Nobody could have predicted that laser-cutting technology would revolutionise the manufacturing industry when it was created in 1963. This technology was first used to cut titanium for aerospace purposes in the early 1970s.
The 1990s were the apex of laser cutting development. More powerful lasers that could cut vast quantities of metal were on the market. Laser cutting technology evolved with time, and we currently have fiber laser cutting and C02 cutting technology.
Metals have distinct characteristics that impact how they can be cut. This article will discuss metal laser cutters and their common types.
What is a Metal Laser Cutter?
Metal laser-cutting machines are the most recent advancement in laser-cutting technology. Look around your house, and you’ll probably find laser-cut or engraved goods. The glass that you use to drink water might be laser engraved.
Metal laser cutters lower consumption and maintenance while increasing speed and quality.
A metal laser cutter is an automatic CNC laser-cutting machine. It cuts sheet metal plates, metal profiles, tubes, and pipes.
Moreover, It delivers the best metal-cutting solution for metal fabricators. Metal laser cutters provide clean, rapid, and precise cuts. The technology is highly productive, with equipment capable of cutting enormous sections of sheet metal or even tubes.
How Does Metal Laser Cutting Machine Work?
Laser cutting uses a focussed optical light beam to melt, burn, or vaporise materials. When combined with CNC( Computer Numerical Control ), laser cutting equipment provides exact and intricate cuts, opening up practically limitless options for material customisation.
A laser generates energy by stimulating atoms of the matter. A second laser or electrical current is used in this process which acts as an energy pump. Atoms start to radiate light after absorbing energy which is then focused by forming an optical cavity by inserting a mirror at each end of the medium.
Other than that, a laser beam is focused onto sheet metal or similar hard material to cut it. The beam cuts the metal making it easy for the technician to carry out the process.
Common Types Of Metal Laser Cutting Machines
Metal laser cutting machines are classified into two types.
- Fiber laser cutting machine
- CO2 laser cutting machine
1. The Fiber Laser cutter
In terms of power, fiber lasers outperform CO2 lasers. When it comes to cutting metal, nothing beats the precision and speed of a fibre laser cutter. It is of superior quality, swiftness, accuracy, and efficacy.
Moreover, It is ideal for all forms of metal manufacturing. It has different laser powers (1000W to 40000W) to cut metal tubes and sheet metals. The metal sheets and tubes it can cut are of various thicknesses made of
- Electrical steel
- Tool steel
- Galvanised steel
- Stainless steel
- Mild steel
- Aluminium zinc plate
- Aluminium alloy
- Carbon steel
- Titanium alloy
- Copper, iron, and other metals
Fiber lasers can also inflict burns and blindness; even indirect exposure to the laser can cause harm.
It has the potential of cutting up to 10mm thick carbon steel if oxygen is supplied. When oxygen is used during the cutting process, a very thin oxide film forms on the surface of the material being cut.
When working with these lasers, you must wear safety glasses rated for the laser’s frequency. Wear gloves to avoid leaving oils or other residues on your hands adjusting machine components.
It is critical to have a well-ventilated environment since lasers can create irritating or even toxic gases. Always have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher that can handle trash, liquid, and electrical fires.
2. CO2 Metal Laser Cutter
CO2 solid lasers can cut metals like steel and stainless steel. It can struggle with aluminium and brass due to their reflecting properties. These machines must have a minimum power rating of 150 W and employ oxygen aid to cut metal. CO2 lasers can cut many materials, including
- And ceramics
CO2 lasers are the most extensively utilised laser technology for laser material processing.
Without sufficient safety procedures, the CO2 laser can cause lacerations, burns, and instant blindness. Because of the oxygen assist, there is a risk of combustion or explosion if the gas tank is not handled appropriately. Always use and store flammable gases responsibly.
C02 metal laser cutter can cut Mild steel with a thickness of up to 4.8mm. Stainless steel is up to 3mm thick (with oxygen aid), stainless steel is up to 2mm thick (with nitrogen assist), and aluminium is up to 1.5mm wide.
Fibre Laser Cutter V/s C02 Laser Cutter
- With increased power Fiber laser cutter can cut up to 5 times quicker than a standard CO2 laser while using half the power.
- Fiber laser cutters do not require any warm-up process, but CO2 lasers typically require roughly 10 minutes for every start-up.
- The Fiber laser cutter does not require beam path cleanings, such as mirror or lens cleaning. While C02 requires much upkeep, for a CO2 laser, this can add additional 4 or 5 hours each week.
- Fiber lasers have a tightly closed Fiber optic beam path from the power source to the cutting tip. As opposed to CO2 lasers, the beam is not contaminated by beam path contaminates.
- Fiber optic beam routes keep nozzle beam centring stable.
The Fibre laser cutting machine outperforms C02 in terms of efficiency and precision. However, it depends on whether the task requires C02 or a fibre-cutting device.
The table below summarises how the various laser technologies compare on the most relevant parameters.
|Metal||C02 Laser||Fibre Laser|
|Cutting Organic Materials||✓|
|Cutting Thin Materials||✓||✓|