Laser vs conventional in pro operations

I was wondering if it's gotten to the point where most parts are cut with a Laser or some other (plasma? water?) state of the art
technology vs conventional CNC shearing/punching etc.
My only parts are usually aluminum chassis for electronics equipment.
I know that there are different ways of approaching a part, like do the punching first, then shear, notch and bend (or whatever).
But how would most big fabricators today approach an electronics chassis?
Say a typical, simple aluminum one with small holes and 90 degree bends etc -- nothing fancy.
Would the part be completely laser cut and then sent to the bending machine? done deal?
THANKS for any answers.
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A buddy of mine has both a laser and CNC punch. The laser is used most because of the faster setup times and increased flexibility. The CNC punch being very labor intensive to setup and maintain is only used for products having either high volume or special features.
The laser works best on ferrous alloys and pretty poorly on stainless. If you need a clean break on stainless the post cleanup can erase any gains obtained by laser cutting. If the part is simple but has a grid of holes the punch will beat the laser. A punch can also do louvers, dimples and other simple forming operations.
The real trick in a small shop is to maximize the up time of the laser by converting the majority of the jobs to that machine and still have enough punch work available to justify keeping a full time punch operator on the payroll.
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Most likely.
--
Anthony

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Depends on volumes really, if we're talking about operations which can be performed on either machine (simple cutting/punching)

Parts which have cuts/punched holes on formed features must be cut/ punched *after* forming (typically). Simple chassis don't require this sequence because the punched features are typically far away from the bends, and the bend geometry is so simple that the bends have virtually no effect on the punched feautres.
I've done quite a bit of work with car body panel dies. The major forming occurs first, and then the panel is trimmed. There are a couple of reasons, but one major on is that forming will distort punched features readily. It's hard to punch an oblong hole and then bend/form the part such that the hole becomes round - easier to form and then punch (for example).

How many copies do you want? 100pcs and they'll use the laser. 100,000 and they'll punch it. There are different ways to punch such a part. Turret punch versus dedicated die set (and some other options in between). Course there are always special instances where this is not necessarily true.

Doesn't have as much to do with features/geometry as it does volume (typically)
Regards,
Robin
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Water jet would do the trick just fine. The problem is that for electronic chassis it is a simple matter to lay out, shear and punch or drill holes and then fold using a brake.
With the water jet they take your drawing program the cuts and cut out the part. Your job would be near perfect to the drawing, but the minimum charge for the job would probably cost more than manually fabricating the piece.
Of course if you wanted 10 parts it would probably be the same price as one, given that water jet can cut through ten sheets just about as fast as it can cut through one sheet.
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Roger Shoaf
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