Time has moved on since I was doing my engineering degree. At the time laser cutting was NASA stuff, and water jet cutting was for cutting coal. We’re looking into replacing some more ballustrading, and I keep passing a laser cutting building on a bike ride I do pretty often. So, we thought we’d find out whether we could use laser cutting for making panels for the ballustrade. Having looked into it more, I find that laser cutting is awesomely accurate – for example, see this tiny bike (from Charles Day website)
If anything water jet cutting is even cooler. it uses a jet of water at tens of thousands of PSI, through a diamond nozzle, with garnet beads for cutting. It can cut pretty much anything, including plastic, foam rubber, titanium, armour plate, and granite (as well as the boring metals), and can handle materials 240mm thick.
Anyway, it feels well worth exploring for our panels, so I’ve knocked up a rough CAD design for one panel (below) for pricing. Maybe I’ll get less keen when I find out how much it might cost, though I suspect that material costs are going to dominate (given small webs in pattern below, I am looking at 5mm thickness, and most of the material is wasted).