Laser cutting technology has risen to the top of the line of metal cutting methods. The precision and versatility the technology offers causes it to standout as the “coolest kid on the block.” Our last blog post detailed the pros and cons of laser cutting vs. waterjet cutting. Now, we’ll examine and analyze another form of metal cutting - bandsaws.
What is a Bandsaw and How Does It Work?
In it’s most basic form, a bandsaw is a continuous band of metal lined with teeth along one edge that rides around two large rotating wheels. Originating around the turn of the 18th century, the bandsaw has both historically and currently been primarily used to cut wood and metal, though various meat cutters do use this same technology as well.
Bandsaws are equipped with brushes or brushwheels to eliminate the metal shards and chips that are generated by the saw’s splicing through the metal. Also, coolant is applied during the cutting process to wash away the metal chips and cool and lubricate the saw’s blade.
Typical and Highly Specialized Bandsaws
Typical bandsaws are able to cut at the rate of 5,000 feet per minute, but specialized saws have been known to cut upwards of 15,000 feet per minute. Some of these unique bandsaws utilize 3-4 rotating wheels, as opposed to only two.
Bandsaw Precision Capacities
The minimum radius of a curve that can be cut on a bandsaw depends on the nature of that particular saw. The width of the blade’s band determines how tight a turn can be cut, and the width of the blade’s kerf (the width of the blade’s cut through the metal) also plays a role. The precision of a bandsaw is limited by these two elements - the width of the blade and the blade’s kerf.
Cut Shapes and Computerizations
Bandsaws are often used to cut curves through wood or metal, but they can, of course, also cut straight lines. They’re touted as best suited for cutting irregular shapes, and there are many types of bandsaws that utilize CNC (computer numerical control) technology. Users can load blueprints into a computer, and the bandsaw makes cuts identical to those specifications.
Horizontal and Vertical Bandsaw Orientations
Both horizontal and vertical orientations of bandsaw designs are available. Vertical bandsaws are stationary saws that move the material around the blade. When horizontal bandsaws are used, the material remains stationary and the saw moves around the material to make the desired cuts.
Laser Cutter Advantages over the Bandsaw:
While bandsaws can be effective methods of cutting metal, there are numerous ways in which laser cutters are far more effective tools for the job.
1. Better Precision
As previously described, the bandsaw is limited by the width of the blade and it’s respective kerf. However, lasers are not, to any extent, hindered by these same kinds of limitations. A laser is simply a stream of light, and hence, it can make tiny and precise cuts that a bandsaw can simply not accomplish.
2. Better Versatility
Think about it. A bandsaw is a continuous blade. In order to cut in the middle of a piece of material, the blade must be cut, welded back together, used to cut the piece, and cut again. This process is time consuming and still doesn’t provide the versatility that lasers demonstrate. Lasers can effortlessly cut shapes out of the interior of pieces of metal, no cutting or welding necessary.
Adding to the versatility of the laser cutter are it’s extensive areas of application. A laser can do more than just cut a piece of metal. For instance, lasers can be used for welding, and a low powered laser can be used to engrave.
3. Better for Cutting Intricate Projects
Lasers are computer controlled and incredibly fast at completing a project. However, while a bandsaw can also be computer controlled, the limitations of it’s function (lack of precision and versatility) cause it to take more time to finish the same job. Laser cutters are far better at completing intricate, customized products and tasks than bandsaws.
4. Lower Maintenance
A laser uses a beam of light as opposed to a blade of metal teeth. The blade of a bandsaw must be properly repaired and maintained consistently, an area of maintenance and potential problems that laser cutters can avoid altogether.
It’s for all of these reasons that Cutting Edge Laser is a proud proponent of laser cutting. While bandsaws can do a great job, we prefer the laser cutter’s versatility and precision, which allow us to complete intricate, complex, and customized products for our customers in short order, without the hassle of saw blades and their associated maintenance issues.
For more information about our laser cutting services, please feel free to contact us today. We would be more than willing to provide a free quote on your project, and we hope that we can serve any of your future laser cutting needs.