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CNC Cutting vs. Laser Cutting: The Differences Explained 

Views: 414     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-06-16      Origin: Site

CNC Cutting vs. Laser Cutting: The Differences Explained 

One constant in the manufacturing industry is the consumers' need for sophisticated technology to satisfy their stringent and diverse manufacturing needs. Today will be comparing two technologies that have helped machinists fulfill consumers' requirements: CNC cutting and laser cutting.

You have probably heard of both laser cutting and CNC cutting, but if you don't have a clue, this article will explain all you need to know about both manufacturing processes. The word laser cutting is a huge giveaway; however, there is more to it than just its name.

It can be hard to understand what both of these processes entail from loose basics. It's even harder to tell the benefits and differences that each presents. Since these two machines are a crucial part of the industrial process, it's vital to understand what they both offer.

To properly compare the two, we must understand what each does before stating their differences.

What is CNC Cutting?

CNC  cutting machines, also known as CNC routers, use a contact-based approach during the cutting process, a principle similar to handheld routers. However, CNC cutting holds way more benefits to handheld routers in terms of flexibility and versatility. A CNC router is capable of quickly and precisely cutting or engraving materials. It cuts materials like foam, acrylic, aluminum, plastic, wood, steel, and composite with precision almost as similar as laser cutters.

Design data is fed into the CNC machine, after which the program signals the router to carve or cut the desired material. The computer governs the position and velocity, including side-to-side or back-and-forth motions. Using a CNC machine maximizes output by increasing the speed of production, quality, and efficiency.

CNC routers employ subtractive precision cutting, which wastes far fewer materials than other cutting processes, meaning less money will be spent on materials. When you pair that with higher productivity, you're saving time and money.

Benefits of CNC cutting


CNC allows for multiple cuts on the same sheet thickness using the same type of setup. It also allows for intricate cuts.

Choosing Materials

With this process, you have access to work with a variety of materials with different conductivities, strengths, and quality.


Sheet metal techniques, such as CNC machining, produce substantial and durable parts ideal for consumers and functional prototype manufacturing.


Most of the process is automated, meaning that very few human resources are required. Less workforce means fewer wages paid, saving you some money.

What is Laser cutting?

As its name suggests, laser cutting involves using a powerful laser directed by CNC  and optics. The beam is aimed at the material after choosing desired designs, and the laser then cuts through the material governed by a G-code. Generally, the process utilizes a motion control system to focus the beam and direct it to melt, burn and vaporize to cut the intended design. This leaves behind a top-quality surface with well-finished edges.

The laser beam is formed through electrical discharges within a confined container stimulating lasing materials. The lasing element is increased by being inwardly redirected by a concave mirror until it has enough power to emerge as a jet of consistent monochromatic light. Fiber optics redirect the beam via a lens that enhances it, focusing it on the work area.

Benefits of using laser cutting

Laser cutting surpasses other metal cutting processes in terms of precision and power, allowing enterprises a return on their investment on a massive scale! Laser cutting, as a rapidly evolving field, continues to provide new advantages as it develops.


Laser cutting doesn't need a replacement of tools for every different cut. The same setting can be used to make multiple shapes on the same material thickness. Also, intricate cuts do not pose any problems during laser cutting.


Compared to other heat-cutting processes, one of the key benefits of laser-cutting is precision. With a precision of +/-0.1 mm, great accuracy can be achieved without post-treatment. In most circumstances, such a high level of quality eliminates the need for other tolerances.


Laser cutting machines leave only a little burr when used properly, and extracting it is not essential. Of course, the thickness of materials and other elements all play a role. Another advantage is the presence of a little heat impacted zone when the microstructure and HAZ change; a reduced HAZ region leads to more stable and efficient parts.

Contactless Cutting

Since it's a contactless process, machine parts don't wear out from friction caused like that in other cutting processes. This will save money for replacing worn-out parts that can be allocated to other resources.

Differences between CNC cutting and Laser Cutting

While both CNC and laser cutting solutions manufacture precision products and materials, the two have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the differences between the two will help you choose which process best suits you. While both processes generate complex parts and components in a timely and dependable manner, they operate differently.

A CNC system, similar to CNC cutting, controls the laser material cutting equipment. The distinction is in the way the cutting is done. Instead of using a piece of cutting equipment, a laser uses heat to mold the object into the desired shape and particular dimensions. In contrast, typical CNC cutting uses a cutting tool to carve out the pattern. Although this cutting method is unsuitable for all applications, it has several advantages.

One of the main advantages of using a laser cutting tool to create materials and accessories is its remarkable precision. The tool dimensions for CNC cutting are limited. The tiniest radius, for example, is just about 1mm. On the other hand, a fabricator can calibrate a laser beam to as small as 0.1mm. As a result, it's feasible to create extremely precise, detailed cuts.


Both processes have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages and present an intuitive intake to the material cutting industry. Most will argue that laser cutting is the best process to consider due to its higher precision and quality, but it also has some shortcomings that are not experienced with CNC cutting.

One major drawback of laser cutting would be investing in it since the technology is not cheap. However, the quality of output might outweigh its drawbacks. The trick is to find what best suits your situation and manufacturing aims.

With services including CNC machining, sheet cutting, sheet metal forming & injection molding, All Win MFG delivers 100% qualified products on time, efficiently and reliably. We are your ideal manufacturing partner for plastic parts, customized metal parts and customized sheet metal parts.

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