Laser Cutting Steel and Aluminum – Elena

Laser Cutting Capabilities

Laser cutting involves removing material to shape a workpiece in a process that generally reduces the amount of post-fabrication finishing work. For example, when cutting thermally treated material, laser heat can cause hardening at the outer edges of the cut. Hardening can be useful for many applications because it increases product durability. But it also limits the amount of machining, making post-cut threading or deburring difficult.

Most laser cutting systems are automat under CNC parameters. These computer controls enable high levels of precision and increased cutting speed. Some CNC programs offer “flying optics” capabilities that allow a laser to shape material while the cutting head is in motion. The moveable laser can perform fast cutting operations while maintaining accuracy, and is highly effective on thin sheet metal. CNC programming can also regulate power output. Enabling the laser to shift settings depending on the contours and thickness of the material. In addition, some CNC lasers are equipped with sensory units that can adjust the distance between the cutting head and the workpiece to reduce the potential for warping.

Laser Cutting Steel

Thick steel materials, such as plates or reinforced sheets, typically cut with CO2 lasers. Because they have higher power capacity than other laser models. In general, the thicker the steel sheet, the more power required to cut it. And the optimum cutting rate is largely determined by the ratio of thickness to the strength of the laser’s beam. Unlike many mechanical cutting processes, laser cutting can produce hole sizes significantly smaller than the thickness of the steel, sometimes as low as a fifth of the workpiece’s size.

Although Nd:YAG lasers are usually incapable of cutting steel at any thickness approaching 20 millimeters. An optical fiber enhancement with an oxygen assist gas mechanism can enable these crystal-based systems to cut thicker steel workpieces. This kind of modification uses the laser to preheat the steel while the oxygen catalyzes an exothermic reaction to assist in the cutting.