Laser Cutting Steel and Aluminum-Elena

Although metal cutting operations traditionally employ mechanical or manual processes. Laser cutting can be aviable, effective, and cost-efficient option for metal fabrication. Laser equipment is distinct from other cutting machines in both design and application. For example, laser cutters do not make direct contact with material, rely on high-energy power sources, have tighter cutting tolerances. And they are generally automated to maximize precision.

A laser device fires a concentrated stream of photons onto a precise area of the workpiece in order to trim excess material and shape the workpiece into a specific design. These machines are highly effective in cutting various grades of steel, such as stainless and carbon steel. However, lasers are less efficient on light-reflective or heat-conductive metals, like aluminum or copper. And require specific modifications to shape these materials. The material being cut often dictates the type of laser used in fabrication. Making it important to match equipment specifications with forming stock.

Types of Lasers

Laser technology has several unique attributes that affect the quality of its cuts. We call the degree to which light curves around surfaces as diffraction. And most lasers have low diffraction rates to enable higher levels of light intensity over longer distances. In addition, features such as monochromaticity determine the laser beam’s wavelength frequency, while coherence measures the continuous state of the electromagnetic beam. These factors vary according to the type of laser used. The most common types of industrial laser cutting systems include:

  • Nd:YAG: The neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser uses a solid crystal substance to focus light onto its target. It can emit continuous or rhythmic infrared beams, and auxiliary equipment (such as light pump lamps or diodes) can enhance this beam. The Nd:YAG’s relatively divergent beam and high positional stability make it very efficient in low-powered operations. Such as cutting sheet metal or trimming thin gauge steel.
  • CO2: Acarbon dioxide laser is a more powerful alternative to the Nd:YAG model and uses a gas medium instead of a crystal for focusing light. Its output-to-pumping ratio allows it to fire a high-powered continuous beam capable of efficiently cutting thick materials. As its name suggests, the laser’s gas discharge consists of a large portion of carbon dioxide mixed with smaller amounts of nitrogen, helium, and hydrogen. Due to its cutting strength, the CO2 laser is capable of shaping bulky steel plates up to 25 millimeters thick. As well as cutting or engraving thinner materials at lower power.