Many industries use lasers for many different purposes. Today, we’re focusing on using a laser cutting machine on heavy metals. On metals such as aluminum plates, stainless steel, and steel, the laser cutting process is highly accurate. Laser cutting machines yield excellent cut quality, have a very small kerf width, and smaller heat-affected zones, making it possible to cut very intricate shapes and small holes. What is “laser cutting?” Laser cutting is used for various metal and non-metal materials, including plastic, wood, gemstone, glass, and paper. The word “LASER” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. What most don’t know – or understand – is how light can cut through metal. We’ll answer a few of our most asked questions today! Glenn Metalcraft Inc. (GMI) continually improves, adds, and upgrades its equipment, including our laser cutting machine, to expand our offerings to customers. Contact us for information about our laser cutting for heavy metals.
How Does Laser Cutting Metal Work?Laser cutting machines are part of a non-contact, thermal-based fabrication process suitable for metal and non-metal materials. Laser cutting employs an extremely-focused, high-powered laser beam to cut the material into intricate shapes or designs. This process is suitable for an extensive range of materials, including metals, plastics, woods, gemstones, glass, and paper. It produces intricate, precise, and complex pieces, mostly without custom-designed finishing or tooling. Laser cutting machines can produce parts with accuracy, precision, and high-quality edge finishes. They do so (generally) with less material contamination, physical damage, and waste than with other conventional cutting processes, such as mechanical cutting. While laser cutting machines demonstrate advantages over conventional cutting processes, some industrial or manufacturing applications can be somewhat problematic, such as cutting reflective material or any pieces requiring custom finishing or machining work. On a CNC laser cutting machine, the laser cutting head is moved over the metal plate or piece in the desired part’s shape, thus cutting the design out of the metal. In a laser cutting machine, a capacitive height control system maintains a very accurate distance between the end of the laser’s nozzle and the metal piece. This exact distance is important when figuring out how a laser cutting machine works. It determines where the focal point exists, relative to the metal’s surface. A laser cut’s quality can be affected by raising or lowering the focal point from just above the metal’s surface, at the surface, or just below the surface. With parameters controlled properly, laser cutting is a stable, reliable, and very accurate cutting process.
What Materials Can Be Cut With A Laser Cutting Machine?A laser cutting machine is wonderful at cutting many different materials. This list of choice materials includes:
- Gemstones, such as diamonds
- Titanium, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, and a range of others
- Reflective metals, such as silver, copper, and aluminum
- Plastic, silicon, and other non-metallic materials
Can A Laser Really Cut Through Metal?Short answer: Absolutely! Industrial laser cutting machines can cut most metals. Laser cutters and plasma cutters are often used for this purpose. Lasers capable of cutting through the thickest, even steel, plates are high-powered CO2 lasers. Metals such as stainless steel and aluminum can be cut with a laser when using compressed gas technology.
What Are The Benefits Of Laser Cutting?Compared to other types of traditional industrial cutting methods, laser cutting offers several advantages. These advantages include:
Greater precision and accuracyLaser cutting machines cut a wide range of patterns and designs with increased precision compared to traditional metal cutting methods. Since laser cutting machines can be CNC-controlled, they can repeatedly produce complex and intricate parts to high tolerances. Thanks to this precision, slits with a width as small as 0.1mm can be achieved.
Higher quality cuts and edgesLaser cutting produces extremely high-quality cuts and edges on its pieces. These generally do not require further cleaning, treating, or finishing, decreasing the need for additional finishing processes.
Narrower kerf widths and less material distortionThe focused laser beam allows for narrower kerf widths, and the localized heating allows for minimal thermal input to the metal piece. The smaller kerf widths minimize the amount of wasted material removed. The low thermal input minimizes the heat-affected zones (HAZs). This, in turn, decreases the extent of thermal distortion. The non-contact nature of laser cutting machines also decreases the risk of mechanical (or thermal) distortion, especially for thin or very flexible or thin materials, and reduces the risk of material contamination.
Less material contamination and wasteOwing to the smaller heat-affected zones, tighter tolerances, narrower kerf widths, and lesser degrees of material distortion, the operator can arrange the laser-cut pieces closely on the metal. This closeness reduces the amount of material wastage, leading to lower material costs over time.
Greater operator safety and quieter operatingOther advantages of laser cutting machines include a massively decreased risk of operator injury and much quieter operations. The entire laser cutting process uses little to no mechanical components and occurs within its enclosure, resulting in less operator injury risk. The operator also has total control with the beam intensity, heat output, and duration when undertaking a laser cutting process, making this a highly reliable and safe operation. As there is less noise produced by laser cutting machines, noise pollution lessens, and the overall workplace environment is also improved.
What Industries Come To GMI For Laser Cutting Heavy Metals?Many industries take advantage of our laser cutting services for their metal projects. These industries include:
- Automotive (including e-mobility),
- Semiconductor, and