Laser Cutting and How Does It Work?

A focused, high powered laser beam cuts into the material of plates, sheets, or slabs is the process of laser cutting.  It generally uses non-contact optics to control the shape of the laser output. Its mostly used in industrial applications where the quality of the cut is important. Different types of materials may be used in the fabrication process, including plastics, glass, gemstones, paper, mostly in a combination with metals.

There are different types of cutting with a laser. Oxidation, Fusion, and scribing are different processes that have their own benefits and drawbacks as well depending on the circumstances of what the job involves with the laser.

How Does Laser Cutting Work?

Laser cutting is the process in which a high-powered laser beam is used to cut or even engrave into different types of products. The laser is beamed through high-fidelity optics. Depending on the material types of the projects, cutting systems vary.

A laser beam is created when pulses of electromagnetic radiation are organized laterally inside a closed container bouncing off mirrors. The energy of a medium produces these pulses through electrical lamps or discharges. The light is amplified as it passes back and forth between two mirrors until the threshold of energy needs to exit the laser in a single, well-focused pulse from one end of the tube. Resulting in a guided path where the lens requires it.

3 Popular Types of Laser Cutting

There are a variety of laser generator types.

  • Fiber Lasers
  • CO2 Laser
  • Neodymium Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet Laser

CO2 Laser

CO2 lasers have become popular and for reason. They are affordable and allow one to cut non-metallic materials, thin sheets of aluminum or non-ferrous metals. In order to get the laser inside of a tube, it passes electricity through a mixture of Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Helium gas.

The mirrors are placed at both ends of the tube that allow one to see all the sides of whatever is being cut by letting any light escape behind it while concentrating the beam in a specific direction. The generated lights wavelength is not visible to us, so don’t worry too much about your safety.

A laser beam is then passed through a handful of mirrors similar to the sun going through a magnify glass to burn a piece of paper. The laser will then pass through the material. The system regulates the laser by focusing it on the material before generating out the heat intensity and length according to what is needed.

Back then before the material would be cut, the G-code, which is a set of digital instructions given by computers. Would have to be programmed by engineers. Today, the software can now convert 3D models into the G-code for us.

How to Make the Most of Laser Cutting

Determining the size of the machine is up to what kind of jobs you will be working on. They all have their different sizes with different price points. This is all on your preference.

Focal Spot

A specialized mirror or a lens is used to help the beam focus to a small spot of high intensity. The location or spot where the beam’s diameter is smallest is called the focal spot. Getting your laser cutter’s focal spot just right depends on sever factors, thickness, beam shape, material properties, mode, etc.

Power

If you are going to be cutting a lot, then you will want to look for a machine with a more powerful laser. But on the other hand, if your jobs do not require much cutting, then you can get away with using a machine with a less powerful laser. The higher the intensity levels will always burn faster and cost more per cut. Flexibility is key because it will determine on how much work there will be to do.

Beam Intensity

The distribution of a laser beam determines the size of the focal point it creates. Not to mention the extension and the quality of the cut across the material. A beam typically is regarded as most effective when its output is Gaussian.

Wavelength

The laser beams wavelength determines how the material absorbs the light, so if the wavelength is correct, there will be sufficient heating to melt or cut through an object.

The Benefits of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting machines are great to have for those types of jobs. Especially when it comes to certain aspects. They come with a customized machine that cuts the material efficiently. Allowing the manufacturer to spend less time in production and focus more on developing other aspects of their business for growing in the future.

Have any questions? Want to learn more? Contact our Team.