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  • Writer's pictureLocke-Brothers

Laser Cutting is Not Your Only Option for Sheet Metal

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

When it comes to sheet metal, laser cutting is not the only option. Turret press is another great option for parts with higher volumes.

Most people have heard of a laser cutting CNC machine; however a Turret Press is unfamiliar. A laser cutting CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine and a Turret Press are both designed for cutting shapes and holes out of flat sheet metal. Both options are effective, do an excellent job, and each have unique benefits.

When it comes to lasers, there are several types of cutting options. Two of the more popular options are CO2 and Fiber. Both of these offer similar benefits; however, the biggest difference between CO2 and Fiber is speed. In some cases, a Fiber laser can cut five times faster than a CO2 Laser. Fiber machines are also more expensive, so the shops hourly rate is generally higher on a Fiber machine.

Our recommendation is to find a shop that has both capabilities, this way your part can be made using the most cost-effective piece of equipment. Sometimes pure speed is not always the most cost-effective solution.

One piece of equipment that you may not know about is the Turret Press also known as Turret Punch. This is a great piece of equipment for many reasons:

  1. The Turret is a machine that uses a variety of punches to punch holes and different shapes out of sheet metal.

    1. The Turret is a CNC machine that is typically programmed offline, and the program is delivered via the suppliers’ network.

    2. The Turret can hold multiple tools/punches at once to accommodate all the necessary shapes for a given project.

  2. The Turret is designed to cut unique features and shapes out of flat sheet metal using standalone tooling or a combination of tool sets.

    1. Not only does a turret cut out unique shapes and holes, but it will also cut the perimeter of the part, removing it from the raw sheet.

In some rare cases, your fabricator will require you to purchase custom turret tooling. This is needed when your custom metal part has a unique shape or design. In most cases your fabrication supplier will already have the necessary turret tooling needed to produce your part.

Depending on your project needs, a Turret can be a great cost effective option for your next project.

Here are a few reasons why a Turret might be more beneficial to you than a Laser:

  • Parts with a bunch of holes: Turrets can punch out around 220 hole per minute.

  • Tapped Holes: Turrets can punch and tap at the same time, eliminating the need for a secondary operation

  • Formed parts (up or down): Turrets have the capability to move material both up and down.

    • Countersinks

    • Counterbores

    • Embosses

    • Hinges

    • Tabs

  • Cutting repetitive shapes, holes, or slots: Turrets are designed to punch out shapes very quickly.

  • Best for higher volume parts: Tooling must be designed and built so the project volume must justify the upfront tooling cost.

  • Forming Louvers: When parts call for louvers, Turret can be the most cost effective machine to perform.

  • Cutting special shapes: A punch can be made to create most shapes.

Some possible negatives to a Turret Press can be the following:

  • Material thickness limitation

    • Mild Steel up to ¼”

    • Aluminum up to ¼”

    • Stainless Steel up to 3/16”

  • Burrs

    • Because of the punching process most parts will be left with burrs. Those burrs must be removed using a deburring or a time saver process.

    • Longer Setup time: A turret press could take up to 45 minutes for a part change.

  • Nibble Marks:

    • The area where a parting tool or cutting tool overlaps itself, in that area there’s a small, minimal dimple created.

  • Part Radius: A small radius’ on parts is achievable; however, a large radius’ is not achievable

When looking to outsource your next sheet metal part, consider a shop that has CO2 Laser, Fiber Laser, and Turret capabilities. Our goal is for you to produce your parts in the most cost effective, best quality, and efficient process.

Example Parts:

Our partner, Professional Fabrication (ProFab) located in Denmark Wisconsin can handle all your sheet metal part needs and offers the best solutions. Our 25-year partnership with ProFab is a testament to the years of great solutions for our customers. Locke-Brothers and ProFab can help improve your design to eliminate unnecessary cost and help improve the overall quality of your part design.


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