Laser cutting is a type of metal fabricating process where a high-intensity laser beam is used to cut metal such as stainless steel into custom shapes. It is a very accurate and quick process, with tolerances within 0.005”, and speeds up to 2,000 inches per minute or one meter per second.
There are two main types of lasers used in metal fabrication, based on the active laser medium: gas-state lasers and solid-state lasers. The most commonly used gas-state laser is the CO2 laser, where the laser beam is directed to its target through a glass tube contain a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and helium. Solid state lasers, such as crystal or fiber lasers, use crystal or optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements, such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium or dysprosium. Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) and neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate (Nd:YVO4) are the most common solid-state lasers.
Equipment: TRUMPF Laser Cutting Machinery
Max Dimensions: 3′ x 3′ x 0.65″
Cutting Accuracy: ±0.003″
CO2 lasers are best suited for almost all non-metallic materials such as glass, plastic, wood and mild steel; they are also used to cut materials that must not oxidize during the cutting process. These types of lasers result in smaller burrs and provide better edge quality in thicker materials. Cutting of straight lines is also faster.
Fiber and crystal lasers are more powerful than CO2 lasers, and are hence best suited for hard metals and ceramics. These lasers have lower maintenance, operating and set up costs, and are also more energy-efficient. They can cut thinner materials faster than CO2 lasers, and, since there is no fear about back reflections damaging the laser machine, they can cut reflective materials such as copper, brass and aluminum as well.
The growing popularity of laser cutting is testimony to the fact that it offers substantial benefits:
This manufacturing process has come a long way since the invention of the CO2 laser cutter in 1964. With advances in solid-state fiber and disk lasers, these systems are now increasingly taking over more traditional sheet metal processing systems. Like any other technology, this manufacturing process has it’s pros and cons.
AmTech’s supplier capabilities can handle a wide variety of materials with high quality and tight tolerances. Our highly skilled and experienced engineers can help you take your part from concept to production; while suggesting the most cost efficient manufacturing processes based on your quality requirements and target price.