What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is mainly a thermal process in which a focused laser beam is used to melt material in a localised area. A co-axial gas jet is used to eject the molten material and create a kerf. A continuous cut is produced by moving the laser beam or workpiece under CNC control.
It is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications, but is also starting to be used by schools, small businesses and hobbyists. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser, by computer at the material to be cut.

 

The difference with CNC cutting is how the cutting occurs. Instead of a cutting tool, a laser relies on heat to create the desired shape of the product. While traditional CNC cutting carves out the design, laser cutting relies on a high-energy light beam that burns through the metal material.

 

Here are the benefits of laser cutting:
1) Laser cutting is a manufacturing process which can eliminate the need for machining on many engineering jobs, enabling you to save money on manufacturing costs.
2) Laser cutting presents certain advantages over plasma cutting as this process is more precise and uses less energy when cutting steel and aluminium sheets. 
3) The precision levels and edge quality achieved with laser cutting machines are better than traditional cutting methods, as the laser beam will not wear during the laser cutting process. Laser cutting technology also enables us to cut complex shapes without the need for tooling and at a similar or faster speed than other cutting methods.
4) The fact that laser cutting technology offers reduced contamination of the workpiece presents certain advantages over traditional mechanical cutting techniques.
5) Laser cutting also allows us to cut small diameter holes with complex detail and good edge quality in either sheet, plate, tube or box section.

 

Cut width can be extremely small with laser cutting, less than 0.001 inch, and dimensional accuracy is extremely precise, at about ± 0.0005 inch. This accuracy is very useful for producing the jagged teeth used in some cutting tools.

 

Here are the disadvantages of laser cutting:
1) Laser cutting demands high power consumption as compared to other techniques.
2) The laser beam is very delicate to handle.
3) The laser beam is harmful if it comes in contact with human workers.
4) Laser cutting is still not capable of cutting thick metals.

 

It is important to know that laser cutting machines tend to run at a higher cost than an engraving machine, and this is due to power consumption and consumables. Laser cutting and engraving machines require the use of a PC to communicate and carry out tasks effectively.

 

Never cut these materials by laser cutting:
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate
ABS
HDPE/milk bottle plastic

 

Laser cutting is a precise thermal cutting process, utilizing a focused beam of light. Plasma cutting, on the other hand, uses a mixture of gases to form a cut.

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