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What is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is a process that is used to cut and melt materials using a laser beam. The laser beam is used to cut, melt, and vaporize the material.
Why are Lasers used for cutting?
The laser is widely used for cutting and melting material. This process also includes drilling and engraving processes. The laser cutting process helps in the cutting of a wide range of materials and thickness sizes. The laser can cut soft material like paper to a sturdy material like diamonds. Laser cutting is an accurate process to cut, melt, and deliver a smooth finish.
Advantages of Laser Cutting
There are many advantages of laser cutting which are described below.
- It provides a high accuracy level with excellent cutting quality.
- There is a minimum shrinkage of cut material due to its low heat application.
- It is helpful in cutting and shaping complex material, small holes, and tilted parts.
- This process is useful in cutting many types of materials like wood, glass, plastic, paper, metal, and gemstones.
Laser Cutting Manufacturing
A laser cutting beam has a diameter between 0.1mm to 0.3 mm, and its power is between 1 to 3 KWh. The power of the beam can be adjusted according to the size and thickness of the material. The laser cutting process is carried out with the following components.
The Laser Resonator: It is an airtight glass tube that has two mirrors facing each other. The tube is filled with gases like CO2, Helium, Nitrogen, hydrogen to emit the energy in the form of light.
The Cutting Head: There is a lens within the laser head that focuses the light of the beam onto the material or object for cutting or engraving. Different types of lenses are used to cut different materials.
Types of Lenses
There are mainly three types of lenses used in the industry.
CO2 Laser Cutters: CO2 lasers are used with a mixture of other gases like nitrogen and helium, and it has a wavelength of 10.6mm.
Fiber Laser Cutter: In this type, cutting is done with fiberglass. They are two or three times more energy-efficient as compared to gas. These lasers can work with a metallic and non-metallic material.
Crystal Layer Cutter: These lasers generate beam from Nd (neodymium) and Nd: YAG (neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet). Due to its small wavelength, they can cut thicker and stronger materials.
Methods of Laser Cutting
The methods of laser cutting are described below.
In this method of laser cutting, the workpiece is melted, and Nitrogen gas is used to expel the molten material from the kerf. Nitrogen gas does not show any exothermic reaction with melted material, and thus there is no contribution in energy output.
The laser beam is partially absorbed in the laser fusion cutting method. This method is mainly used with aluminum, stainless steel, and their alloys.
Oxidation Cutting (Flame cutting)
In this method, the material is heated by a laser beam to combustion temperature. Then, Oxygen gas is used to oxidize the material and to expel out the material from the kerf. Oxygen gas causes an exothermic reaction and contributes to energy increase to carry out the process.
This type of cutting method is used for carbon steel.
Vaporization cutting (remote cutting)
In this type of cutting, the surface temperature is increased to the boiling point to avoid melting material caused by heat conduction. There is no gas used to drive out the material because material expels out in the form of steam.