Overview of laser cutting machines for metal

Table of Contents

The powerful energy focused in the laser beam can be used in material processing. For which, in fact, machines were created that ensure the use of laser systems for the production of parts of exact dimensions that do not require further processing.

The principle of operation of the laser machine for metal

The main elements of the metal laser machine are the laser generator and the laser (optical) head, which finally forms the direction of the beam to the processing point. The main components that make up the design of the laser head:

  • In the upper part laser machine for metal there is the last of the system of mirrors, which forms the beam supply to the surface of the processing material;
  • In the middle part of  there is a focusing lens that narrows the beam diameter to a minimum size;
  • In the lower part of laser machine for metal there is a nozzle that performs the functions of directing a focused beam to the processing point.

The beam, which has a high temperature and energy concentration, hitting the surface of the material, burns it out, creating a through cut. By adjusting the beam parameters, only the top layer can be removed, which will allow engraving work.

The metal laser cutter workpiece to be processed is located on the surface of the desktop, mounted on the machine bed, providing it with structural rigidity. The laser head is fixed on the movable part of the machine, which, moving vertically and horizontally, performs the necessary processing of the workpiece. On CNC machines, the drive of the portal with laser equipment is carried out by sending commands to electric motors and servomotors.

Advantages

  1. When performing a technological operation, there is no direct contact with the surface of the workpiece, which makes it possible to cut fragile and easily deformable materials without damage
  2. The edges of the laser machine for metal workpiece after processing are performed with high accuracy and do not require additional processing
  3. The technological process of laser machine for metal is easy to automate, it is carried out at a high speed for processing any materials from plastic to hard alloy
  4. The technology of laser machine for metal is able to produce products of the most complex design forms, while generating a minimum of waste

Disadvantage

  1. Laser machine for metal has a significant selling price and even high productivity does not make the cost of the product competitive compared to some other cutting technologies
  2. Limitation in the use of processed thicknesses – cutting thick workpieces leads to an increase in power consumption and a loss in the quality of processing that are present when cutting thin materials

Alternatives to laser machine for metal

Cutting metal on a guillotine

The main advantage over laser machine for metal is the low cost and availability of equipment. The technological cost of guillotine processing has practically no effect on the final price of the product. Disadvantages of the technology: unlike laser technology, the cutting accuracy is low, it has burrs even with well-sharpened knives and a set gap, only a straight cut can be performed. Edge processing is a mandatory additional technological operation.

Cutting on band saws

Unlike laser cutting, a band saw machine is practically unlimited in terms of the thickness of the workpieces being processed. The use of a batch cutting method reduces the labor intensity of work, bringing it closer to the time spent when performing laser cutting technology for each individual workpiece from a batch. The quality of the cut edges is not quite, but it approaches the processing of their laser technology and requires minimal refinement.

Plasma cutting

High-performance, as well as laser machine for metal, but the thickness of the workpieces being processed is much larger. Low accuracy and poor cut quality, thermal effect on the metal in the processing zone increase the cost of further edge preparation.

Waterjet cutting

Waterjet technology allows you to cut workpieces that are thicker than laser machine for metal, while obtaining quite acceptable accuracy and cut quality. There is no thermal effect on the metal. However, the technology is designed for the use of expensive quartz sand, which increases the cost of manufactured products. Processing speed is lower than laser and plasma cutting.

Applications

The possibility of processing by laser machine for metal of almost any material makes the scope of its application quite wide. From a large number of different production areas, the following can be distinguished, the most famous:

  • Metalworking (automotive and aviation industry, shipbuilding, space industry and others)
  • Woodworking (furniture production, plywood layouts, cutting parquet boards and others)
  • Production of advertising products (cutting letters, visual layouts, life-size figures, etc.)
  • Light and footwear industry (cutting material in ateliers and garment factories, creating patterns, patterns for clothes and shoes, etc.)
  • Production of souvenirs and gifts
  • Production of seals and stamps
  • Product marking, which is carried out on machines operating on the principle of laser engraving equipment, is distinguished by image clarity and durability

Types of laser machine for metal

The shape and dimensions of materials during laser processing are changed by two effects caused by radiation: melting and evaporation. To bring the process to evaporation, a powerful source of radiation is needed. Therefore, evaporation cutting is only used for processing thin sheets. To perform laser cutting by melting, a gas (nitrogen, oxygen, inert gases, air) is used as an auxiliary material, which removes the molten metal.

Types of equipment for laser cutting processing

A variety of technical tasks and requirements for machined parts using laser cutting make this equipment market very extensive in terms of design. Classification by categories can be by type of active medium, by type of excitation energy, by purpose, by degree of automation of equipment, by size range and power of the installation.

With gas and solid state sources laser cutter

One of the important elements of a quantum generator is the active medium. Existing equipment according to the type of active medium can be equipped with both gas and solid-state installations. They differ from each other by the wavelength of radiation. This parameter affects the transparency when the beam energy is absorbed by various materials.

The wavelength of gas installations is well perceived by non-metallic materials – wood, plastic, leather and others. Solid state produces a beam with a wavelength that works effectively with metals.

The technological process of laser cutting is not difficult to automate using numerical control tools. The installation with a laser is able to move along the most intricate trajectory, while maintaining high speed. Complex cutting patterns of metal sheets using solid state machines or contours in the form of artwork on plywood sheets using gas lasers can be performed on a programming machine.

Desktop, compact and floor standing laser cutter

For large industries, where the production volume of laser technology is approaching the maximum load of equipment, the use of portal laser cutting machines is optimal. The dimensions of the machine are determined by the dimensions of the desktop. The option with a large desktop or a slightly smaller one (medium format) is the most common.

Laser engraving machines, which are used to make, for example, small souvenirs, must be compact so that they can be placed on the desktop in the workshop.

Mini, small laser cutter

Programming machines with a laser installation, in addition to being used in large-scale industries, are used in small businesses, home workshops, for example, as an assistant in the manufacture of original handicrafts. Such equipment is small and can fit on a regular home table. In addition to the difference in size and lower power, the rest of the mini-machines are no different from professional equipment, while maintaining the accuracy of the cut and the quality of the edges.

Hand cutters

The use of a laser machine as a manual cutting device is limited by its weight and overall dimensions. Therefore, the radiation source does not have sufficient power to cut metal, cooling must maintain the thermal balance by natural transfer of the generated heat to the environment. Manual laser cutting is effective for processing fabrics, leather and other similar materials.

Fiber optic devices

Solid-state lasers, in which doped quartz glass fiber acts as an active substance, are called fiber lasers. They have a smaller focusing diameter than gas and solid-state lasers on crystals. This allows for faster heating and increased cutting capability by creating complex contours that would not be possible with other types of laser equipment.

Unpretentiousness in operation due to simpler setup and requirements for preventive maintenance (cleaning, adjustment), the absence of special requirements for air purity and room humidity increase the competitiveness of fiber optic devices compared to other similar types of equipment.

Diode lasers

The main element of a diode laser is an emitter in the form of a laser diode – a semiconductor crystal formed in the form of an optical resonator. In addition to the diode, the diode laser includes a special power supply device with which you can change the parameters of the output radiation, a temperature control device, and an optical device that increases the monochromaticity of the laser diode radiation.

However, the diode laser is still much inferior to other types of lasers in the degree of coherence and monochromaticity of the radiation. A large divergence in focusing does not allow achieving maximum energy concentration. The main advantage is the relative cheapness of diode lasers compared to other types.

Laser diodes are widely used as controlled light sources in optical fiber communication lines, in measuring equipment (laser rangefinder), laser pointers and target designators, for reading bar codes and other areas of technology.

Best laser cutters

Among foreign companies, one can separately distinguish factories located in the USA, Japan, Taiwan, European countries and manufacturers from China.

The first deliver products of impeccable quality. The most famous manufacturers: TRUMPF, SCHULER (Germany), Trotec (Austria), Australian FARLEY LASERLAB, GCC from Taiwan and others.

The latter has not the best reputation, however, the large Chinese brands,  Bodor, JNCTwith Swiss technology production in China, and others produce laser machines with high performance.

For more information about some companies and the models of machines they produce, see the information below.

2000w metal sheet laser cutting machine

TPF-1530P laser cutter

Machine for metal TPF- 1530P is one of the most popular models among metal cutters. The company offers various modifications and changes in characteristics for the tasks of your business. This metal laser equipment is distinguished by accuracy, speed and reliability, on a par with European counterparts and is much more pleasant at a good.

  • Specifications
  • Max. travel speed 80 / 100 / 120 m/min.
  • The Wattsan segmented rectangular welded bed is welded from sheet metal with a thickness of 6 to 15 mm.
  • The thickness depends on the speed data of the machine.
  • High precision cutting metal.
  • Absence of burrs and deposits on the edge of the material.
  • Guides HIWIN.
  • Working field From 1500×3000 mm.
  • The maximum thickness of a metal sheet for laser cutting is 30 mm.
  • Any metal can be processed on these machines: steel, titanium, aluminum, etc.
  • Depending on the speed of movement, portals from different materials are used.

The cabin can be installed on any metal cutter. And according to safety regulations, cabinet protection is installed on machines with a radiator with a power of 2000 W or more without fail. Designed to protect against reflected radiation and sparks during the cutting process.

4000w laser cutting machine

3000w fiber laser cutter is a CNC fiber laser for cutting sheet steel with a working table size of 1500 mm x 3000 mm. The power of the laser machine is 3000 W, which provides a maximum wall thickness of the workpiece of 12 mm. The focal length is automatically adjusted by the laser head control system. Water cooling is carried out by an industrial chiller with temperature control. A computer with software provides processing of workpieces of complex configuration.

Criterias of choice

For optimal selection of laser equipment should be guided by analyze the following information.

Scope of work

Laser equipment is used in industrial production, small businesses, and home workshops. Large and medium power units are used in production shops, while desktop compact and mini units will be more effective in households and in individual entrepreneurship.

Machine dimensions

This parameter is directly dependent on the amount of work performed.

The type of material being processed. Depending on the type of laser installation (gas, solid state), the one that works best with the material being processed is selected.

Emitter power. The higher this parameter, the more thickness the laser will cut in one pass.

The presence of the function of metal laser equipment moving the table

Installations with this option (automatic or manual) increase the functionality of the equipment.

Number of cutting heads. Equipment with two cutting heads increases productivity, especially effective when cutting with a large number of small elements.

Availability of additional options

They will ensure better operation of the laser machine: complete with an external laser tube cooling device, installation of a rotary device for engraving and the possibility of processing products such as pipes, and others.

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