What is your first thought of laser cutting technology? You get reminded of a ray of light cutting a metal sheet. Laser cutting technology makes use of a high intensity light beam to cut materials. This technology brought new innovations in the manufacturing industry. Of late, other businesses (architecture, sculptors) also use this technology. This blog gives a detailed account of laser cutting technology, its types and uses.
How does Laser Cutting Work?
The high energy beam light works on the basis of a motion control system that gets set by the CNC machine operator. The laser beam when focused on the material can either vaporise, burn, melt the product. The end product will, thus, get the best surface finish. This technology gets used to cut & manufacture components with intricate shapes and sizes.
A skilled laser engineer can make customised designs, shapes as well as pattern on the materials. The high intensity laser beam works on a non-contact process. It can cut materials such as
- Acrylic products
- & even thick paper.
You will gain more information about the materials in the types of laser cutting machines section.
Let us discuss on the three types of laser cutting technologies:
1. Flame Cutting (reactive)
The gas that gets used in the operation is oxygen. It gets blown at high pressure into the machine. The material (usually metals) when heated with oxygen reacts, then burns and finally oxidises. The on-going reaction expels higher amount of energy, which in turn, assists the laser beam.
2. Fusion Cutting
This method is also known as melt and blow method. Nitrogen gas (inert gas) gets used in the process. The specific material is brought to the required melting point with heat treatment. Then nitrogen gas gets blown into the material to cut or bring it to the desired shape.
3. Remote Cutting
The powerful laser beam gets focused on the material. Thin sheets get cut without the use of gases.
Laser Cutters: Types
The types of laser cutters vary as per the machines. The other factor is the material thickness. Lasers of high intensity get used to cut metals. Lasers with low power get used for wood, plastics, paper and card stock.
The three types of laser cutters are –
1.Gas Lasers (C02)
C02laser gets produced from C02, helium and nitrogen gases. This gas gets emitted with 10.6 mm wavelength. The advantages – this gas can cut thicker materials and can give a nice finish. Manufacturers prefer C02 lasers because of its cost-effectiveness and efficiency. Manufacturing workshops use C02 to cut sheet metals. Majority of these machines belong to the three axis system (X-Y, fixed optic system and hybrid system).
Materials – Wood, foams, paper based products, acrylic products, plastic and thick leather.
2. Crystal Laser Cutters
Two materials get used in crystal laser cutting process.
- nd:YAG (neodymium doped yttrium aluminium garnet)
- nd:YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate).
This beam has high intensity, small wavelengths and can cut through stronger materials. The only disadvantage, because of high intensity, the laser cutting machine parts get worn out soon.
Materials – Selected ceramic types, metals and plastics
3. Fiber Laser Cutters
You guessed it right. The cutting of materials gets completed with fiber glass. They belong to the solid state lasers family. Other lasers belonging to this family – Nd:Yag Lasers and disk lasers. The beam first gets produced from seed laser. It then gets amplified with high energy because of special fibers. They consume less power in comparison to their counterparts. The fiber laser can even cut reflective materials. This factor assumes prominence as in metal laser cutting (aluminium, brass, copper). The reason, there is always the challenge of back-reflection. Benefits – they can work on metal as well as non-metal materials.
The fiber laser cutting machines require low maintenance in comparison to the C02 laser and crystal laser machines.
Types of Laser Cutting Machines
The laser beam gets used to cut various materials as per the instructions of a G-code generated from a CNC laser cutting machine. They get preferred over other traditional methods of cutting because of their low cost and accurate cut material.
1. Rotary Laser Cutting Machines
Manufacturers use rotary laser cutting machines to cut steel pipes/tubes. The reason, this laser beam processes with precision and high speed. In the traditional method, saws and drills were used. Rotary laser machines can help cut D-type tube, ellipse tube, round tube and rectangular steel tubes.
2. Robotic Laser Cutting
This technology is fast gaining prominence as one among the recent 3D laser cutting technologies. It exerts great power control, flexibility and can give the accurate end product. The reason, the machine has customised design laser cutting head, sensor and a multi-axis mechanic arm.
3. Small Format Laser Cutting
This process gets used not only for cutting metals but also for non-metals. Manufacturers prefer this machine because –
- Z-axis can get adjusted to cut the material with precision
- Height of the laser emitting unit can get adjusted to maintain the proper length.
- The machines require no maintenance (as per industry experts)
- Result – high quality material
4. 5-Axis Laser Cutting
Manufacturers prefer 5-axis laser cutting machine because –
- This laser beam can cut two-dimensional and three-dimensional metal sheets.
- Finishes the job in less time
- Can cut and design shapes, sizes that will be impossible in conventional methods
Disadvantages – Every project can result in heavy cost for the manufacturer.
5. Large Format Laser Cutting
This machine laser gets used in industries that require high precision components. Example – aerospace, ship building, automotive and more. This type of machine is also cost-effective and can produce accurate products.
6. Direct Diode Lasers
As already mentioned, this technology belongs to the solid state lasers. In Direct diode, many laser beams get combined to produce a beam of low quality. These laser beams get used for cutting sheet metals.
Laser cutting technologies in India have experienced a tremendous growth over the last few decades. There exist reputed manufacturers (who make use of laser cutting technology) in India.
However, you should choose the best manufacturing company which has imbibed four core qualities in its principles
- Customer service
How To Hire the Best Laser Cutting Technology Company for your Industrial Project
You may have a business that is either a start-up or established industrial company. You may have a need for products (obtained from laser cutting technology). If you are searching for a new company with recent laser cutting technologies, then there is a way out. Register your profile and credentials on custom manufacturing marketplaces. You can browse company profiles that offer laser cutting services for various components. There will be a dedicated support team in these digital platforms. They will provide assistance right from sourcing the manufacturer till product delivery. Make use of RFQ templates, accounting software, bidding software to hire a proper laser cutting technology manufacturer for your project.
Why Does Laser Cutting Technology Get Preferred Over Other Methods?
There are four factors –
- Reduced Expenses – The cutting material does not get worn out during the process.
- End product with high precision levels, high quality and tight tolerances
- Manufacturers can get the end product in short time. It rarely matters if the end product has a complex shape and size.
- Less contamination of the end product or work piece.
Industries making use of laser cutting technology
- Automotive industry
- Machine Tool Industry
- Consumer Electronics
Unlike the olden days, the laser cutting technologies have improved in terms of accurate cutting efficiency, power and quality.