The question as to when and how trimming or laser processing is the better finishing method is being discussed ever so often. The following points have been put together to help customers make a decision:
1) Laser processing permits edges to be obtained in polished finish. This is not possible by trimming. Here the edges produced are vertical and clean but with burrs. Usually they have to be deburrred which is an additional operation. A secondary finishing operation by a chamfering cutter is possible but takes more time than trimming. Furthermore, the workpiece must be clamped very accurately and the program must be very accurately generated.
However, trimming with subsequent edge finishing with chamfering cutter can be done quite precisely if the programs and also the workpiece holding fixtures have been generated with CAM assistance. It is then easy to adapt and modify.
2) The processing times of laser and trimming machines are quite similar. In case of complex tasks they are anyway dependent on the dynamics of the machine drives. In each individual case it will be necessary to calculate whether laser processing or trimming will result in shorter processing times.
3) Laser processing is noiseless and produces no swarf. Trimming is noisy and produces swarf. This drawback is certainly also a reason why the combination of vacuum forming and trimming until now has not been generally accepted.
4) The laser scarcely produces any pressure against the workpiece. A full area, all-encompassing, rugged and accurate work piece holding fixture is therefore not necessary. Nevertheless the exact position of the workpiece is necessary. With exact positioning there will be no fitting mouldings and no clean cut of the laser beam.
5) The cost of investment and operation of a laser are substantially higher than for a trimming machine. The costs for safety equipment, filters and maintenance are also much higher and require skilled personnel. However, even today trimming machines are supplied that do not comply with any of the relevant safety regulations. In any case the user of such plants must carefully check back whether the equipment envisaged complies with the relevant regulations.
6) If the trimming machine has the appropriate equipment you can also produce tools, models etc.. It is a universally usable machine. The laser can't do this.
7) A high-performance laser can be purchased up to approx. 500,000.00 Euro, trimming machines are already available from approx. 100,000.00 Euro on. This makes trimming machines in portal or gantry design competitive compared to robots, provided the expenses for safety equipment and programming are also taken into account.
We hope this will help you further!