When determining how to cost effectively produce a part, there are numerous options available to designers. At Estes Design and Manufacturing, we value automation as a way to reduce the cost of your part and increase the quality. But when it comes to creating your part blank from the sheet metal, what is the best method? Our automated Max Velocity cell has two different work centers to accomplish this task, each with its own set of benefits. Both have the ability to produce high quality part blanks with feature holes and perimeters, but which is the better choice for your project?
L5 vs S4 Capabilities
The Salvagnini L5 CNC Fiber Laser Cutter is a versatile and highly productive machine that can cut a wide range of thicknesses and shapes. With reduced setup times, the fiber source and optics chain generate a high power density laser beam, and one cutting head makes all the cuts on a part. This allows for high-speed cutting. The L5 automatically loads sheets and automatically unloads parts and sheet skeletons using the ASL (Automatic Sheet Loading) system. Two identical cutting tables that swap places once cutting is completed on a sheet, make the L5 extremely efficient. While the new sheet is cutting, the ASL removes the cut parts and skeleton with a retracting finger system that fits between the cutting grids of the table. It then lifts the parts/skeleton off the cutting table and stores them on a tray that goes back into the MV Warehouse. The ASL will then load a new sheet on the cutting table in preparation for the next table swap.
The Salvagnini S4 is a shearing/punching center that combines the punching versatility of a turret press with the blanking capabilities of a shear. It utilizes
different shaped tools to punch out part features. The machine also has a built-in shearing blade for cutting the perimeter of part blanks from the sheet. An automatic unloading station uses equipment to pick up parts and stack them neatly onto a tray, which then allows the parts to be loaded back into our Salvagnini MV warehousing system and moved to the next station where they will be formed.
L5 vs S4 Pros & Cons
Material Types and Thicknesses
Both of these work centers have benefits, depending on the type of part being fabricated. The L5 can cut material up to .250” thick, while the S4 will max out around .100”, depending on the material. But the thicker the material, the more of a burr the L5 will leave on the parts, and this could potentially result in needing an additional deburring operation.
One additional advantage to the S4 is that if your parts get formed in the following operation, we have automation that can control every step of the process, from the time the material is unloaded from the supplier’s truck until the parts go through the panel-bending process. This is a very efficient and cost-effective way to run parts when all the criteria are met.
For parts with many holes, the L5 can be an expensive operation. The time for the piece alone adds up, in addition to the slower speed for smaller holes. However, the L5 is better suited for creating pieces with unique part features or irregular shapes. The S4 can punch holes very quickly, and the shearing blade makes the perimeter cuts at extremely high speeds. However, if the part does not have any straight sides, then more punching will be needed along those edges.
If you have a small run of parts, the laser is the better option. No tooling is required for the L5, so setup times and costs are reduced. For the S4, the setup can get costly, depending on how many tools are needed to punch the parts, so larger batch quantities are typically better suited for the S4. Setups can be a large part of the total cost of a project, so the smaller the setup time, the less expensive the part.
Need help deciding what is best for your project? Partner with Estes Design and Manufacturing!
There are a number of factors that play into which machine is the best fit for your parts. The benefit to choosing to partner with Estes Design and Manufacturing is the fact that we have both L5 laser cutting and S4 punching options in our shop. We also have qualified experts available to evaluate your parts and determine the best way to fabricate them, considering such factors as fit, quality, and price. Contact Estes today and let us help you choose the best machine that will allow you to create parts in the most efficient and cost-effective way!