How Does Laser Cutting Work & What Are The Advantages?

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How Does Laser Cutting Work?

Laser Cutting is a technology that was once only science fiction. It is an innovative technology that is used in a variety of different manufacturing applications and is now common place in many material companies. However as the technology has become more refined and less expensive it has become incorporated into some school’s programs. Laser cutting is carried out by directing a high-power laser’s output through a series of optics. The optics are used to control the direction of the laser so that it can be used for exact cutting. The laser is powerful enough to cut the material by either melting or burning the material away. The laser is smooth and leaves a high-quality edge surface. This is a quality that makes laser cutting perfect for a wide range of different manufacturing applications.

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The laser beam is generated through the use of electrical discharges or by using an enclosed container filled with lamps. The electrical discharges are used to stimulate a lasing medium which reflects the beam through the use of a partial mirror until the required amount of energy is achieved to create the cutting power. The laser beam that is created is monochromatic coherent light. A monochromatic light is a wave of a single frequency and equal amplitude in phase and has two waves per phase. Coherent light is a light created by a beam of photons of equal frequency which doesn’t diffuse or spread. The beam is usually about 0.32 mm diameter but if the beam is intensified correctly then it can be narrowed to about 0.025 mm creating a very intense laser beam.

What is The Laser Cutting Process?

The laser cutting process has two stages. The first stage is to pulse an intense beam to make an initial cut. The time length varies between materials. Stainless steel requires between 5-15 seconds of pulsing for very half an inch of thickness. This original cut is known as the piercing.  The second stage is the cutting stage where the beam polarization is rotated as it cuts around the outside of the work piece. The rotation is required to achieve a smooth a cut as possible.

 

What Are the Advantages of Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is more advantageous than mechanical cutting. The laser cutter is a lot easier to handle. The set up involves having to input the required measurement into a computer and then pressing the start button. There is also a decreased risk of contamination of the work piece as each beam is new and hasn’t been used to cut a previous material. This is unlike the cutting edge of a mechanical cutter which might have been used to cut a variety of different materials. Mechanical cutters also wear as they are used and eventually need to be replaced unlike a laser beam.  Laser beams also have a minimal heat affected zone so are less likely to warp any of the materials.