CNC vs. Laser Cutter: What is the Difference, and Which is Better for Your Needs?

A photo of a laser cutter in action.

It’s finally arrived. You’ve been picturing this specially made part for ages, the perfect piece to finish your manufacturing job and finally give your customer the machine they need for their operation. And then you open to box only to discover the part doesn’t fit the way it should because the cuts aren’t as precise as they need to be.

You’re not alone in being frustrated by outcomes like this one. It is now that you might ask yourself, “CNC vs. laser cutter, what’s the difference, and should I pick one over the other for this job?”

When it comes to your business’s products, you need precise cuts for your projects. Whether you need metal, wood, or some other material cut, you want the finished piece to look and function exactly as you imagined it. There are various cutting machines out there, but two common types are CNC and laser cutting machines.

At JFD Cutting, we are big fans of laser cutters for their speed and precision, so we expanded our operations from just waterjet cutting to include our laser cutting options. However, we know that sometimes you may need a CNC router for your project. But how do you choose one over the other? Learn more about how each can benefit your business, and then get in touch with us for a custom quote on all your laser cutting needs!

What’s The Difference Between CNC and Laser Cutting?

When talking about a CNC machine vs. a laser cutter, you probably already know that they are both machines for cutting materials of all kinds in the manufacturing and parts industries. However, to talk about their differences, you first must understand their similarities. Both types are controlled by Computer Numerical Control, or CNC, machines. You can expect both cutters to produce highly accurate end products, and they are both very precise in their cutting capabilities.

The main difference between the two is how they cut. With a CNC router, contact cutting happens with router bits and rotating blades. The machine gets its instructions from commands on the computer, and then the bits and blades follow these instructions and cut the piece on the preprogrammed pattern.

A laser cutter uses a laser, or heat, to do the cutting or engraving, so it is not contact-based cutting. The laser beam passes through a lens and cuts based on a predetermined pattern through a computer.

The other significant difference between the two types of machinery is their speed. CNC routers are often slower than lasers simply because they have more moving parts and the fact that they are contact cutters. It takes longer for the CNC router with mechanical parts to cut through a piece than it takes a laser to cut through an item.

What Are the Advantages of Laser Cutting?

When you choose laser cutting machines to do your cutting, you can expect that the laser will be able to cut through many types of materials, including even the most rigid materials. Lasers are highly accurate and precise and have low lead times.

They can sometimes offer lower costs to the customer because they can be used for runs of all sizes, from small to large, without compromising on the quality of the finished product. And even though a laser produces heat to cut, you will rarely find that the cut material is warped or damaged.

Are There Advantages to CNC Cutting?

CNC cutting machines are incredibly accurate, especially when compared to traditional manual cutting methods, and have exceptional capabilities in making curves and cutting through complex materials. The smooth finish these machines can produce on curves makes for a straight and smooth edge that you will not find with many other types of cutting.

CNC vs. Laser Cutter: Which is Better for My Business?

Both laser cutters and CNC routers have benefits that can translate into high-quality products for your business, but the cutter you choose to work with can depend on several factors. Depth of cut, the type of material you need cut, and your turnaround time may be significant considerations.

If you need any kind of laser engraving done for your project, that’s another factor. Laser cutting tools can engrave while CNC machines cannot. It is best to speak with the experts at JFD Cutting if you’re having trouble determining what type of cutting tool is best suited for your project.

Why Choose JFD Cutting for Your Laser Cutting Needs?

Ultimately, the type of cutter you decide to go with depends on your preference. When thinking about a CNC vs. laser cutter, there are very few advantages of one over the other for most projects. If you choose our laser cutting services here at JFD Cutting, you can rest assured that your project will be done quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively.

There will be no more opening your newly delivered product to a package full of disappointment. Feel excited that what you ordered is done right, every time. We can work with you through many different project types, whether that’s a custom part, something for your manufacturing production needs, or simply a laser-engraved sign. Let us CUT IT OUT for you! Get in touch with us today if you have any questions.