The Top 5 Advantages of a High-Power Fiber Laser Cutting Machine – Elena

High Power Fiber and Assist Gases

(gases)Years ago it was found that shielding the laser beam in oxygen increases the cutting temperature. Plus, a high-velocity jet would blow out the melted dross rather than leaving it hanging on the bottom of the sheet or plate.

This meant that by using oxygen for assistance you could cut faster. However, oxygen also has a habit of causing oxidation of the cut edge. The solution to that is to replace oxygen with nitrogen. It lowers the cutting speed but leaves a clean edge that needs little-to-no clean-up before sending the sheet for powder coating or welding.

Then people started experimenting with blends of oxygen and nitrogen. Pretty quickly someone realized that air is 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen and so the idea of air-assisted laser cutting was born.

Air assistance is particularly useful when you have a high-power laser that doesn’t need a lot of extra heat from oxygen. And like using nitrogen, it yields a very clean edge that’s ready for coating or welding. This is why our new laser is equipped with high-pressure air assist, (and can also run oxygen or nitrogen as needed.)

So much for the science and the machine specifications. Let’s turn to the advantages high power fiber lasers offer fabricators like us.

Top 5 Advantages of a High Power Laser Cutting Machine

When we were looking for ways to enhance our laser cutting capabilities we made a list of the advantages we could see from going to a fiber machine. It turned out to be a long list. To avoid boring you with detail, here, in reverse order, are the top 5 advantages we identified.

5. Better material utilization and tighter nesting, thanks to narrower kerf and less distortion due to workpiece expansion.

4. Cut thicker sheet and plate material. With this laser, we can cut mild steel up to 0.312” thick and stainless and aluminum up to 1” thick.

3. Faster piercing and cutting. Higher power and a smaller spot size mean a fiber laser “punches” through in less time. On a job where there are a lot of holes to cut that can lead to big time savings. Plus, faster melting allows higher traverse speeds. That’s even more time saved.

2. Cut reflective materials like aluminum and copper. Cutting these with a CO2 laser meant going very slowly because they reflected most of the laser energy. The shorter wavelength of fiber means we can cut these at a speed that’s high enough to be useful.

1. Better cut edge quality. This is primarily a result of higher power and air assist, but laser beam geometry and workpiece thermal conductivity contribute too. The thinner beam keeps the energy more tightly focused, and that means a sharper edge. In addition, by putting less heat into the metal there’s less distortion.

With Great (Metal Cutting) Power Comes …

Many fabrication projects start with pieces of sheet or plate being cut to size and shape. From there they usually go to welding and very often, powder coating. Laser cutting is an efficient way for us to produce those blanks. Our fiber laser is a step up from the lasers already in our shop and will let us cut even more efficiently. That’s because of increased speed and thickness capabilities and also as a result of the better edge quality it will yield.

As you can probably tell, we’re excited about having more power in our laser cutting department. Trust us, though, we are going to use that power responsibly. If you’d like to find out how, talk to us about your next fabrication project. We’re always happy to help.

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