The Differences Between Tube And Sheet Laser Cutting


Laser cutting has become an essential technology in various industries, offering precise and efficient cutting solutions. When it comes to laser cutting, two common techniques are tube laser cutting and sheet laser cutting. Although they both involve the use of lasers, there are significant differences between them. In this article, we’ll explore these differences and help you understand which technique is best for your specific needs.

The Differences Between Tube And Sheet Laser Cutting

1. Shape of the Workpiece

One of the main differences between tube and sheet laser cutting is the shape of the workpiece. Tube laser cutting focuses on cylindrical or tubular objects, while sheet laser cutting deals with flat sheets. This fundamental distinction affects the setup and operation of the cutting machines.

  • Tube laser cutting

Tube laser cutting focuses on cutting tubes or pipes with various shapes and sizes. This technique is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and construction. By using a high-powered laser beam, tube laser cutting can accurately cut through the walls of tubes, creating complex shapes and designs. It is ideal for applications that require intricate cuts, such as exhaust systems, roll cages, and structural components.

  • Sheet laser cutting

Plate laser cutting is mainly used to cut flat metal plates, and can cut various stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum alloy, and other metal materials. Before laser cutting machines became widely popular, the forming of metal sheets mainly relied on stamping, flame cutting, plasma cutting, etc. The technology is widely used in industries such as manufacturing, signage, and electronics. Laser cutting of sheet metal uses a laser beam to vaporize or melt material, resulting in clean, precise cuts. It is suitable for producing parts with complex designs such as brackets, casings and decorations.

While both methods utilize laser technology for cutting, their primary difference lies in the shape of the material being cut. Tube laser cutting is ideal for working with cylindrical objects, while sheet laser cutting is perfect for flat materials.

2. The Cutting Process

The basic concept of cutting by laser pipe cutting machine is not much different from that of laser sheet cutting machine.

Laser pipe cutting machine is mainly used for standard metal pipes (rectangular steel, rectangular pipes, stainless steel square pipes, etc. ), aluminum alloy profiles (channel steel, angle steel, etc.), and some special-shaped pipes are laser cut. Tube laser cutting involves rotating the tube while the laser beam moves along its length, allowing for 360-degree cutting capability.

On the other hand, sheet laser cutting moves the laser beam across the flat sheet, following the programmed cutting path. The cutting plane consists of a nearly vertical plane that absorbs laser radiation to heat and melts. This variance in cutting techniques results in different capabilities and limitations. Therefore, laser cutting technology with high efficiency, high energy and high flexibility is the only choice for the sheet metal processing industry in terms of accuracy, speed and efficiency.

3. Cutting Speed Comparison

When laser cutting pipes, the cutting speed must be within a certain range to obtain better cutting quality. If the cutting speed is too slow, too much heat will accumulate on the surface of the pipe, the heat-affected zone will become larger, the cutting seam will become wider, and the discharged hot melt material will burn the surface of the cut, making the surface of the cut rough.

When the cutting speed increases, the average slit width around the pipe circumference becomes smaller, and the smaller the diameter of the pipe being cut, the more obvious this effect is. As the cutting speed increases, the laser action time shortens, the total energy absorbed by the pipe decreases, the temperature of the front end of the pipe decreases, and the width of the slit decreases. If the cutting speed is too fast, the pipe may not be cut through or maybe cut continuously. This affects the overall cutting quality.

The power of the laser will affect the speed of the laser equipment cutting the plate, and the cutting speed of the laser equipment will affect the cutting quality of the plate. Under certain conditions of laser power, there is an optimal cutting speed range. If the speed is too fast or too slow, it will affect the surface flatness of the cutting material.

  • Cutting speed too fast

1. The laser beam and the material are in contact with each other for a short time, which may result in inability to cut and sparks flying.

2. Some areas can be cut off, but some areas cannot.

3. Causes delamination of the entire cutting section.

4. As a result, the plate cannot be cut in time, the cutting section shows diagonal lines, and the lower part has melt stains, as shown in the figure below.

  • Cutting speed is too slow

1. The interaction time between the material and the laser increases, causing the cutting plate to be over-melted and the cutting section to be rough.

2. The cutting slit will become wider accordingly, causing overburning at smaller rounded corners or sharp corners, and the ideal cutting effect will not be achieved.

3. The cutting efficiency is low, which affects production capacity.

  • How to judge cutting speed

Reasonable cutting speed: cutting sparks spread from top to bottom, the cutting surface is smooth, and there is no slag in the lower part.

Cutting speed is too fast: cutting sparks are tilted.

The cutting speed is too slow: the cutting sparks appear non-diffuse and few, condensed together.

4. Machine Application

Moreover, the applications of tube and sheet laser cutting differ significantly. Tube laser cutting is commonly used for applications that require curved or irregular shapes, while sheet laser cutting is ideal for producing parts with straight edges and flat surfaces. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in choosing the right technique for your specific project.


In conclusion, tube and sheet laser cutting are two distinct techniques with their advantages and applications. Tube laser cutting excels in cutting tubes and pipes with complex shapes, while sheet laser cutting is ideal for flat metal sheets. By understanding the differences between these two techniques, you can make an informed decision and choose the most suitable cutting method for your needs.