Advanced Laser & Waterjet Cutting adds to arsenal of metal cutting technologies

Santa Clara, CA - Despite having low- and high-powered laser cutting machines and two waterjets, Advanced Laser & Waterjet Cutting recognized that it might have a need for more laser cutting capacity. To fill that gap, the company installed a 1kW CO2 laser cutting machine.

According to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Lester Gragg, president of the company, purchased a 400W Coherent MetaBeam laser machining center to engrave metal and nonmetal material. He liked the machine’s performance and flexibility so much that he purchased a 1kW version of the same machine in 2014.

As a young man, Gragg joined the U.S. Air Force (USAF), where he got his first taste of lasers. These lasers weren’t designed for production of metal parts; instead they were in USAF research labs, where work was being done on weapon systems.

After nine years of working with lasers in the USAF, Gragg joined the private sector. He became a laser cutting machine operator for a California metal fabricator, where he got his first taste of the impact that laser technology could make on metal manufacturing.

In 1994, Gragg opened his job shop. Offering laser cutting for other local machine shops and fabrication shops requiring laser-cut parts was a solid foundation to grow the business. He later added a waterjet cutting system to cut materials such as rubber and foam and thick material, sometimes up to 6 in.

Today, he runs a 15-person shop with annual sales revenues of $2.6 million. The shop has a 4kW CO2 laser cutting machine with a 60 × 120 in. cutting area and two waterjets capable of delivering 60,000 psi and with cutting areas of 72 × 144 in.

The shop doesn’t offer any machining or forming services because it doesn’t want to compete with many of its customers—shops that offer those services.

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