A laser cutter cuts designs and patterns into material. An extreme laser beam melts, burns, or vaporises the substance. Laser cutting is a production technique that includes narrow, targeted beam cutting and engraving components into specific models, frameworks, and forms as outlined by a designer.
For this non-contact, thermal-based manufacturing process, glass, metal, wood, plastic, paper, and gemstones are all viable options. It can also create complex parts without the need for a custom tool.
A Brief Overview of the Laser Cutter
Kumar Patel, who rejoined Bell Labs in 1961 and began researching laser action, is credited with inventing the laser cutter or laser engraver. He created the first C02 laser in 1963, which is the variety with the most application areas of any kind of laser. C02 lasers can engrave a variety of materials, including acrylic, hardwood, cardboard, and MDF.
Laser cutting is now used in a variety of fields, including electronics, healthcare, aerospace, automobile, and semiconductors. Since lasers offer clean cuts and flawless finishes, cutting metal — whether iron, steel, copper, bronze, or nickel – is among the most prevalent uses. Silicon, ceramics, and other non-metals are also carved by lasers.
One of the most exciting applications of laser cutting equipment is in operations, where laser beams are currently utilised to melt human flesh, replacing the knife. This is particularly beneficial in high-precision surgical operations such as eye surgery.
More uses will be discussed in a later section, but meanwhile, let’s look at how the laser cutting technique works.
What Is The Process Of Laser Cutting?
The beam of a laser engraver normally has a diameter of 0.1 to 0.3 mm and a strength of 1 to 3 kW. Depending on the object being cut and its depth, this strength must be modified. Laser outputs of up to 6 kW may be required to cut indicative substances such as aluminium.
Copper and aluminium alloys are not good for laser engraving as they have good heat-conductive and illumination qualities, necessitating the employment of powerful lasers.
The following are some of the most important parts of a laser cutter:
With the help of numerous carefully placed mirrors, the light reflects in different directions until it hits the laser cutting head. When the beam reaches the cutting head, it is amplified and concentrated into a specific point by a curved lens. The laser is converted into a thin, focussed beam that can cut or scan within this part.
Before reaching the plate, the concentrated laser beam goes out via a nozzle, which also contains pressurised gas such as oxygen or nitrogen. If you’re chopping aluminium or stainless steel, for instance, the laser beam will dissolve the metal before the liquid steel is blown out of the kerf by highly compressed nitrogen.
The cutting head is usually coupled to a mechanical device that is powered by a belt or chain, allowing it to perform precise motions within a small region. For the laser to perform an initial cut, the lens’ main focus must be on the area of the substance being cut.
A laser resonator, an unbreakable glass tube containing two mirrors facing each other, emits the laser beam. C02, as well as other gases such as nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium, are pumped into the tube. Diodes or electronic discharges that release energy in the form of light ignite the mixture of gases.
A precise spacing between the surface and the nozzle is kept at all times. This area is significant since it defines the focus point. Shifting the focal point typically has an impact on the cut quality. The strength and speed of the beam are two other factors that can influence the cut quality.
3 Types Of Laser Cutting
Reactive Or Flame Rutting
The help gas is oxygen, which would be blown at constant pressure into the kerf. When a hot material (in this instance, metal) comes into contact with oxygen, it proceeds to burn and deteriorate. This response produces extra energy, which aids the laser beam.
Blow And Melt/Fusion Cutting
A gas (usually nitrogen) is used to blow molten substances out of the kerf, lowering the amount of power needed. The substance is heated till it approaches its melting temperature and then blown out by gas.
A high-intensity laser beam entirely vaporises the material, letting thin layers be trimmed without ever using gas.
The Most Common Laser Cutters
The kinds of lasers in laser cutters define the sort of substance depth the laser can cut, and the kind of laser defines the sort of substance thickness the laser can cut. In principle, a high-powered laser engraver is best for industrial applications that require cutting big portions of metal and plastic. A low-power laser, on the other hand, is suitable for thinner materials such as plastics, paper boxes, and wood.
The following are the three basic types of lasers:
- Crystal Laser Cutters
- Fibre Laser Cutters
- C02 Laser Cutters
Using a laser cutter throughout the production process has numerous advantages. They’ll cut lead times in half compared to other cutting methods. They’re quite exact, allowing for precise cuts and elaborate patterns. They can make uniform cuts and produce identical goods for large production.
Moreover, a laser engraver is more energy-efficient, allowing companies to go sustainable while lowering their energy costs. They’re also extremely adaptable, cutting through a wide range of materials and producing a wide range of designs with differing degrees of complexity. Finally, laser cutters need less polishing compared to other, less accurate cutting methods.