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Laser cutting a hard file


Aug 24, 2006
I have a request for 500 pieces made out of a rasp like files (56R/C) that I sent to a local shop I sub out laser work to. They said it's not a good fit, no way to locate the blank, and doubtful laser would cut the material. We can get 4 parts out of each file (the 3" version of the attached). Trying to avoid using a cut off wheel or wire EDM. Is laser really not an option, or did my local vendor not want to fool with this? For reference the blank file is .17 thick by 1 3/8 wide by 14" long. I was asking for the two through holes (not the countersinks) and the outside .750 by 3.00 to be cut with the laser. Is waterjet a better option?


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I hope you can figure something out. I've always wanted a small vixen file for aluminum weld prep
I worked in a shop where we cut 1/2" AR400 plate with a water jet. I can't imagine it couldn't be done on a file - but the chamfers might be a problem.
Could one gang them up and water jet them? Bar clamp on both ends with the parts standing on edge? A flat surface to align everything and cut 150 x 3. That would atleast get you the blank, but how are you going to do the other features?
Laser places I have dealt with typically don't like to have to do precision line up small items like that, they want to do full sheets.

I had a job where I needed a laser shop to a put of holes and rectangles in a bunch of rectangle already cut plate 6" x 48" x 1/2", those parts came back with the holes off by up to a 1/8" in any given direction. My guess they didn't really like doing the job because its a lot more work then dropping a 4x8 or bigger sheet on and walkign away.

Maybe that's why they don't want to do it.
I used to register small items all of the time with a template file to cut out of scrap and then the actual cut file, sharing the same origin. But the laser I currently work with is a complete butthole to do anything other than cut from a regular sheet. Laser manufacturers are not at all concerned with making it convenient to cut contours in existing profiles, so it's hit or miss whether a particular laser model will be easy to do it with.

A smaller job shop with an older laser will be better able to do it, because they are used to having an operator at the laser at all times.

Hardness of the material doesn't really matter. If it won't cut well with oxygen then treat it like stainless and power through it with nitrogen or high pressure air (which is what fiber lasers typically do even for steel now) and grind the very small burr. Laser height control may not like the teeth, depending on how big they are. And some lasers are fine without height control active and others are a nightmare.
Pay to cut a ful sheet that nests the files then place files in nests without moving sheet and do your cuts.
Pay to cut a ful sheet that nests the files then place files in nests without moving sheet and do your cuts.
I’ve done this before too. If you switch to a waterjet you won’t have a heat affected zone and you can nest it in much cheaper material, like plywood.