The Basics Of Laser Cutting & Engraving

A laser cutter uses a beam from a laser to slice through an object with the help of a computer system to give the laser cutter directions.

The laser nears the object undergoing cutting from the side. If there isn’t an edge of an object to approach, then a puncture can be produced. The laser beam is concentrated and pulsed onto the material to be cut so that a puncture is formed and cutting can be continued. Oftentimes, a spray of air, oil or water onto the object occurs after the cutting to clean away left-behind steel. It can additionally stop “splash back” of debris onto the cutting lens. Laser beams are focused by means of lenses. A laser beam can be focused enough to be 0.004 inch. Lasers take a large amount of energy to function. This may be the only disadvantage that they hold in the manufacturing environment.

Lasers can sever a large amount of materials such as steel, aluminum, wood, foam, plastic, fabric, vinyl, leather, paper, acrylic, film, rubber, ceramics and glass.

Laser Categories

  • One type of laser is a CO2 laser. In this category of laser, a mixture of gas is brought to an energized state in order for the laser to perform. The mixture contains the elements helium, nitrogen and carbon.
  • Another type of laser used in laser cutting is a neodymium (Nd) laser. This laser employs the exact employability as the CO2 laser, but employs a crystal with diminutive amounts of neodymium in it instead of a mixture of gas for the medium.
  • A third type of laser is the neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd-YAG) laser. The distinction between the two types of lasers is only in employability. The neodymium laser has a slow repetition speed and can be employed in high energy uses and for boring. Nd-YAG is employed for engraving and boring yet is extremely high energy.

Methods of Cutting

There are many methods that a laser slices an object explains Kal from Krintech, a leading laser engraving company in London. In vaporization, which is for materials like metals that are non-ferrous, the object is heated faster than it can dissipate the heat and it is vaporized. The material reaches an extremely high temperature, 50,000 degrees, the cut or kerf elongates, and vaporization continues. In the cutting process referred to as melt and blow, a gas under high pressure blows the molten material away from the cutting zone. The material that is cut is most often a metal. In thermal stress cracking, a brittle material comes into contact with the laser’s heat and a stress crack is made. The crack is continued through with the laser beam to complete the cut. This process is mainly used during cutting of glass. There are many other ways of laser cutting as well.

Benefits of Using a Laser Cutter

By employing a laser beam to cut, the material is not contaminated during the cutting action since the object being cut does not meet with a cutting tool. The employment of the laser cutter also speeds up the production line actions. The light beam is also very accurate, offering an extremely decisive cut. There is reduced erosion on the machinery involved since there is no wear involved on the laser. This also saves on costs since there is not as much repair involved in the machinery. From engraving to cutting, laser cutters have many uses and there are many advantages to using a laser in the cutting process in a manufacturing setting.

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