laser cut steelMost people think that laser machinery is only applicable to industrial manufacturing applications.  However, more of these machines are becoming popular with saavy DIY’ers and small businesses as well.  In my day  I went to wood working class whereas today laser cutters are what’s getting school kids excited…or at least we’re getting their attention.

Cutting materials with a CO2 laser is a technology that makes use of  CO2 gases that are now used to make precision cuts in all types of organic and metallic materials.  You can find them in schools, Universities,  hobbyists garages, small business, and larger industries.  Cutting  material is accomplished by a pc with a laser interface that can take image files and “print” to the laser which simply tells the laser engrave or cut. Under the cutting process the material is melted, or removed, vaporized or – whooo!  Blown away by compressed gases leaving an impressive,  high-quality finished edge. Most industrial laser cutting machines have the capability of cutting flat material as well as cylindrical shaped items through the use of a rotary attachement


Laser Services


Making sure that you put your laser cutting machine through regular routine laser service is paramount to prolonging the life of your cutting device. Laser servicing also ensures that your laser is calibrated at all times, so that you get a clean cut whenever you need it. Performing a laser service and taking preventative maintenance will keep the downtime of your machine at an absolute minimum, while also improving the efficiency and reliability of your machine. If you schedule your maintenance beforehand your business will have no more than a day or two down time, which depends on the model of the machine you own.


Laser Cutters


There are three main types of laser cutters and engravers sold for commercial use. These are, mainly, identical in look and style, but differ greatly in the application of use. The three types of laser cutting machines are C02, Nd and Nd/YAG. C02 laser cutting machines are used for boring, cutting, scribing and engraving, among other light duty tasks. The Nd (which stands for Neodymium) is used for boring with high energy pulses, and low repetition speeds. Nd-YAG (stands for Neodymium doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) is used in more powerful applications like where high pressure pulses are needed like deep boring, trimming and engraving.


Laser Cut Acrylic


When you think of cutting acrylic you might be inclined to believe that it is easy to cut, and you will not be wrong. Making a laser cut in acrylic basically requires the setting of speed and maximum laser output. However, if you want to generate a clean, tidy, quality cut, you need to select your cutting parameters very specifically. For instance, if you were to drop the speed of your cut you will end up with a better quality cut. However, if you were to slow it down too much your cut will end up being too wide and extend towards the bottom of the cut. There are a number of other parameters to consider and these include the focus of the laser and the focus length used. Also, you need to watch the gas flow, which should be set as low as possible to keep your cut clean.


Laser Cutting Wood


If you want to get a clean edge when laser cutting wood, high processing speeds are a must. If your processing speed is set too low you risk burning the edge of your cut object. The temperature of the edge is dropped naturally with the escape of sublime smoke that is released when the wood is being cut. However, you can lower the temperature of the cut edge more by introducing compressed air in your cutting processing, allowing the air to blow directly onto the edge as the laser cuts into the wood. Although, many artists who work with wood have successfully used the “burned edge” effect in their products as part of the design.


Laser Cut Stainless Steel


When it comes to CO2 – processing or cutting metal or stainless steel or even thin sheet metal is probably the most common application in the laser industry.  There are many different uses and reasons for laser cutting steel, but most  is done using a fiber laser, yag, or C02 laser machines.  The issue is the thicker the steel the more power is necessary which can make the price of a laser cutter rather expensive.  This is especially true with fiber laser technology. As with wood cutting, lasering through steel will produce high heat volumes, which is why many companies needing thicker steel laser cuts do so by introducing water into the cutting process. You can submerge the steel into water, however, if the cut is going to be performed on a large steel sheet the water application needs to be compressed and sprayed onto the surface as the cut takes place. This application successfully keeps the temperature of the sheet manageable thus producing a quality cutting edge.

References:

http://www.thomasnet.com/articles/custom-manufacturing-fabricating/laser-cutting-machines