How Laser Cutting Works? – Elena

A laser cutter’s beam usually has a diameter between 0.1 and 0.3 mm and a power of between 1 to 3 kW. According to the cut material and thickness, we can adjuste the suitable power. To cut reflective materials like aluminum, for instance, you may need laser powers of up to 6 kW.

Laser cutting is not ideal for metals like aluminum and copper alloys. Because they have excellent heat-conductive and light-reflective properties, meaning they need powerful lasers.

Below are some core components of a laser cutter:

  • The Laser Resonator: 

    The laser beam emanates from a laser resonator, an airtight glass tube with two mirrors that face each other. We can fill the tube with CO2 and other gases such as hydrogen, nitrogen and helium. Diodes or an electric discharge that emits energy in the form of light can activetes the mix of these gases.

  • The Cutting Head: 

    The light bounces in various directions with the assistance of several mirrors to ensure it reaches the laser cutting head. After the beam reaches the cutting head, it will pass through the curved lens. This mirror will magnify the beam and focus on a single spot. It is within this cutting head that the laser is turned into a thin, concentrated beam, which can cut or raster. The focused laser beam passes through a nozzle before hitting the plate. This process with compressed gas like nitrogen or oxygen also flowing through this nozzle. If you are cutting aluminum or stainless steel. For example, the laser beam will melt the material before the highly-pressurized nitrogen blows the molten metal out of the kerf. Normally, the cutting head is attached to a mechanical system that is driven by a chain or belt. Therefore allows it to make precise movements within a limited area. The focal point of the lens needs to be on the surface of the material being cut for the laser to make an actual cut.

  • Nozzle Distance: 

    Always maintain an accurate distance between the plate and the nozzle. This space is crucial since it determines the focal point. Generally, changing the focus affects the quality of the cut. Several other variables can affect the cut quality, and they include the beam intensity and speed.

Three Major Varieties of Laser Cutting

  • Flame/Reactive Rutting:

    The auxiliary gas is oxygen. We blow oxygen into the slit under high pressure (up to six bar). The heated material (metal, in this case) reacts with the oxygen and begins to burn and to oxidize. This reaction expels more energy and assists the laser beam.

  • Fusion Cutting/Melt and Blow:

    An inert gas (typically nitrogen) blows molten material out of the kerf, significantly reducing the power that is required. First heat the material until it reaches the melting point, then the gas blows it away.

  • Remote Cutting:

    The high-intensity laser beam partially vaporizes (ablates) the material, so we can cut the thin sheet without auxiliary gas.

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