A look at sustainability in metal cutting, focusing on practices that reduce waste and conserve energy to protect our planet. 

 

Environmental Sustainability in Steel Fabrication Laser Cutting

 

Many of our customers are looking for ways to operate more sustainably. We're right there with you. That's why we're excited to share how, believe it or not, laser cutting can help make steel fabrication a greener process.


Laser cutting might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think "eco-friendly," but compared to traditional cutting methods, it offers many environmental advantages. It minimizes waste, uses less energy, and produces fewer harmful byproducts, resulting in a smaller overall impact on our planet.


But the benefits don't stop there. Laser cutting is incredibly efficient and precise, which means better quality products and cost savings for businesses. It's a win-win!


Let’s break down the basics of environmental sustainability and how it’s lending a hand to eco-friendlier practices in steel fabrication.


At Amber Steel, we specialize in laser, plasma and flame cutting and have always been a "total source" service for quality steel products. Quality is achieved by utilizing the right production technique for the right product.

 

Our continual investment in equipment and technology enables us to offer clients many production alternatives to achieve exact product specifications and tolerances. If you’re interested in learning more about steel cutting or have a project in mind that you would need our expertise on, do not hesitate to reach out! We’re always one email or phone call away.  

 

 

How Laser Cutting Serves a Greener Approach to Steel Fabrication

First, let's consider some of the ways laser cutting minimizes ecological impact compared to traditional cutting methods.


Laser cutting machine cutting metal.

 

1. Laser Cutting Reduces Material Waste

Traditional cutting methods, like mechanical cutting or waterjet cutting, can be wasteful. They create wider cuts, rough edges, and inconsistencies, creating discarded material and unnecessary expenses.


Laser cutting, on the other hand, is incredibly precise. The focused laser beam makes clean, narrow cuts, ensuring parts are the exact size needed. This reduces material waste and avoids costly rework or scrap due to incorrect sizing.


The laser can also handle complex shapes and intricate details that other methods struggle with, further reducing waste. Over time, this translates into significant savings in material costs and a smaller environmental footprint.


The accuracy and consistency of laser cutting significantly reduces the amount of scrap produced compared to other cutting techniques. Even a small reduction in scrap per part adds up over large production runs, saving materials and money over time. For example, in a production run of 10,000 parts, the material savings just from laser cutting's precision can be significant!

 

2. Laser Cutting Consumes Less Energy

Laser cutting is a naturally energy-efficient process.  It works without touching the material, so there's no friction or wasted heat like with traditional sawing or milling. The laser beam focuses energy exactly where it's needed, which means less energy is lost in the process.


Plus, laser cutting is faster, so each job takes less time and energy overall.


The precision of laser cutting also plays a part. Clean, accurate parts also mean fewer mistakes and less wasted material, which further reduces energy use.


Modern laser cutting machines, especially those with fiber laser technology, are built to be even more efficient. They convert more electricity into usable laser power, and many have energy-saving features like standby modes.

 

3. Laser Cutting Creates Less Hazardous Waste

Even when traditional cutting methods get the job done, they can be messy. Processes like sawing and drilling create a lot of friction and heat, which means they need coolants and lubricants to keep things running smoothly. Unfortunately, these substances aren't great for the environment or the people working with them.


Laser cutting offers a different approach. Because there's no physical contact between the laser and the metal, there's very little friction and heat. The laser focuses its energy on a tiny spot, leaving the rest of the material cool, which reduces the need for those potentially harmful coolants and lubricants.


By ditching the coolants, laser cutting creates a cleaner, safer workplace and reduces the amount of hazardous waste produced. It's a small change, but on a scale, it can have a big impact.

 

4. Laser Cutting Often Requires Less Finishing

Traditional cutting methods can leave behind tiny bumps or burrs that can cause problems down the line. These might seem small, but they can affect how the part functions and require extra finishing work to fix. All of that adds up to more time, energy, and money spent on production.


Laser cutting creates clean, smooth cuts with far fewer burrs. The laser beam focuses its energy on a small area, melting and vaporizing the material with very little excess heat. Plus, we use a special gas to blow away any debris, resulting in even smoother edges and less chance of those pesky burrs forming.


The precision of laser cutting also means less risk of burrs caused by warping or distortion of the material. We have complete control over the laser beam, so it follows the cutting path perfectly, minimizing uneven edges where burrs like to hide.


With laser cutting, there's often fewer extra finishing steps to smooth out those rough edges. This translates to less energy and resources used, faster production, and lower overall costs.

 

 

Boosting Efficiency with Eco-Friendly Practices

Laser cutting's potential for sustainability goes even further. Forward-thinking manufacturers are finding new ways to make it even greener.

 

These eco-friendly approaches not only help the planet, but they often boost laser cutting’s efficiency and lower costs, too!

 

 

The Rise of Recycled Steel and Laser Cutting

One exciting trend is the rise of recycled steel. It's a smart financial choice and governments often offer incentives for using it. Most importantly, recycled steel is largely just as strong and durable as brand-new steel.


Laser cutting is a perfect match for recycled steel. It can easily cut through minor imperfections, like rust or coatings, and is flexible enough to handle variations in the steel's composition and thickness.


Combining laser cutting with recycled steel is a powerful way for businesses to reduce their impact on the environment, save money, maintain high quality, and show their commitment to sustainability.

 

Maximizing Material Usage with Nesting Software

Nesting software figures out the best way to fit multiple parts onto a single sheet of metal, reducing leftover scraps and wasted material. It's a smart tool that considers the shape of each part, the size of the sheet, and even the direction of the metal grain.


By packing parts tightly together, nesting software makes the most of every inch of material. With less waste, more parts can be cut from a single sheet, speeding up production and making the entire process more efficient.


There are different types of nesting software, each with its own approach to solving the puzzle. Some are great for simple shapes, while others excel at complex designs. Advanced versions even consider things like avoiding collisions and optimizing leftover material.

 

The Eco-Friendly Advantage of Thin Gauges

Laser cutting's precision with thin-gauge steel offers another eco-friendly advantage. Using thinner materials means less material overall, which translates to less waste and a smaller environmental impact.


Remember the laser's narrow cut width and focused energy? These features make it perfect for working with thin materials, ensuring efficient cuts without damage. This maximizes material use, further minimizing waste.


Working with thinner materials new possibilities for lighter products. This is a game-changer in industries like automotive and aerospace, where reducing weight improves fuel efficiency and performance.

 

 

Additional Considerations

While laser cutting offers inherent advantages in sustainability, there are additional steps you can take to further minimize the environmental impact of the process:

 

  1. Dust and Fume Extraction
    1. Laser cutting generates fumes and particles that can pose health risks and harm air quality.
    2. Proper extraction systems with high-quality filters capture these emissions at the source, protecting workers and ensuring clean air is released back into the environment.
  2. Gas Usage
    1. While common assist gases like nitrogen and oxygen are not inherently harmful, their production and transportation can have an environmental impact.
    2. Gas recycling, optimal gas flow adjustment, leak prevention, and responsible disposal can help minimize this impact.
    3. Exploring alternative-assist gases with lower environmental impacts is also a viable option.
  3. Equipment Lifespan
    1. Laser cutting machines are built to last, and their lifespan can be extended through regular maintenance and part replacements.
    2. In some cases, older machines can be upgraded to enhance performance and further extend their useful life.

 

 

Final Thoughts

The push for sustainability is on, and laser cutting is stepping up to the plate (pun intended). Its accuracy, energy savings, and ability to work with sustainable materials give it a clear edge over older methods.


Laser cutting means less waste, lower energy bills, and fewer harmful chemicals. That's good news for the planet and good news for your bottom line. It's a smarter way to work, and it's good for business.


If you need steel parts cut quickly, accurately, and with the environment in mind, our laser cutting services can help. Get in touch with Amber Steel to see how we can support your sustainability efforts while delivering top-notch results.

 

 

 

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Industrial Laser Cutting for Sheet Metal Fabrication

Metal fabricator measuring metal part in front of laser cutting machine.

 

As dawn breaks, the factory springs to life. A raw, unassuming sheet of steel lies on the shop floor. It will soon undergo a remarkable transformation.  

 

The day’s work is to create a complex engine cover, a piece vital for protecting sensitive machinery. The operator uploads a CAD file, a digital blueprint detailing the intricate design. With a hum that fills the air with anticipation, the laser cutter springs into action. Sparks fly as the laser, its beam slices through the steel with surgical precision. 

 

Within minutes, what was once a featureless steel sheet is now a perfectly shaped, smooth-edged engine cover, ready for the next stages of fabrication. 

 

It’s an example of the marvel of modern manufacturing—a piece that began as an idea, transformed into reality by the precision of laser cutting and the skilled hands of operators. 

 

This transformation, from raw materials to essential components, is repeated countless times across the industry every hour of every day. 

 

In this article, we’re looking at the world of industrial laser cutting for sheet metal fabrication, exploring how this technology offers many advantages over traditional methods—focusing on its speed, cost-effectiveness, and material utilization. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about steel cutting or have a project in mind, reach out to Amber Steel. We’re always one email or phone call away.   

 


 

 

Sheet Metal Fabrication Step-By-Step 

Through cutting, forming, joining, and finishing, sheet metal fabrication offers limitless possibilities for creating everything from everyday items to specialized industrial components. 

 

1. Cutting 

The first step in sheet metal fabrication is cutting, where the metal is shaped into the initial outline needed for further processing. And that’s where Amber Steel comes in:  

 

  1. A sheet of metal is placed on the cutting table inside the laser cutter. This table is grid or slat-based to allow the laser and any molten material to pass through without damaging the machine. 

  2. The specifications for the cut are programmed into the machine’s control system. This includes the shape, dimensions, and cutting path based on digital designs, usually provided in CAD files. 

  3. The laser beam is focused to a fine point at the cutting head, which concentrates the laser’s energy on a very small area of the metal, heating it up extremely quickly and melting or vaporizing it. The cutting head moves over the metal sheet along the programmed path.  

  4. For thicker sheets or more complex cuts, the laser may make several passes to ensure clean cuts through the material. 

  5. Once the cutting is complete, the finished pieces are removed from the sheet. The skeleton of the unused metal is also removed from the cutting table. 

 

Laser cutting uses a highly focused laser beam to melt and cut the metal, offering remarkable precision. Because of its accuracy and smooth finish, laser cutting is ideal for detailed or intricate cuts. 

 

To learn more about the basics of the laser cutting process, check out our post on Industrial Laser Cutting vs. Traditional Cutting Methods.  

 

Metal sheet parts with stampings.

 

2. Forming 

After being cut to size, the metal is shaped into the specified form. Depending on the components involved, the forming stage may involve a combination of bending, stamping, and/or rolling. 

 

  • Bending: Creating angles and curves by manipulating metal sheets with mechanical force. Bending is done with various tools and machines, including press brakes, which press down on the metal to bend it at the desired angle. 

  • Stamping: Stamping uses dies and high pressure to shape or cut the metal into a specific form. This process is used for high-volume production where the same shape is needed many, many times over. 

  • Rolling: Metal sheets are passed through rollers that gradually form them into curved shapes or cylinders. Rolling is essential for creating components like tubes, tanks, and other rounded metal items. 

 

3. Joining 

After forming, the pieces must be joined to create more complex structures or final products. Welding is the most common method of joining metal pieces. Riveting, which is less common, does not involve melting but rather uses metal pins (rivets) to join two pieces of metal mechanically. It's a strong, durable joining method that doesn't affect the metal's integrity with heat. 

 

Adhesive bonding using a strong glue, or other adhesives is a third option. It's useful for joining dissimilar metals, or where heat might damage the components (and riveting isn’t an option.) 

 

4. Finishing 

The final step in sheet metal fabrication is finishing. This can include sandblasting to provide a textured finish that adheres well, painting, or plating with chrome or zinc. 

 

 

Why Choose Laser Cutting for Sheet Metal Fabrication? 

Laser cutting is the go-to choice for sheet metal fabrication, especially in precision-driven industries like automotive and aerospace. 

 

Faster Production Times 

Laser cutting speeds up the production process significantly. This machine is fast when it comes to cutting, and it also reduces setup times. With laser cutting machines, switching between different designs is a breeze. There’s no need to swap out physical tools or dies, which means we can go from one design to another in no time.  

 

Unmatched Precision and Quality 

One of the biggest advantages of laser cutting is its precision. The laser can achieve cuts and details so fine that other methods simply can't match. This high level of accuracy ensures that parts fit perfectly in subsequent assembly stages, reducing or even eliminating the need for further machining. That means faster production from start to finish. 

 

Less Waste, More Savings 

Laser cutting is incredibly efficient in terms of material use. The laser beam is so precise that it minimizes excess cut, maximizing the number of parts that can be created from a single sheet.  

 

Lower Labour Costs 

Thanks to laser cutting's automation capabilities, fewer hands are needed on deck. This helps reduce costs and minimizes human errors, leading to a smoother, more efficient production line. 

 

Plasma cutting is also a viable option for sheet metal fabrication. In general, it is a cheaper and easier process than laser cutting, and can be carried out with a handheld device. To learn more about plasma cutting, read our post on How Plasma Cutting Works & Its Advantages

 

 

Is it Worth Outsourcing Laser Cutting for Sheet Metal Fabrication? 

Sheet metal fabrication involves a lot of steps, from cutting all the way to finishing. You might wonder why we choose to specialize exclusively in laser cutting instead of handling the entire process.

 

There are good reasons for that

 

  • We pour all our efforts and resources into the cutting process, a specialization that leads to unmatched efficiency and quality. By concentrating solely on cutting, we've invested in the latest technologies and attracted skilled operators who are serious about their craft. This means that when you trust us with your cutting needs, you're benefiting from top-tier expertise that's hard to find elsewhere. 

  • Specialization allows us to work more efficiently, which translates into lower costs for you. We can achieve economies of scale, optimize our resource use, and maintain lower overhead costs than companies that try to cover every stage of fabrication.  

  • Outsourcing laser cutting allows you to scale up or down production without adjusting your workforce or investing in new equipment.  Our operation is designed to adapt quickly and efficiently, meeting your needs, whether they spike unexpectedly or grow over time. 

 

Our approach not only ensures excellence in the parts we produce but also supports the overall success of your projects by allowing you to focus on your core competencies while leaving the intricate cutting details to us.  

 

 

Let Amber Steel Handle Your Sheet Metal Cutting 

At Amber Steel, our 72-inch wide laser cutter means we can handle larger sheets of metal than most. We’re not stuck on standard sizes. It’s great for making big parts or getting the most out of each sheet.  

 

And as discussed, our focus on specialized laser cutting means we deliver high-quality parts efficiently and effectively. We’re here to provide the precise cuts and quick turnaround times that our clients depend on. Amber Steel is more than equipped to support your projects and keep things moving smoothly.  

 

So, if you’re looking for a reliable partner in the steel fabrication industry, consider how Amber Steel can help you achieve more with your projects. Whether you need large-scale production or specific custom parts, we’re equipped to deliver exactly what you need. 

  

Learn more about steel cutting by contacting us today. Or, reach out with an email or phone call if you have a project in mind and wish to discuss it with industry experts.  

 

 

 

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