Laser tube cutting is a highly precise and efficient method of cutting and shaping metal tubes and pipes, and it has revolutionized the manufacturing industry. With the help of fiber lasers and advanced software, complex shapes and designs can be cut into tubes with ease, making it an ideal process for many different applications in manufacturing. 

In this blog post, we outline a guide to laser tube cutting, covering everything from what it is, to the technology that makes it great and its advantages for your manufacturing business. 


Fiber Laser Tube Cutting: What It Is

Fiber laser tube cutting is a manufacturing process that uses a high-powered fiber laser to cut and shape tubes of aluminum, steel, brass, copper, and more. 

The process is extremely accurate, efficient, and precise—allowing for very tight tolerances and intricate cuts to be made with minimal material waste.

Due to this fact, fiber laser tube cutting is used across the automotive, aerospace, industrial, and manufacturing industries for OEM part manufacturing, hydraulic systems, and other components.


Close-up view of steel pipes

When to Use Laser Cutting (and When Not To)

Fiber laser tube cutting is best in applications that require:

  • Speed and Efficiency

A fiber laser can provide the fastest most efficient cuts at a wide range of thicknesses. Because of the speed and efficiency of the laser cutting process, this method is ideal for high-volume production runs that rely on tight production schedules. 


  • High Accuracy

The fiber laser does not leave behind a large heat-affected zone (HAZ) and a rough edge like other tube cutting methods such as abrasive cut-off saws, torch cutting, or reciprocating saw. You can be sure of a precise cut with a fiber laser cutter because it is controlled by computer-automated technology and uses an extremely fine, direct, high-powered laser beam to make the cut.


  • Multiple Complex Shapes & Cuts

The fiber laser is flexible and versatile, so it can achieve a range of complex shapes and designs to be cut into your tubing and piping that can’t be achieved by traditional cutting methods. Besides straight cuts, the fiber laser can make angle cuts, bevel cuts, notch cuts, and more to prepare the tubes and pipes for further manufacturing. 

Learn about our tube and pipe bending and fabrication services.


  • Minimal Waste

The fiber laser uses computer automated technology for the most efficient use of material with the least waste. Because of its high accuracy (listed above), you can reduce material costs and waste produced by using a fiber laser cutter to cut your tubes.


When Not To Use Fiber Laser Cutting

It’s best not to use a fiber laser to cut tubes from non-metallic materials like plastic or glass. Any material with high heat sensitivity should be cut using another method like waterjet cutting.

Size can come into play when choosing a cutting method too. Large, thick tubes may not fit the size constraints of a commercial fiber laser cutting machine’s working area.

Additionally, if you have a low-volume production of only a small number of parts, you may opt for a different cutting method that’s more cost-effective for your situation.


The Technology Behind Fiber Laser Tube Cutting

Laser Head

The laser head is a critical component of the fiber laser tube cutting system and plays a key role in the precision and efficiency of fiber lasers compared to other cutting methods.

The fiber laser works by first creating light in the laser diodes. As electrical current flows through the laser diodes, photons (light) are released and this resulting light is pumped through a fiber optic cable. The fiber optic cable focuses this light to an extremely small-diameter, highly-focused beam of light. This laser beam, set to a specific wavelength and shape, makes incredibly sharp cuts into the tube.

The slender nozzle also allows the laser tube cutter to avoid interference and cut various types of tubes, including special-shaped tubes like H-Beam, P-Beam, I-beam, etc.

Learn more about fiber lasers’ advantages over CO2 lasers.


Computer Numerical Control (CNC) System

CNC fiber laser cutters operate by a top-of-the-line intelligent control system designed for optimal performance, reliable stability, safe production, diverse functionality, and robust capabilities. 

CNC technology allows your laser cutting solutions to be fully customized, modularized, automated, and data-driven.

With automatic tube detection and forward-thinking software, our fiber laser tube cutting system provides unparalleled accuracy, efficiency, and versatility in cutting metal tubes of various shapes, sizes, and materials. Whether for industrial or manufacturing applications, the advanced software of our fiber laser tube cutting system ensures consistent quality and maximum productivity. Get a Quote


Pneumatic Chuck

Cutting machine clamping is convenient, easy, and fast—with 3 seconds at the soonest to clamp and high repeat precision.

This streamlined and efficient feature allows for increased throughput and a consistent final product.


Fiber Laser Tube Cutting: The Process

  1. Material preparation. The tubes or pipes are loaded into the machine and clamped into place for cutting.
  2. Programming. The dimensions and shape of the cut are programmed into the machine using CAD software. The software generates a CNC code that controls the movement of the machine and the laser beam.
  3. Cutting. The highly-focused laser beam is directed onto the tube or pipe, melting and vaporizing the material and leaving behind a smooth cut edge. The machine then moves along the programmed path, cutting the material with the laser beam.
  4. Cooling and finishing. As the laser beam moves along the tube or pipe, it creates a narrow kerf with smooth edges. Once the cut is complete, the material is cooled and any slag or debris is removed from the cut surface.


The Advantages in Manufacturing

Fiber laser cutting has taken off as the cutting edge in manufacturing: and it’s popular for good reason! Here are some of its many advantages over traditional cutting methods:

  • Speed. The fiber laser cutting process itself is high-speed, making it a fast and efficient method of production. As mentioned above, this speed is especially desirable for high-volume production runs with tight schedules.
  • Precision. An extremely focused laser beam makes tight tolerances possible—and computer-automated technology makes them repeatable with laser cutting!
  • Quality Cuts. The burrs, warping, and distortion present with other cutting methods are very minimal with fiber laser cutting. For this reason, fiber laser cutting is the best choice for cutting applications that require consistency and accuracy. 
  • Minimal Material Waste. Because of the high-powered, highly-focused laser beam, a fiber laser cutter creates narrow cuts, resulting in less material waste compared to other cutting methods. This can lead to cost-effectiveness and less material used.
  • Flexibility and Versatility. Fiber laser cutting machines can be programmed to cut a wide variety of shapes and sizes for part manufacturing. This gives them the versatility to take on your changing manufacturing needs.


Fabrication of Laser-Cut Pipes & Tubes

After your products have been cut by fiber laser, they may yet need to undergo further fabrication processes depending on their intended use or design requirements. These include:

  1. Bending. After your tubes have been cut according to specifications, they can be sent to a tube bending machine to be formed into the desired angles controlled by CNC. Mandrel tube bending, used here at McKiney Manufacturing, ensures that tube/pipe flattening does not happen in the process.
  2. Machining. The cut tubes may also undergo additional machining processes like end forming, drilling, tapping, or milling to create holes, threads, or other features.
  3. Welding. The cut tubes may be welded together to create a larger structure or assembly. This process can be done through various welding techniques such as MIG, TIG, or brazing. Learn more about our fabrication and welding capabilities!
  4. Finishing. The cut tubes can be finished with surface treatments such as powder coating, painting, or anodizing to improve their appearance and durability.


Fiber Laser Tube Cutting and Fabrication in Nebraska & the Front Range

Fiber laser tube cutting for manufacturing is just one of the areas in which we specialize in Nebraska and the Front Range region. We work with manufacturers throughout the United States to deliver custom-cut and fabricated parts. Whether local or remote, we are dedicated to delivering a final product that exceeds your expectations.

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