Turret punching and laser cutting are two of many processes widely used in the metal fabrication industry to process sheet metal. While turret punching may be considered older technology, it still has it's place within the industry, and can perform several more functions than a high speed laser can.
During the turret punching process, the operator places a sheet of metal between a punch and a die. The punch presses into the material, pushing excess metal into the die. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) turret punching uses computer programming to follow a design’s direction.
Laser cutters use a focused beam and gas to vaporize sheet metal. The beam cuts through the metal, then a stream of gas blows through the cut area to form the desired cutout. Specially designed mirrors guide and focus the laser beam while also directing it away from the operator’s eyes.
Which machine is better to use, sparks a debate depending on who you ask.
Efficiency: Laser cuttings wins the race in terms of efficiency, with being able to perform over 10,000 hits per minute, compared to approx. 1,000 hits on a turret machine.
Materials: Both machines are very capable of working with different types of metals and materials.
Precision: When it comes to precision, the laser cutter out performs the turret hands down. This is certainly the case when it comes to more intricate shapes and complicated designs.
Versatility: Again both machines also have similar levels of versatility. While the laser can cut through thicker material, the Turret punch can perform more secondary actions such as forming.
Noise Pollution: Turret punches product a lot of noise, and depending on the thickness of the material being punched it can be a potential WHS issue for the user. Lasers produce hardly any noise, and don't require the user to wear sound protective gear.
Cost: While the Turret machine may cost more up front to purchase than a laser, the laser has more ongoing costs. This is due to it's high usage of gas, nitrogen, mirrors and of course the ongoing electricity.
It really comes down to what the job requires; if you work requires precision and has a high level of detail, then the laser cutter is the way to go. If the job work requires secondary operations, then the Turret Punch may be the best bet to go for!