Laser cutting is a fabrication process that uses a focused, high-powered laser beam to cut the material into slabs, plates, or sheets. The process generally uses non-contact optics to control the shape of the output. It is most often employed in industrial applications where the quality of the cut is important, and an alternative to milling or drilling would be cost-prohibitive. Several materials may be used in the fabrication process, including plastic, glass, gemstone, or paper, mostly in combination with metals.
There are several options for cutting with a laser. Fusion, oxidation, and scribing are different processes that have their benefits and drawbacks depending upon the circumstances of what you intend to do with a laser.
This blog will discuss what laser cutting is and different techniques that may use lasers to slice materials.
Laser cutting is the process in which a high-powered laser beam is used to cut or engrave products. The laser is typically beamed through high-fidelity optics, where it creates cuts on certain products. Cutting systems vary based on the desired performance, material type of the project.
A laser beam is created when pulses of electromagnetic radiation are organized laterally inside a closed container. The excitation of a medium produces these pulses through electrical discharges or lamps. The light is amplified as it passes back and forth between two mirrors until its energy exceeds the threshold needed to exit the laser in a single, well-focused pulse from one end of the tube. This can then be guided to precisely where a lens requires it.
Laser generators come in a variety of types.
CO2 lasers are very popular for several reasons. For instance, they are affordable and allow one to cut non-metallic materials or thin sheets of aluminum or non-ferrous metals. To get a laser from the inside of the tube, it passes electricity through a mixture of Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen, Hydrogen, and Helium gas.
The mirrors placed at both ends of the tube allow one to see all sides of whatever is being cut by letting any light escape behind it while concentrating its beam in a specific direction. The wavelength of this generated light is not visible to humans, so do not worry too much about your safety!
A laser beam is passed through a couple of mirrors like a light that passes through a magnifying glass and burns paper. The laser will pass through the material. The system will regulate it by focusing it on the material before putting out heat intensity, length, and heat output depending upon what is required.
Before the material is cut, a 'pierce' is formed. The G-code is a set of digital instructions given by computers. Unlike the old days where engineers had to write the G-Code manually, the software can now convert 3D models into this G-code.
Determining the best laser for cutting your material is largely dependent on both its make-up and what you plan to use the material for.
There are other factors that impact whether or not a laser with an experienced focus or one that offers different types of beam outputs will be the better choice when choosing the configuration of your laser for this application, such as how powerful it needs to be, what kind of wavelength you need, perhaps its temporal mode and spatial mode capabilities.
If you are cutting a lot, then look for a machine with a more powerful laser. On the other hand, if your applications do not require much cutting, you can get away with using a machine with a less powerful laser. Remember, the higher intensity levels will always burn faster and cost more money per cut. So again, flexibility is key because it will ultimately depend on how much work there is to do!
The wavelength of the laser beam determines how the material absorbs the light, so if the wavelength is right, there will be sufficient heating to melt or cut through an object.
The modal distribution of a laser beam determines the size of the focal spot it creates, and by extension, the quality of cut across a material. Typically, a beam is regarded as most effective when its output is Gaussian.
A lens or a specialized mirror is used to help the beam focus to a small spot of high intensity. The spot where the beam's diameter is smallest is called the focal spot, or focus. Getting your laser cutter's focus just right depends on several factors, including material properties, thickness, beam shape, and mode, etc.
Laser cutting machines are great, especially when it comes to certain aspects. For example, one can be used to cut very intricate designs in the material. Also, they come with a customized machine that cuts the material extremely efficiently, allowing the manufacturer to spend less time in production and instead focus more on developing other aspects of their business for growing it in the future.
This blog has taken an in-depth look at laser cutting and what it offers to businesses and consumers. We hope you have found the information useful and will make an informed decision about whether or not laser cutting is the best choice for you. There are some cases where laser cutting would not be possible and you would need to opt for alternatives such as a CNC mill to get the job done. If you need any help deciding, please do not hesitate to contact us.
About the Author:
Vincent Hua is the Marketing Manager at TSINFA. He is passionate about helping people understand high-end and complex manufacturing processes. Besides writing and contributing his insights, Vincent is very keen on technological innovation that helps build highly precise and stable CNC Machinery.