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Does Laser Cut really do good to a kit?


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Hi Everyone!


As I read some of kit review posts on the website, one thing caught my eye: more and more kit manufactures are in transition from the old CNC hull pieces to LASER CUT hull pieces. And many reviewers think laser cut pieces are better.


From a manufacture's perspective, laser cut is definitely a time saving strategy and allow to produce a kit in a relatively short period of time. As a result, more kits means more money.


However, from user's perspective, I cannot see significance advantages of laser cutting over traditional CNC pieces. Indeed, laser cutting can be very precise, but it leaves annoying burn marks on the edge of pieces, which sometimes can be not only aesthetically unpleasing, but also prevent rule from forming a strong bond between pieces. 


One other problem I notice is that some manufactures does not set up the laser cutter correctly. As an architecture student myself, I have access to some large scale laser cutter at school because we need to make lots of architecture models. Thus, it was not a surprise to me when I saw some kits have very think cutting lines and burn marks on the surface as a know the problem is out-of-focus lens or wrong power settings. With thick cutting lines, the goal of more precision does not exist any longer. With burn marks on the surface of pieces, I am sure you will leave your finger prints everywhere around your work station.


So in conclusion, I am not a huge fan of laser cutting. I think some manufactures (such as Corel & Mamoli ) have its reason to not switch production method. Please let me know if you have any thought on this topic.


I have attached a photo of a architecture model I made at school using laser cutting. Usually, I will only lightly score the pattern on the page and cut out pieces using a X-acto knife. So I get both accuracy and cleanness. However, for this one I ran out of time and used laser cutter to cut out pieces directly. Although I paid much attention and test cut many times, there still annoying burn marks on edges.



Edited by civilian
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The problem with laser cutting is the manufacturer, not the process.  If they take the time to check the settings and calibrate it can be very accurate and relatively clean.  Chuck (Syren Model Company) and some other companies are proof of this as are some of us who own lasers.  CNC can only go so small due to the mechanical needs of the cutter.  Both CNC and lasers are far superior to the old die-cut methods.


The burn that you see isn't burn at all really.  Some is smoke, some is char.  With good drawings and care in cutting, a light sanding will remove the char and not change the dimensions.  Yes, there is always some fitting to be done because it's wood.


With some manufacturers, it's a problem of redrawing their drawings and investing in the cutter as well as the person(s) who will run the machine so they stay with die cut. Others have gone to CNC but from a manufacturing standpoint, it takes a lot of time to CNC as multiple passes must be made so as not to have tear out. 


I'm tickled with my laser as I can cut parts incredibly small that I couldn't cut using a scroll saw or a CNC.  

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

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