Laser cutting is an incredibly versatile technology that produces intricate and precise pieces of work from various materials. It’s an extremely convenient tool with many applications, as lasers can easily be used on many kinds of materials. This comprehensive guide will discuss the different types of laser cutting, which materials you should avoid, and which materials are suitable for laser cutting and engraving.
We will also provide some application ideas for each. So, if you’re looking for a deeper dive into materials suitable for laser cutting, you’ve come to the right place.
An Overview of Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is an advanced technology for precision cutting or engraving materials. It uses a laser beam to cut or etch the desired shape into a material. Laser cutters use a concentrated beam of light created by a high-powered laser and focus on the material with extreme precision. Some common applications for laser cutting include industrial fabrication projects such as robotics components, furniture manufacturing, molds and dies fabrication, vehicle components, and tooling production.
There are four main types of laser cutting; fusion, vaporization, fracture-controlled, and laser flame. Fusion cutting involves melting the material so a fine beam can cut it, while vaporization cuts by quickly evaporating sections of the material before the beam melts the rest away. Fracture-controlled cutting works by creating high-stress points in the material and breaking it with minimal debris or heat produced. Lastly, laser flame works similarly to oxyfuel but produces no chemicals during the process.
The advantages of laser cutting are numerous. It is a highly accurate and cost-effective way of producing shapes from many materials. It is faster than traditional cutting methods and has clean edges with little to no waste. Laser cutting creates the smallest heat-affected zone (HAZ) of all the thermal cutting methods because of its fine beam.
Laser cutting is an efficient and environmentally friendly process for cutting metal. The laser beam used in laser cutting is extremely precise, resulting in minimal material waste as opposed to other processes. This also reduces the amount of hazardous materials released into the environment, making laser cutting a much greener choice.
Materials Suitable for Laser Cutting or Engraving by Laser
This technology enables materials such as metal, stone, glass, and even materials that are difficult to cut or engrave, like titanium, to be accurately cut with a high degree of efficiency.
In addition, laser cutting is suitable for synthetic materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene, and some other non-metallic materials such as paper, cardstock and cork.
Some materials may need pre-treatment prior to cutting due to their reflective properties; for example, magnesium or aluminum should be avoided because they reflect laser beams rather than absorb them. Such materials require additional material coatings in order to ensure an effective cutting process. Alternatively, fiber laser cutting, using fiber optic cable to transmit the laser beam to the reflective surface, is another way around this issue.
When looking for materials suitable for laser cutting or engraving with a laser cutter, it is essential to know the material specifications of your finished piece. Metallic materials such as stainless steel and aluminum are excellent for laser cutting, as they have a high melting point and can withstand the high temperatures of the laser beam. Other metals like brass and copper can also be used for laser cutting but are more likely to warp or deform.
Laser cutting is an innovative precision technology used in a wide variety of industries and applications. This precision process can create intricate shapes with accuracy down to 0.002 inches, making it ideal for use in aerospace, tooling, manufacturing, medical device, and electronics production. This process can provide precision not possible with traditional methods like sawing or punching as well as reducing material waste and cost compared to other processes.
Etching is another application for laser cutting. Etching can create intricate designs on a wide range of materials, from stainless steel to glass and plastic. Laser cutters allow you to precisely etch designs onto various materials for decorative and practical purposes.
You can use laser cutters for welding if the beam power is strong enough to melt the materials during the cut. This process allows for flexible production and greater versatility in completing a job. An even better option is combining a laser cutter with a welding head, which can further maximize precision to perform welding tasks successfully. This combination also enables industry professionals to complete welding objectives quickly, cost-effectively, and efficiently.
Laser marking is another application of laser cutters. It allows you to permanently mark text or symbols onto many materials, such as metals and plastics. Laser marking is often used in industrial settings to tag products or components with branding or logos.
Finally, drilling is possible with certain types of laser cutters. They can cut tiny holes into metal and other materials quickly and accurately, making them ideal for tasks where precision is essential such as in the manufacturing of electronic components.
How Can We Assist?
We can help you with all your metallic laser cutting needs at Glenn Metalcraft. We offer heavy metal spinning, machining, cutting, and welding services and have access to additional fabrication and finishing resources through the Elemet Group. Whether you need laser cutters for stainless steel, or other materials suitable for laser cutting, we can assist you with all your laser-cutting projects.
Our nationwide customers trust us for our quality craftsmanship and reliable delivery services. Contact us today, and let us help you with your laser-cutting needs!