Material composition is important to consider in all types of cutting – but especially when cutting with CO2 or fiber lasers. Steel is a dense metal while aluminum is much less dense. Aluminum is approximately thirty percent less dense than steel.
Laser cutting is more sensitive to material quality than waterjet, plasma, and other processes. The surface finish can dramatically impact the quality of cutting and negatively affect cutting speeds.
Procuring quality plate, thicker than .500” was quite difficult 15 or 20 years ago; but times have changed. Today most steel suppliers offer laser quality plate up to 1” thick. Laser quality thick plate has a very tight, smooth mill scale, tighter chemical consistency and typically has a lower silicon and manganese content.
While it is true that these premium products come with a slightly higher price, this added expense is more than made up for with increased feed rates, higher quality parts, less scrapped parts and less head crashes due to part tip-ups and blow-outs.