Laser cutting is a low-distortion hot cutting process that most commonly uses a CO2 laser for the cutting of material, which is usually metal. "Laser" is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The beam of the laser is an extremely focused radiation of a wavelength, meaning the beam will not dissipate like conventional light beams.
The focused beam of a laser makes it well suited for the energy transfer necessary to cut metal by melting or burning the material along a cut line. Assist gas such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide is used in conjunction with laser cutting to prepare newly cut surfaces for painting or corrosion resistance. An example of the gas assist laser technique is CO2 laser cutting, and it is considered the most powerful wave laser. A laser cutter is often controlled through a precision program combination of CNC and CAD computer systems. CNC systems use CAD designs to input all the necessary machining details into a computer program that then fully directs the laser cutting process, requiring a minimal staff to simply oversee the production and make sure the machines are well maintained. Lasers that are used for cutting may also be used to create patterns and holes in other laser machining and laser micromachining services such as laser drilling and laser welding. Other common laser marking processes include laser etching and laser engraving. Many manufacturers of laser cut products are able to offer custom laser cutting, which is used when the design is too complex or intricate to cut by hand.
Many manufacturing industries, particularly in microtechnology and electronics, depend on laser cutting's microscopic tolerances and precision accuracy to fabricate small, intricate parts. Medical devices use laser cutting to drill catheter holes, hypo-tubes, gas flow orifices and filtering devices, all of which must be perfect since lives depend on them being so. Laser cutting is also used in many manufacturing industries to fabricate precision parts, nozzles, solar cells, gaskets and circuit boards for aerospace and automotive markets. Cell phone parts, computer microchips, transducers and many types of military and communication devices are made with precision laser cut parts. While laser cutters cannot cut through thick metals or create three dimensional shapes in metal plates like water jet cutters can, laser cutters offer tolerances more precise than any other cutting method, with lower edge distortion than most. Many systems we depend upon on a daily basis, such as water piping and refrigeration systems require parts mass manufactured by laser cutting tools.
Using lasers to cut and machine metal has distinct advantages over conventional cutting processes such as thermal machining, mechanical machining, arc welding, EDM and flame cutting. Excellent control of the laser beam with a stable motion system achieves an extreme edge quality. Laser-cut parts have a condition of nearly zero edge deformation, roll-off or edge factor, leaving very little burring on part edges. Laser cutters have higher accuracy rates over any other metal cutting method, with smaller slicing widths and slightly higher precision tolerances than even water jet cutting. Laser cutting is faster than conventional tool-making techniques and has a quicker turnaround for parts regardless of complexity because design changes can be easily accommodated. The use of CNC machining allows for fewer technicians and ensures safety, unlike arc welding, which can be dangerous for the welder and requires individual workers for each piece. Many different kinds of laser cutting services are available, all of which make highly efficient use of materials, creating little waste.
Laser cutting does have a few disadvantages, most of which involve the drawbacks of hot cutting. The material being cut gets very hot, so in narrow areas thermal expansion and warping may be a problem. Distortion and oxidation can be caused by oxygen, which is sometimes used as an assist gas, because it puts stress into the cut edge of some materials; this is typically a problem in dense hole patterns. Lasers also require large amounts of energy, making them more costly to run. Lasers are not very effective on metals such as aluminum and copper alloys due to their ability to reflect light as well as absorb and conduct heat, nor can laser cutting be used on crystal, glass or any other non-metals. Lasers, even low-powered ones, are potentially hazardous to a person's eyesight. The laser beam can focus on an extremely small spot on the retina, causing permanent burn damage in seconds. Infrared and ultraviolet lasers are even more dangerous because the "blink reflex" protects the eyes only if the light can be seen. Although laser cutting and laser cutting services do not offer quite as much cost efficiency as cold water jet cutting, nor do they offer the completely bur-free finished edging of water jet cutting processes, laser cutting is capable of creating tighter accuracies on a smaller scale than any other type of metal cutting process.
Laser Cutting and laser cutting services - Remaly Manufacturing Company, Inc.
Laser cutting - American Industrial Company
Laser cutting services - Astro Manufacturing & Design
Laser cutting services - Astro Manufacturing & Design
Precision Laser cutting - Great Lakes Engineering, Inc.
Precision Laser cutting - Great Lakes Engineering, Inc.
Laser cutters are modern-day tools that businesses use for cutting metals, wood, and a variety of hard materials as per their application requirements. In industrial application manufacturing, laser cutting services play a pivotal role. The vendors of these services are very much in demand, as the demand from correlating industries and consumers surges. Laser cutting is a technology that employs high-intensity laser beams to cut, melt or vaporize a desired area on a piece of metal or material. The new-age laser cutters come inbuilt with laser optics, computer panel, speed control system - that altogether ensure that sophisticated, desired and controlled finishing has been achieved in the material.
What Laser Cutting Systems Do
With this advancement, you can conceptualize, connect, and cut a material. All you have to do is to connect your device with the computer system, follow a pattern or idea, set your parameters, view the layout, make corrections if required, and perform the cutting. An important factor to keep in mind is familiarity with the material type and the required level of cutting or drilling that you want the material to have. Different materials require different types of cutting pressure and laser beams. You will need to test out the setting that you have fixed for the cutting job.
Benefits of Laser Cutting
Ask any laser cutting service, and they will explain the many benefits of this technology. Some of the biggest benefits of cutting metal with this technique are explained below.
Safety: Although laser cutting systems release a high-power CO2 based laser beam, they are a fully-controlled system that does not cook up any risks of material damage or human injuries, during the operation.
However, there is no denying the fact that direct contact with laser beam can be severely injurious to your health, especially your eyes. Adding more to this, working carelessly with this laser beam could also test your facility's fire safety measures. The machines need to be handled with extra care, when working on materials that are prone to catch fire. (These two points can be taken as the disadvantages of laser cutting technology. However, these risks can be abated by increasing the safety standards, and educating your workers on this.)
Easy maintenance: When a laser cutting job has been performed on your plant, less maintenance will be required thereafter. You can easily maintain your premises and materials by ensuring proper ventilation in the working area. Additionally, you will also need to make sure that no flammable gases or chemicals (droplets) are there in the atmosphere. For this, you will need a robust and efficient air filtration system installed at your place.
Further, all the critical elements of laser cutters should be cleaned and wiped down before and after the job.
Fast and accurate: With laser drilling and cutting systems, you can accomplish a fast and accurate cutting job. This is the biggest advantage that this technology has over the traditional means of metal cutting.
Energy-efficient: The laser cutters and drillers do not consume a heavy dose of power supply and do not add to your annual power outlays. These are energy-efficient devices.
In general terms, laser cutting is a technology that helps you to cut, slice or chip, melt, and vaporize a variety of materials. Various industrial processes would remain incomplete without this technology. As the name says, this technology employs a powerful laser beam to cut a solid material.
The word "laser" stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation," and emanates a light that contains a decent amount of electromagnetic radiation. A laser beam is way stronger and denser than any other type of light that we have known so far. The beam emission device can be programmed and the intensity of the laser beam can be manipulated according to the requirements of the application.
How Laser Cutting Works
Engineers and technicians use laser optics and a computerized or computer-controlled device to cast a programmed and well-controlled laser beam onto the material which has to be cut. For large and critical applications, a speed control system is also coupled with the emission device. This way, the laser is controlled and considered safe for various industrial applications.
A large number of manufacturing businesses, enterprises and households hire professional laser cutting services for several tasks. These service vendors make every possible effort to ascertain that the material is being cut as desired by you, while ensuring your safety. Lasers, when uncontrolled, can be a dangerous thing for you. This high intensity light can cause serious wounds to you, in addition to damaging the material beyond repairs.
To assure the full safety for you and your applications, laser cutting services take a number of points in their consideration.
The sharpness and cleanliness of laser cutter: For different applications and tasks, various types of laser cutters are used. Sometimes, cutting lenses are also employed to intensify the job. Based on the cutting process, the type of lens and cutter is decided. By checking that the lens or cutter is adequately cleaned, laser cutting services try to make certain that their process machine is ready to perform the material cutting task. Most importantly, they have to make sure that their lens or cutter is in good and working condition.
The position of the nozzle or head: Another important point that laser cutting services need to make sure is that the nozzle or head of the laser cutter should be in the right position and direction. To test out whether the nozzle is in the center, the laser cutting service provider takes a thin tape and broadcasts a low-intensity laser beam on it. Then, they check if the hole created by the beam is at the desired place. This particular test helps them in determining that their laser drilling machine is ready to use.
Apart from this, the laser cutting services have to take their equipment for servicing and maintenance, where focus test and a series of light tests are performed. These tests should be done as per the scheduled time, in order to ensure accuracy in their operations.
- A steel alloy containing a primary iron component minus any other metals necessary to make stainless steel.
- A device consisting of a series of hollow tubes and mirrors that supplies the beam in a CO2 laser.
- A gas used to facilitate the cutting process and to blow melted material through the cut area. Oxygen is usually utilized for cutting ferrous metals, and any inert gas produces oxide-free cut edges.
- The decrease in radiation power or energy as the beam is passing through a scattering or absorbing medium.
- A group of rays that may be convergent, divergent or parallel.
- The diameter of a circular beam at a particular point in which the intensity lowers to a fraction of its maximum value.
- The spread of the beam angle, expressed in milliradians. One radian equals 3.4 minutes of arc or nearly 1 mil.
- A computer that controls the machine's movement. CNC controls motion tables or position the work piece beneath the focused laser beam.
- Carbon or mild steel made with coatings like zinc plating, mill scale, paint, rust or identification marks. Reduced cutting speeds and more dross on the bottom of the cutting edge are the result.
- The capability of a laser beam not to spread significantly (low divergence) with distance.
- An optical device consisting of two lenses separated by the sum of their focal length that is used to provide a desired beam diameter to meet beam delivery specifications.
- The continuous-emission mode of a laser, as opposed to the pulsed operation mode.
- Metals that exhibit an extreme reflectivity to laser light and have high thermal conductivities. These two characteristics lower the cutting speeds and the highest thickness of material that can be cut.
- A solid crystalline material with a regular array of atoms utilized as laser sources.
- Also called "piercing," it is the use of the laser in the pulsed mode for hole drilling with air or oxygen as the assist gas.
- A characteristic that determines the size of the material to be cut. Bed sizes are commonly 4' X 8' and some are as big as 5' X 10'.
- A measurement that is dependent on the properties of the material cut, the lens focal length and the type of gas in the laser. The width of a cut from a laser will usually be between 0.1 and 0.4 mm.
- The amount of time required for the completion of the laser process.
- The operating span of the focused laser beam calculated as a function of the focal length of the lens, the wavelength and the diameter of the unfocused beam. A shorter focal length gives a smaller depth of field.
- Undesirable variations of either amplitude or frequency of laser output.
- Solidified melt on the lower edge of the laser cut. Higher amounts of dross result from surface rust, poor quality steel and incorrect process parameters but can be reduced by increasing the oxygen pressure and pulsed laser cutting.
- The actual length of time that the laser beam is cutting, drilling, welding or heat-treating, as compared to the cycle time.
- A laser or laser system closed off to prevent hazardous optical radiation from escaping the enclosure.
- The rate at which the cutting head moves.
- The position of maximum energy concentration of a focused laser beam. Focal point is determined by measuring where the laser beam has the least diameter and the refracted light rays of a lens conjoin.
- A coaxial assist gas utilized to attain extreme power levels required for cutting particular metals, usually nitrogen, oxygen and argon.
- A device that blows gas into the cutting zone to clear away molten metals or other materials. At times, the gas reacts chemically with the work piece to create heat and increase the cutting speed.
- A small area next to the cut zone that undergoes changes in material properties as a result of heat conducted into the work piece as it is cut.
- An interference phenomena captured on a plate or film that can contain large amounts of information and from which 3D images can be constructed.
- The slit, notch or groove produced by a laser cutter or the width of such a cut. The kerf is reliant on the work piece thickness, the properties of the material, the lens focal length and the kind of cutting gas in the laser.
- Kinds of steels particularly manufactured for laser cutting applications. These steels maintain the strength of standard materials, but with reduced amounts of impurities like sulphur and silicon, and can be cut to a greater highest thickness at faster speeds.
- Also called "laser cavity," it consists of the optical mirrors, pumping system and active medium. Laser resonators can be stable or unstable based on whether the oscillating beam converges into the cavity or spreads out from the cavity
- A legal phrase indicating a laser or laser system or any other product that integrates or is intended to integrate a laser or laser system.
- An optic that is either refractive or reflective and affects the convergence of rays of light at a point. The depth of focus and power density of a lens can change with differences in laser beam diameters.
- The temperature at which a material melts. Materials having high melting points must be cut more slowly with a laser, since more energy is needed to melt them.
- A method that creates very short laser pulses by making the phase differences of many modes or frequencies in the laser cavity fixed (locked).
- Lasers that provide high-power, short pulses for particular industrial applications.
- Lasers that are like Nd:glass lasers in that they are both pumped by flashlamp and beam transmissions through fiber optics, but the ND:YAG laser light can achieve finer detail work. It is also better than the CO2 laser on highly reflective material.
- A component of the gas jet in laser cutting that constricts the assist gas and directs it to a columnar flow.
- Laser output per unit area, expressed in watts per square centimeter (W/cm2).
- A single, irregular burst of a laser, in contrast to a continuous beam. True pulses attain greater peak powers than what a continuous wave output can do.
- The speed at which pulses are produced, expressed in pulses per second.
- The degree to which a material reflects laser light. Extremely reflective material such as aluminum and copper alloys are harder to cut, necessitating lowered work speeds.
- A sheet of base material that may or may not have an interconnection pattern.
- Laser whose pulse duration time is below one nanosecond.
- The conversion of a solid or liquid into a vapor. Lasers vaporize the metal or material they are cutting.