Cutting and making precise shapes and designs can be done with the use of lasers. Laser cutter is different from vinyl cutter can create different shapes on just about any kind of material. It can cut mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum plates.
The laser cutting process is very accurate and can produce great quality cuts. Compared to cutters and knives, laser cutters have a very small kerf width. Edges are smooth therefore the finished product looks perfect with precise edges and corners. Laser cutters also have a small heat affect zone. Compared to torches and other cutters that use heat, laser cutters can cut very intricate shapes and small holes in different materials.
The LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Based on the acronym, laser cutters use light to cut through different materials. But how on earth is this even done? How can light be harness to cut through a steel plate?
How Does a Laser Cutter Works?
Laser cutters have a fine laser beam. This beam is a column of very high-intensity light that has a single wavelength or color. In a CO2 laser, the wavelength is found in the infra-red section of the light spectrum, therefore, this laser is unseen from the naked eye. The beam of a CO2 laser is about ¾ of an inch in diameter, therefore, it can cut seamlessly and finely.
The beam travels from the laser resonator, a part that creates the beam, along with the machine’s beam path. This beam may be bounced in different directions with the help of mirrors or beam benders until it is finally focused on a plate.
The focused beam goes through the opening of a nozzle right before it hits the plate. Aside from the laser, compressed gasses such as oxygen and nitrogen also flow through the nozzle.
You will be able to focus the laser beam by using special lenses or with the use of a curved mirror. Focusing the beam is done at the laser cutting head. To be able to harness the power of the laser, the beam has to be focused precisely to hit the focus spot. This way, the density of the energy in the spot is round, consistent and centered along the nozzle.
The temperature at the focus spot is extreme. The large beam is focused down to a single pinpoint. The principle is similar to a magnifying glass focusing the sun’s rays onto a leaf to start a fire. With a laser cutter, think about focusing 6 KWatts of energy into a single spot; the spot becomes extremely hot and this temperature is enough to cut different materials.
The Material is Cut by High Power Density Beams
The high power density emitted by the laser results in rapid heating, melting and complete or partial vaporizing of the material that needs to be cut. When cutting mild steel the heat of the laser beam is enough to create an oxygen-fuel burning process.
The laser cutting gas is pure oxygen which is similar to an oxy-fuel torch. If you are using a laser cutter to cut stainless steel or aluminum, the laser beam will melt the material. High-pressure nitrogen is used to blow the molten metal from the cut area.
CNC Laser Cutter
When it comes to a CNC laser cutter, the laser cutting head is moved over the metal plate according to the shape or pattern. This cuts the part out of the plate. This kind of laser has a capacitive height control system that keeps a very accurate distance between the end of the nozzle and the plate being cut.
This is important because it is where the focal point is according to the surface of the plate. There are some problems though. Cut quality can be affected by raising or lowering the height control from just above the surface of the plate, along with the surface or below the surface of the machine.
There are a number of factors that will affect the quality of the cut. However, these can be controlled properly because laser cutting is stable, reliable, and very accurate.
Safety When Using Laser Cutters
Only qualified and trained personnel are allowed to operate laser cutters. If you intend to use a laser cutter for your company manufacturing department then you must secure training for you and your employees.
Training includes how to safely and efficiently operate the laser cutter, how to observe safety using safety personal attire and how to troubleshoot laser cutters.
The most important safety equipment worn by people who operate laser cutters is safety glasses or shades. These glasses should be according to regulations set for safety because wearing low-quality goggles or glasses are dangerous. Safety glasses or goggles can prevent bits of material to accidentally enter your eye. It also reduces glare and protects the eyes from the extreme intensity of the laser.
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