Per Bystronic, “To understand laser cutting it starts with the laser beam which is created by the laser source (resonator), conducted by a transport fiber or mirrors in the machine cutting head where a lens focuses it at very high power on a very small diameter. This focused laser beam meets the sheet metal and then melts it, which cuts the material.”
LASER CUTTING BASICS
Laser cutting is one of the most commonly used processes throughout various industries. This is because laser cutters allow for clean precision cuts in the most popular metals used for manufacturing such as carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and various other materials.
While laser cutting is well suited for high production runs, sometimes, fabrication shops will use this process to cut various prototype parts and then to test specific features on those parts in order to address any obvious or not so obvious defects within the initial design. Since lasers provide such precision in the cuts this can be performed at a high rate of repetition. Also, any adjustments deemed necessary or that were made to the prototype during the process will then be applied on the production run.
THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF LASER CUTTING SYSTEMS
While there are a multitude of types of cutting techniques available, lasers are typically classified as Fiber laser or CO₂ lasers.
What are Fiber Lasers
Fiber lasers are proven to be one of the common methods for laser cutting, fiber lasers are also the most efficient laser cutting options available. With fiber laser cutting techniques, the laser beam is produced by an active fiber and then it is transmitted across a transport fiber to the cutting head found within the machine. Even though the footprint is smaller than that of a CO₂ laser cutter, fiber lasers can generate several times the power output all from the same amount of electrical current.
A fiber cutting system is primarily suited for processing thin to thick sheet metal from steel, stainless steel, aluminum, as well as non-ferrous metals such as copper and brass. Fiber lasers are also well suited to cut highly reflective materials, this is due to the lack of optics that are in the cutting head.
What are CO₂ Lasers
With the other popular method, CO₂ lasers, a gas mixture is used to create a high-intensity laser beam. During the start of this laser cutting process, the CO₂ system creates a laser beam of light and then focuses it on the outlet by using mirrors within the machine. These mirrors are used to form a resonator which increases light energy that’s produced in the laser beam. The machine cutting head in these systems have a nozzle that’s found within it. This nozzle directs and controls the laser beam onto the working surface. This system’s focused laser beam then melts the metal which in return is what causes the cuts.
Even though this technology is older than the Fiber, CO2 lasers still play a critical role in fabrication shops tackling heavier materials and providing a smoother cut.
WALKUP COMPANY KNOWS LASER CUTTING
Walkup Company has been providing precision laser cutting services in Houston and Gulf Coast area since 1994. We are capable of laser cutting Carbon, Stainless, or Aluminum up to 3/4″ in thickness using Fiber and CO₂ technology. We are one of the most qualified laser cutting companies in the Houston area and have 3 quality and reliable lasers to handle your projects. Contact our team today to discuss your next custom laser cutting project or if you are interested in learning more about the benefits of laser cutting when compared to waterjet cutting or plasma cutting. Feel free to follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated with the latest trends.