Metal Laser Cutting is a modern and precise method for fabricating metal sheets to produce various industrial materials for different projects. The laser technology utilizes a light beam with high energy to cut and slice materials. The method is standard for industrial manufacturing applications along with small businesses and hobbyists’ projects. The CNC device, which stands for computer numerical control device, produces the material and the beam to provide accurate workflow. The generated laser for cutting metal sheets utilizes a motion control system to follow G-code or a CNC of the demanding pattern to be fabricated onto the material. The machine focuses the laser beam directed at the material to either melt, vaporize, burn or blown away by a jet gas device. The metal laser cutting method leaves an edge with a high-quality surface finish on the underproduction material.

History of Metal Laser Cutting

The first usage of laser cutting goes back to 1965, which was mainly for drilling holes into diamond dies. The Western Electric Engineering Research Center was the first in manufacturing these machines. About two years after the primary laser cutting machine production, the British used a laser-assisted oxygen jet to improve the device and made it practical for metal laser cutting. In the early 1970s, the technology received progression to cut other hard materials such as titanium for professional applications, including aerospace. At the same time, the CO2 laser cutting system was introduced to fabricate non-metal substances such as textiles. However, this system was not able to overcome the thermal conductivity of metal materials. Nowadays, manufacturers utilize laser cutting for creating other materials such as aluminum composite panels and different sidings.

Metal Laser Cutting Process

The laser cutting process involves stimulating a lasing material with optics and electrical discharging devices within a close-range container. As the laser beam generating begins, a partial mirror internally reflects the beam until it produces significant energy to escape as a stream of intelligible light. Mirrors and optics primary roles are to direct the beam to a lens to focus the light at the working point. The thinnest part of the focusing laser is often less than 0.32 millimeters in diameter. Depending on the workpiece material thickness, it is possible to produce kerf widths as small as 0.10 millimeters. Manufacturers do pierce to have the allowance of starting their cutting process from somewhere other than the edges. The piercing generally involves a high-power pulsing laser beam which can make a hole onto the material within 5-15 seconds for different metal sheets.

Advantages of Laser Cutting System

Like any other industrial fabricating methods, metal laser cutting has its unique benefits, making it popular over time. These advantages of this practical system over mechanical cutting include workpiece contamination reduction and easier work holding. The metal that is underproduction with this method has no cutting edge of becoming contaminated. The laser beam does not wear during its process and provides high-level precision for the manufacturer. Additionally, there is a low chance of warping the product that is being cut due to the small heat-affected area of laser systems. It can fabricate rigid materials that are hard or even impossible to accept the cutting process with traditional methods.

Methods for Metal Laser Cutting

There are various methods available for metal laser cutting system that manufacturers utilize to produce their industrial products. Each of these methods has its unique approach and characteristics. However, the good news is that all of the systems are practical for numerous purposes.

Vaporization Cutting

In the vaporizing system, the goal is to heat the surface with the laser beam until it reaches its flashpoint point and, as a result, generates a keyhole. The keyhole can increase the absorption quickly by deepening the hole. When the hole deepens and the material boils, by blowing ejecta out by eroding the vapor generation, the hole gets enlarged.

Melt and Blow

Melt and blow method, also known as the fusion cutting system, utilizes high-pressure gas to blow molten material off the cutting zone. This system often decreases the power requirements and can save a considerable amount of energy. The first stage of this method is to heat the material until it reaches its melting point. A gas jet device involves blowing the molten material out of the kerf while avoiding the rise of temperature needs. Melt and blow system is one of the practical ways to cut metals in industry.

Thermal Stress Cracking

This method is particularly suitable for metals that have brittle characteristics. Metals with these properties are sensitive to thermal fracture. In thermal stress cracking system, the operator focuses the beam on the surface of the material to cause thermal expansion and localized heating. As a result, the materials start cracking by the laser movement, and it follows the m/s order.

Reactive Cutting

The last most common method in metal laser cutting systems is reactive cutting, also known as “flame cutting” or “burning stabilized laser gas system”. The reactive approach is similar to oxygen torch cutting. Instead of oxygen, the energy and ignition source are the laser beams. This method is often used for fabricating carbon steel metal in thickness of over one millimeter. Additionally, the reactive process is practical for cutting very thick steel panels with a relatively small amount of power.