The sheet metal fabrication industry has significantly transformed with the advent of laser technology. This innovation enables the creation of intricate designs and shapes that were previously unattainable through traditional methods. Additionally, laser cutting achieves precise cuts by using highly focused beams of light, resulting in faster production times, minimal waste, and maximum precision.
This article will explore the various techniques involved in laser cutting sheet metal. We will also cover the types of lasers used in modern metal fabrication.
Advanced Laser Cutting Methods
The use of lasers has increased the flexibility and customization of sheet metal fabrication. Here are some of the most cutting-edge procedures used by manufacturers today:
The multi-axis cutting technique involves using a machine that can cut along multiple axes. This means the laser can move in various directions, allowing greater flexibility in cutting complex shapes and designs. Multi-axis cutting also enables the production of more intricate parts, reducing the need for post-processing and improving the quality of the final product.
High-power cutting uses lasers with greater wattage to cut through thick metal sheets. This technique particularly benefits heavy-duty applications, such as the aerospace and automotive industries. Furthermore, it can cut through metals up to 25 mm thick, resulting in a faster production process and reduced need for manual finishing.
Pulsed cutting involves applying brief pulses of laser light to slice through sheet metal. This technique is especially useful for cutting thin materials like aluminum and stainless steel. This method reduces the amount of heat generated during the cutting process. This minimizes the risk of warping or damaging the material.
Fusion cutting melts and fuses the material to achieve a precise cut. This technique is best suited for cutting thick materials and precision cutting complex shapes. The laser beam is directed onto the metal surface, melting and vaporizing to make a narrow cut. Finally, the final cut is extremely exact and clean, eliminating the need for additional finishing processes.
Flame cutting is a process that combines a laser with a high-temperature flame. Initially, the laser is used to heat the material, and then the flame is used to melt and cut through the metal. This technique is a cost-effective substitute for plasma cutting and is often used in construction and manufacturing industries.
Types of Lasers for Sheet Metal Cutting
Different lasers are used for various sheet metal cutting applications, each with unique features and benefits. Discussed below are three of the most popular laser types:
CO2 lasers are among the most commonly used lasers for sheet metal cutting. They use a gas mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium to generate the laser beam. They also have a wavelength of 10.6 microns, making them suitable for cutting metallic and non-metallic materials. Lastly, they offer high precision and can cut through a wide range of thicknesses.
Fiber lasers use a doped fiber as the lasing medium to produce a beam. As a result, they are highly efficient, require less maintenance, and have a higher power output than CO2 lasers. Moreover, they have a wavelength of 1.06 microns, ideal for cutting metals like stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. Fiber lasers can also produce high-quality cuts at high speeds.
Crystal lasers are solid-state lasers that use a crystal as the lasing medium. The most common types of crystals used are neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) and neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate (Nd:YVO4). They are highly efficient and offer high beam quality and stability, making them popular for various applications.
Metal Works of High Point: Your Partner for High-Quality Laser Cutting Solutions
At Metal Works of High Point, our metal laser services can help streamline your fabrication process and lower production expenses! We prioritize providing our customers with high-quality manufacturing services at a reduced cost. We can also handle all your custom cutting needs with our team of skilled professionals and cutting-edge 3-axis cutting systems.
Contact us today to learn more about our services and capabilities!