How Laser Cutting Works
Laser cutting is a laser process that has noticed a much more widespread use over recent years.
The different types of laser cutting processes and their advantages:
What is laser cutting?
Laser cutting is the process of cutting a material using a laser beam.
To either trim or cut down a material or to help cut it into complex shapes. Shapes that more conventional drills or cnc cutting machines would struggle with.
Speed & temperature makes the difference between laser cutting, laser drilling and laser engraving
Laser cutting can cut a vast range of materials and thicknesses. And this makes it an handy and adaptable process.
What is the laser cutting process?
A focused beam of light traveling along an X and Y axis. Essentially, this is what we call laser cutting and laser engraving. It delivers a perfect, smooth and accurate and finish. Melting is what happens as a matter of fact, but laser cutting sounds a lot more exciting.
You can use either a pulsed laser beam or a continuous wave laser beam. The former delivered in short bursts while the latter works uninterrupted. In addition, a mirror or special lens can further focus the laser cutting beam.
This high level of control makes Laser cutting a precise and accurate process. Slits with a width as small as 0.1mm are possible when laser cutting.
There are three main types of laser cutting:
C02 laser cutting
This type of laser cutting uses a gas laser. The gas is an electrocuted carbon dioxide mixture. This is the type of lasers we have at The Cuckoo’s Nest. C02 laser cutting is most often used on non-metal materials as they have a wavelength of 10.6 micrometers.
Crystal laser cutting
This type of laser cutting uses nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) and nd:YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate) lasers. These are crystals which belong in the solid state group of lasers. They have the same wavelength as fiber lasers, around 1.064 micrometers.
Moreover, this means that they are useful for both metals and non-metals.
The maintenance of these machines is costly. They comprise of expensive pump diodes, which need replacement after around 8,000 – 15,000 hours of use. The crystal used also has a much shorter service life than that of a fiber laser.
Fiber laser cutting
Like crystal laser cutting, fiber laser cutting belongs to the solid state group.
A beam using a ‘seed laser’, is then amplified using glass fibers and pump diodes. The laser beam for a fiber laser is roughly 100 times greater than that of a C02 laser when it comes to intensity.
It also means that they can work with both metal and non-metal materials.
A fiber laser is the most useful of the three laser types. Alongside the benefits listed above, they are often maintenance free. The replacement parts are cheaper, and have a much longer service life of around 25,000 usage hours.
The main use for a laser cutting machine, explained above. This is the process of cutting a shape to create smaller sizes, pieces, or more complex shapes.
The laser engraving process removes matter to a controlled depth.
Unlike laser engraving, laser marking adds matter. We apply a black marking compound to the steel or alloy components. The difference being that the laser mark is only surface level.
This is the process of creating dents or thru-holes on or in the surface of a material.
What materials can a laser cutting machine cut?
A laser cutting machine is great at cutting a huge variety of materials. Listed below are some of the many materials:
Anodised aluminum. (Can engrave away the anodisation)
What advantages does laser cutting have over other more conventional cutting methods?
The laser cutting process offers a huge number of benefits over other more conventional forms of cutting:
Laser cutting is a non-contact process. There is minimal damage caused to the material you are working with due to no moving parts.
It has low maintenance costs and only needs inexpensive replacement parts.
The accuracy of laser cutting process helps to reduce material wastage.
One laser cutting setup is capable of working with many materials and applications.
It is much safer using laser cutting than other processes as the beam is safe within a light box.
You have total control of the beam intensity and speed.
These are some of the many advantages of laser cutting.
These benefits have led to laser cutting technology integrating with many industries. These including the automotive, aerospace, electronics, semi-conductor and medical industries.
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