Laser Cutting

Subtractive manufacturing techniques are typical operations in sheet metal fabrication where a desired part is created by progressively removing material from a raw metal sheet.

At IMS we use Punching and Laser Cutting to process sheet metal.

The process focuses the laser beam on the material surface to burn, vaporize or melt materials and produce desired outcomes. Since it is a precise and accurate process, it makes fabricating components with intricate details easier.

Here at IMS, we use the Trumpf TLF 3200 CO2 Laser for cutting sheet metal components quickly and efficiently. We have two different laser heads; a 5” focus lens and a 7.5” focus lens used to cut through different materials and thicknesses. 

Laser Cutting

Benefits of Using a Laser Cutter

  1. Lasers can cut through materials very quickly, up to 20-70”/minute. Since laser cutters can be automated, it can be programmed to be run without an operator for extended periods of time thus increasing the overall efficiency of the cutting process.

  2. Laser cutting produces parts with near-zero tolerance, meaning the dimensions between the cut lines don’t vary much. This accuracy is ideal for precision engineering and manufacturing, as it ensures the parts are precisely what they need.

  3. Laser cutters have low power utilization as it does not have many moving parts within the machine. Most laser cutters can function with 8-10 kW energy whereas most other processes use up to 5 times energy.

  4. Laser cutting can reduce the amount of material used in the production process, reducing the waste amount during the cutting process.

  5. Parts cut by laser most often do not need further processing and since the HAZ (heat affected zone) is quite small, there is no warpage to the parts.

Which Materials Can Be Utilized in Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting of metal reduces distortion and the risk of component failure. Lasers are effective in cutting various materials, commonly including:

  • Hot rolled steel

  • Cold rolled steel

  • Coated steel

  • Hot-dipped galvanized steel

  • Electrogalvanized steel

  • Aluminized steel

  • Galvannealed steel

  • Galvalume steel

  • Pre-painted steel

For further details regarding our sheet metal laser cutting services or sheet metal laser cut components, please reach out to IMS Manufacturing.

Materials Unsuited for Laser Cutting

Below are materials that pose challenges or limitations when subjected to laser cutting processes.

Certain Plastics

Though laser cutting is viable for some plastics, others present difficulties. Primarily, plastics constitute the majority of materials incompatible with laser cutting. Notable examples include:

  • Polyvinyl chloride. Laser cutting generates high concentrations of acids and hazardous fumes, jeopardizing both safety and equipment integrity.

  • Polycarbonate. While thin sections may be feasible, thicker portions tend to suffer from severe discoloration or burning.

  • Polyethylene (HDPE) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). These plastics melt too readily, yielding subpar cuts. ABS also emits toxic fumes, including cyanide and various derivatives.

Our experts are always ready to talk to you about sheet metal fabrication, laser cutting, and other materials.


Fiberglass, composed of glass and epoxy resin, presents challenges due to the reflective nature of glass and the emission of toxic fumes from epoxy resin, including hydrogen cyanide and various hydrocarbons.

Coated Carbon Fiber

Epoxy resin present in coated carbon fiber renders it unsuitable for laser cutting, as it generates harmful fumes during the process.

Polystyrene and Polypropylene Foam

These materials are often considered too flammable for laser cutting, leading to burning, misshaping, and discoloration. However, advancements in laser technology have enabled some facilities to cut thinner sections of these foams, albeit with caution due to their flammability.

Where are Laser Cut Parts Utilized?

Because of their minimal setup costs, quick turnaround time, and adaptability for low and medium-volume production, laser-cut parts find extensive applications across various fields and industries.

Common applications for sheet metal laser cutting include:

  • Automotive components

  • Aerospace industry

  • Recreational vehicles manufacturing

  • Medical equipment production

  • Consumer electronics assembly

  • Furniture fabrication

For instance, in the automotive sector, lasers are employed to cut intricate parts of the chassis, perform secondary processing on hydroformed components, and even fabricate airbags.

While sheet metal fabrication laser cutting is predominantly associated with metal component fabrication due to the challenges posed by mechanical cutting or stamping, it’s also feasible for producing parts from plastics and other materials on a large scale.

The sales of laser cutting machines have experienced an average annual increase of 10% in recent years, mirroring the advancements in laser cutting technology and its superior performance relative to alternatives available in the market.


A punch or punching machine uses pre-formed dies and punches to transform sheet metal blanks into formed products and parts. The punches pass through the sheet metal, while the dies are located on the opposite side of the sheet metal. As the punch moves downwards into the die, the sheet metal beneath the punch gets sheared from the surrounding material. The scrap pieces of metal that is sheared off are also known as slugs and they get collected and recycled.

At IMS, we use the Trumpf TruPunch 1000 to process aluminum sheets with thicknesses of up to ¼” inch with up to 600 strokes per minute. It can hold up to 15 different tools with various shapes and some custom made shapes for specific jobs. We also use forming tools that can countersink, half shear, louvers, and other special forms.


Benefits of Punching

  1. Ability to create cost-effective holes in sheet metal during medium and high-volume manufacturing processes.

  2. The ability to easily create holes in various shapes and eliminates the need for secondary forming operations.

  3. Various parts can be processed in the machine saving setup and programming time, can also be automated.

FAQs about Sheet Metal Laser Cutting

Sheet metal laser cutting is a precision cutting process that utilizes a high-powered laser beam to cut through sheet metal materials with exceptional accuracy and detail.
Laser cutting offers distinct advantages over traditional cutting methods such as plasma or water jets. It provides greater precision, minimal material wastage, and the ability to cut intricate shapes without tooling.
Sheet metal laser cutting is suitable for various materials including stainless steel, aluminum, mild steel, brass, copper, and various alloys.
Sheet metal laser cutting services in Alberta usually encompass a range of capabilities including design consultation, material sourcing, laser cutting, CNC bending, welding, finishing, and assembly.
The cost of sheet metal laser cutting services depends on various factors such as material type and thickness, complexity of the design, quantity of parts, desired turnaround time, and additional finishing or assembly requirements.
To get started with laser sheet metal cutting services in Alberta, all you need to do is contact us, discuss your project requirements, provide project files or specifications, and work closely together throughout the production process. For further details regarding our laser cutting services or sheet metal laser cut components, please reach out to IMS Manufacturing.

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