What is a Laser Cutter?
The Laser cutter is a specific type of sheet metal cutting tool. This tool uses a high intensity light to cut unnecessary portions off to make a high quality surface finish in an efficient and cost effective manner. The laser uses computer numerical control (CNC) to direct the beam to burn away a precise amount of metal.
A motion control system follows a computer numerical control (CNC) of the pattern. The laser uses beam benders to bounce the high intensity lights onto the plate. Then it goes through the nozzle right before it hits the plate. Compressed gas like oxygen and nitrogen can also flow through the nozzle depending on the type of laser.
Laser Cutter Process
Computer Aided Design
With the aid of computers, certain methods use Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software to develop designs with the aid of computers. Specific measurements for the laser use designs to collaborate. This often produces files that use the CAM process later.
Computer Aided Manufacturing
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) refers to the process of sending the measurements to the computer. The computer can’t process 2D or 3D drawing alone, so it needs translation into G-Code.
G-Code is the most widely used Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming language. It mainly uses CAM to translate measurements into code that make reading easier for CNC. Machine controllers (industrial computers) provide G-code instructions that tell the motors where to move, how fast to move, and what path to follow.
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) refers to the specific instructions provided to the machines used in CAM. The machine uses G-Code to guide the laser along the specific path with speed and feed appropriate to the parts.
Laser Cutter Types
The CO2 laser cuts, bores and engraves the sheet metal. The process involves passing a current through a gas mixture of carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and possibly some hydrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and xenon. They can operate with DC current, AC current, or radio frequency. Electrical gas discharge creates an electric pump. CO2 lasers typically emit at a wavelength of 10.6 micrometers. This laser can cut through mild steel, aluminum, titanium, other metal alloys, wood, and paper. Papermaking, woodworking, and the sheet metal industry use the CO2 laser.
Nd:Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (YAG) laser
Different applications use Nd:YAG and is one of the most common types of lasers. Certain jobs use this laser like high-power, boring, and engraving. Nd: YAG lasers typically emit light with a wavelength of 1064 micrometers. The crystal responds well to optical pumping and reaches laser threshold relatively easy. The threshold is low because it achieves population inversion with a 4 level pumping scheme.
According to RP-Photonics.com, the Nd:YAG laser is a solid-state device that uses a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet crystal as its gain medium. Optically pumped by flashlamp or laser diode, it can function in continuous or pulse mode. Nd:YAG lasers are among the most common of all types. They operate in the infrared, at 1064 nm. Industrial use is primarily for metal cutting and plastic etching. With power levels of one to five kW, metallurgy uses laser YAG to cut and weld steel.
With this technology, there are so many benefits to use this for your company.
Laser Cutter Benefits
Laser Cutter Precision
One great benefit is that when the laser cutter collaborates correctly, it will always get the part cut exactly the way the customer requests. Width can be extremely small with laser cutting, less than 0.001 inch, and dimensional accuracy is extremely precise, at about ± 0.0005 inch. Thanks to CAM translating G-Code, CAD will always collaborate designs exactly to the precise measurements. A laser cutter will create clean edges and a smooth finish to any part. The laser cutter burns, vaporizes, or melts anything in the laser’s path, so no unnecessary edges will remain.
Laser Cutter Consistency
Through the computer’s precision, every process will be consistent to the programming. Once the machine operator collaborates the laser correctly, every part will have the correct measurements throughout the process. Even with incorrect collaboration, each part will be consistently the same with how the process works. With the laser’s precision and power, each metal part will have clean, consistent, and smooth edges every single time. This is regardless of complexity of the part or project.
Laser Cutter Versatility
With the persistence and consistency, there are an incredible variety of ways to use laser cutters. Laser cutters are not only fantastic for cutting metals like steel, titanium, aluminum and other alloys, but they are also great for cutting wood, glass, and even diamonds. Not only can they cut, but they can also etch and engrave on surfaces like plastic. This is due to the ability to focus on the power of the laser. Depending on the level of power, it can collaborate to burn through the part or just burn enough of it to create a design on the part.
With more consistency and less mistakes, there are less parts that the machine operator needs to throw out. This means that there is less waste and that is also great for the environment. This is also great cost effectiveness by not having to order more unnecessary parts. Spending on parts in general is very expensive. Spending money on little things like extra parts adds up for a company. Investing in getting your parts quoted by Parts Badger will benefit your company in the long-term.
With more consistency, laser cutters use less energy. Laser cutters will typically use about 10kW of power during a cutting session, while other cutting mechanisms will use around 50kW of power. With less energy, lasers are both cost saving and environmentally friendly. This is due to each project using less carbon dioxide. This creates a smarter and more efficient work environment for all workers. With more efficiency, projects finish much quicker and that pleases customers.
Less Finishing Requirements
With each consistent, precise, and high quality part, there is less to do once the parts are complete. The laser’s heat will completely burn off any unnecessary parts that cause the product to have a rough surface or burrs. Since the beams tightly focus, the parts will not have any internal flaws. Quality checks will become more efficient and timely. This leads to a much quicker lead time.
Shorter Lead Times
Laser cutters are known for getting the job done on the first try. With CNC and CAD user input, the operators collaborate the parts to cut exactly the way that the 2D or 3D design asked for. As long as the original design is correct, so should the end result of the laser cutter. The laser cutter has an average lead time of only 2 to 4 weeks. At Parts Badger, you can even expect quicker. The lead time is much shorter from needing only one try to get it correct. Laser cutters are known for being extremely precise.
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