Precision Metal Cutting Techniques: Punching and Laser Cutting

When it comes to cutting metal, two main processes come to mind: punching and laser cutting. Both of these techniques have advantages and disadvantages, which is why it’s important to understand the differences between them before deciding which one is better for your project.

Read on as Cypress Metals, a full metal fabrication shop in Salt Lake City, Utah, takes a look at both punching and laser cutting and compares their pros and cons.

Metal Cutting Techniques


The process of punching involves using a punch press—a machine equipped with a die set—to cut shapes out of sheet metal through a series of repetitive movements. The advantage of this method is that it can be used to cut complex shapes with very tight tolerances (up to 0.005 inches). It also has the benefit of being relatively inexpensive when compared to other methods.

However, there are some drawbacks as well. The main one is that punched parts tend to have sharp edges and burr marks, which can affect the overall appearance of the finished product. Also, punching can cause material distortion due to its compressive nature. And, because it relies on pressure rather than heat, punching can take longer than other methods depending on the complexity of the shape being cut.

Punching metal is a precise way to obtain exact shapes and sizes. Depending on the application, different metals can be used for this process.

Some examples include:

  • Aluminum
  • Carbon Steel
  • Copper
  • Galvanized Steel
  • Stainless Steel

A secondary step may need to take place to smooth over any rough edges or burrs left behind from punching.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is another popular method of precision metal cutting. In contrast with punching, laser cutting uses an intense beam of light to cut through metal sheets quickly and accurately. It also produces minimal heat, which helps reduce distortion in the material being cut. This makes laser cutting ideal for projects where accuracy is paramount and for materials that are sensitive to heat, such as brass or aluminum alloys.

Laser cutting has many advantages over traditional punching. For instance, it produces cleaner cuts with less burring or deformation than punching. Additionally, laser cutting allows for much more intricate detail work since it does not rely on physical force as punching does. And laser cutting is much faster than other methods of metal cutting. However, laser cutting tends to be more expensive than punching.

Both punching and laser cutting offer unique advantages depending on your specific needs.  However, each method has drawbacks that should be considered before deciding which is better for your project. Ultimately, both techniques have proven to produce high-quality results quickly and accurately.

Before making your decision, make sure you know exactly what kind of results you need and then select the most appropriate technique based on your needs and budget constraints. With proper planning and preparation, you’ll have no problem achieving precise results with either punching or laser cutting. Contact the experts at Cypress Metals today for precision laser cutting and metal fabrication in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area.