With the advancement of technology, the cutting-edge theory has wholly changed. From manual hand cutting to simple cutting using a lathe machine or some years ago using the CNC machines to get precise cuts, it is now the age of laser cutting. It is the use of laser beams in combination with the most modern CNC machines to cut various materials.
A motion control system like the CNC is used to move materials under the laser beam and get the precise cut. More and more manufacturing units are adopting this new technology to ensure precision and detailing in the final product. Let us discuss the technology and how the best manufacturing units are taking advantage of this process.
How does laser cutting work- The Working Principle
As already mentioned briefly, laser cutting works on the principles of using high power laser passed through some optics and a CNC machine for directing the beam of light on some material. The overall process includes a motion control system that follows G-Code or CNC pattern to cut the material as per design. The laser beams fall on the material, burn or vaporize as per need, and/ or melts it, or gas is blown and moves ahead as per the computer numerical control machine’s motion. It makes the cut more perfect with high-quality finishing on the edges.
Initially, some process of piercing the material is used on the material. The piercing is done on any part of the material except the edges. A hole is created using the high-power laser beam, and then it moves as per the movement of the material attached with the CNC machine to get the particular pattern. It is a precision job and needs quality skilled workers to control the overall cutting process, although most of the actions are computerized.
The Capabilities of Laser Cutting
Laser cutting can be done on various materials including glass, steel, wood, fiber, and many more. With the use of lasers, one can get width cuts as small as 0.05 mm. The cut area is well-defined without any loopholes or trial and error, unlike other methods. The technique involves Carbon Dioxide or CO2 laser for boring, engraving, and cutting various materials. Again, ND: YG or neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet or ND (neodymium) is used.
While the former is used for engraving and boring with high power, the latter is used for low repetition boring with high energy. Wood, plastic, glass, and metal fabricators are using this technology to get more output and have a better cut and finishing.
The Benefits Of Laser Cutting
There are multiple benefits of using laser cutting technology in the manufacturing and fabrication industries. More and more manufacturers are adopting this technology and making quality products than before.
Edges Are Perfect – With laser cutting technology, the edges have an outstanding finishing. There is no need for secondary cuts, unlike using traditional technologies.
Cuts Hard Materials – Laser beams are used in cutting materials with hard and abrasive properties easily, and there is no wearing or tearing of the cutting tools as it is a source of light.
Faster Cutting Process – Laser beams can cut almost any material much faster than the conventional electro-discharge machining (EDM) or water jet.
Cost-Effective – The entire process of laser cutting is more cost-effective than other methods. The operating costs are less, and the process is flexible, and the maintenance cost is low. Thus, the manufacturers can have a cost-effective production process.
Multidimensional Cuts – With laser cutting, multidimensional cuts can be done that conventional cutting machines cannot do. Moreover, the cutting path is unlimited. One can get 3D as well as 5D cuts using this technology without much effort.
The Materials Retain Their Shape – As there is no force applied in laser cutting, the cut materials maintain the original form. Flexible materials with delicate tolerance features can be cut effortlessly using laser beams.
Can Cut Sticky Materials – As there is no touch with the cutter and the cutting materials, unlike the conventional cutting machines, laser cutting methods can cut sticky materials without losing any sharpness.
Less Wastage – The raw material wastage can be drastically reduced using laser cutting technology and saves on the manufacturer’s and fabricators’ pockets. It also cuts down the overall production cost and betters the quality of the product.
Materials To Be Avoided For Laser Cutting
Laser cutting can be done on any material. However, some materials should be avoided for cutting with this technology due to many reasons. Avoid cutting polycarbonates or PVC as they emit chlorine gas which is harmful not only to health but can corrode the CNC machine or damage the optics. Again avoid cutting ABS materials as cyanide gas is emitted and the material melts. More than 1 mm thick Lexan or polycarbonate materials should not be cut using this technology. They can catch fire, discolor the material, and often absorb infrared radiation giving a poor cut.
Types Of Laser Machines
There are many types of laser machines. One can use the fiber laser cutting machine for engraving, etching, or metal annealing. They are used to have high contrast markings. Again, a sheet laser cutting machine is used to cut stainless steel, copper, aluminum, steel, and many more items. One can even use a tube laser cutting machine to cut the tubes despite long lengths or make holes in them. One of the two techniques is laser cutting, and they are CO2 lasers or fiber lasers. One should use the type as per their cutting needs of various materials. While CO2 lasers are used to cut non-metallic substances, fiber lasers are used for metals.
It is best to adapt to the latest technology of cutting and incorporate the required laser cutting machines in the production line. Select the best machines according to the need. It is time to get perfect finishes of the final product using laser cutting machines.