6 min read

3D Metal Laser Cutting: How to choose the solution that best suits your needs

Sep 17, 2019 10:08:45 AM

The introduction of a 3D laser cutting system is a very important investment for a company, so it must be analyzed in detail.

The following table shows some results of the Go-To-Market analysis: Increasing effectiveness in value proposition, conducted from April to May 2017 on a total sample of 397 units (BLM Group laser customers / competitor brand laser customers / non-laser users). As you can see, there are many common factors that drive the choice of a laser machine.

factors driving choice laser machine


Here are four tips that you can take into account to make the right choice:



Choose a manufacturer with proven experience

As for the manufacturer, you have to consider two elements first:

  • Experience: A supplier with years of research and development and market presence in a given technology will be able to guarantee better quality products.

  • Size: There are manufacturers who can even sell dozens of machines at once, with orders of several million Euro. They are the most suitable for interacting with multinational or large enterprises. For smaller orders, we recommend smaller suppliers with a strong customer focus and personal relationships business. Beware of excessively small manufacturers that cannot guarantee local service close to the customer or necessary support services, such as maintenance plans, remote support, training programs and software updates..



What are the technological aspects to consider?

Before buying a 3D laser system, it is a good idea to rely on someone who is familiar with this technology. Since this is a constantly evolving field, the solutions offered may differ considerably from company to company.
Based on the objective, we can identify the following types:

  • Technologies for increasing quality
    In the case of three-dimensional profiles obtained by drawing, hydroforming or bending, the main criticalities concern differences in thickness from one point to another, such as the presence of edges or other complex points to be processed. The management of the cutting parameters cannot be entrusted to the experience and capacity of the operator. For this reason, highly experienced producers have developed systems capable of dynamically and automatically optimizing all the main cutting parameters. We are referring to power, frequency, duty cycle, focus position, service gas pressure and speed.

  • Productivity technologies
    The systems described above, which not only affect the quality of the cut but also the productivity, are combined with an entire series of solutions aimed at increasing the productivity of the system:
    • The most varied possibilities of loading and unloading the machine: manual loading, with shuttle tables, machining in the background, rotary table, etc...
    • Automatic restart, the possibility, after a stop for any reason, to resume immediately from the same point in which the cycle stopped, avoiding rejection of the part.
    • When working on small batches, the ease and speed of production changeover also has a significant impact on productivity.

  • Technologies for flexibility
    They have the purpose of ensuring rapid part production set-up on the machine and include:

    • Easy-to-use software, capable of importing any 3D model and creating the part program quickly.

    • A user-friendly and multifunctional interface that allows operators with little experience to quickly start production.

Find out Artcut and the advantages of programming your workpiece



Component quality

When purchasing any metal cutting equipment, the construction and quality of the components the system is comprised of are fundamental.

This is even more true in 3D laser cutting because very sensitive parts are involved. The laser optical path must be kept absolutely clean and free of dust or dirt. Although the lenses are transparent to radiation, the dust particles which can be deposited on them are not. If exposed to laser, they can accumulate energy and compromise the cutting process, even going so far as to damage the lens or the optical path irreversibly.


Example of cutting head for 3D system
Example of cutting head for 3D system


The cutting head is one of the most complex and delicate parts of this system. Its design must guarantee:

  • Sealed optical path: Some higher-end quality systems have a purging overpressure which prevents dust or external particles from entering the optical path.
  • Small dimensions: This feature is the key for part feasibility. Beware of wires or external components which can cause collisions not predicted by the software. 
  • Presence of the necessary sensors and automation technology for optics and CNC head movement.

Many components require very high-quality, careful design. For this reason, purchasing very cheap systems is absolutely not recommended. The solution is to rely on the manufacturers that invest in research and development and consider their business not only to sell a system, but above all else to establish a collaborative relationship with their customers.

Find out why you can rely on BLM Group



How and where can I find the right system

Where can I find information? What are the events and trade fairs where I can see this type of system at work?

These are the typical questions that anyone who wants to learn more about the purchase of a new technology asks.

On the Internet you can find videos, catalogs, and information on the operation of these systems. This will help you gain preliminary, basic knowledge on the technology, but in no way can it replace speaking with a consultant who can help you find the solution that best suits your needs.

Trade fairs and Open House events come next. You can see 3D laser cutting systems at work at international events such as Fabtech, the exhibition dedicated to the latest trends and technologies in metal forming and fabricating held annually in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

USA BLM Open House


The next step will be to visit the manufacturer to test the operation of the machine and find answers to any questions or curiosities. In this context, a good idea is to test the machinery with a "challenging" part, an object that others cannot make or where the quality of the workmanship can be appreciated even when it is very difficult to manufacture.

Find out more about how to choose the right machine to beat your competitors