How to choose a laser cutting machine
Table of Contents
First, let’s touch on tips for choosing a machine that can cut metals and other materials with a laser. This will help determine the main characteristics, which will narrow the search.
Dimensions of the cutting field Machines are divided not according to their own dimensions, but according to the size of the working field:
- Small-format have platform dimensions up to 50×30 cm, which allows them to be used on a table or workbench.
- Medium format includes the largest group of laser equipment, with cutting surfaces up to 150×250 cm.
- Large-format ones can have platforms of 200×300 cm or more, therefore they are used for the production of only the largest products, otherwise the investment will be unjustified.
The size of the zone where cutting and engraving is carried out is selected depending on the proportions of future products that the enterprise is going to produce. But at the same time, you need to take into account the space occupied by the machine and the requirements for power supply (single-phase, two-phase or 3-phase).
Laser formation method
Laser cutting machines are divided into two types. Fiber optics are more expensive, but they are great for cutting metal due to the increased power. Carbon dioxide (a laser is formed using a CO₂ tube and a lens system) is much cheaper, but is more used for cutting non-metals.
The next important parameter is the power, which determines whether the machine can only engrave or cut too. The characteristic range can be from 40 to 250 watts. If you need to cut cardboard according to a given pattern, then a machine with a power of 40 watts is sufficient. Cutting plywood with a cross section of 6 mm will require a return of 60 watts. To cut iron along a contour with a thickness of 2 mm, a power of at least 130 watts is required. Smaller values are enough for engraving, so you can save money and not buy a powerful machine.
Number of cutting heads
There can be one or two laser emitters. In the second case, pattern cutting is performed simultaneously from two edges, which increases productivity. But the cost of such machines also increases.
Chamber closed or open
The open area allows you to place parts on it with virtually no size restrictions. But the smoke from laser cutting, despite the operation of the hood, partially enters the room, which is unacceptable, especially when an acrylic part or other materials with substances harmful to the respiratory system are burned through. Closed chambers provide for the complete removal of harmful gases by forced ventilation, but this limits the working space. There are universal machines with folding walls, which, if necessary, can be lowered and kept closed at other times.
Ability to work with roll materials
Machines with such functionality imply a through supply of roll material. They have rollers on both sides of the table that move a long workpiece. This forms a kind of conveyor and allows you to engrave inscriptions on advertising banners.
Working with cylinders
If laser processing is required on cylindrical parts, then some machines are equipped with a clamping drum that receives torque from the motor through a rubber belt. Cams fix a cylindrical part (for example, a cup) and allow the emitter to apply an image to a semicircular surface.
Options and additional functions
The cost of laser machines may vary due to the presence of additional options or functions that are not available to others:
- Replaceable work surface. May be in the form of honeycombs, facilitating the cutting of small parts.
- Water cooling. It happens internal and external, with a remote chiller, which extends the time of trouble-free operation.
- Change of emitter. Some machines can be upgraded with a more powerful head if you need to cut thicker materials. This eliminates the need to buy a second machine.
- Vacuum fixation. Attracts the workpiece to the surface, securely fixing it without additional clamps.
- Automatic lifting/lowering of the table. Allows you to adjust the workspace by pressing a single button, rather than turning with a wrench.