Laser cutting is the most accurate process for precise cuts on just about any material. Laser cutting is the use of a high-powered laser to cut materials to exact specifications set in the controlling software of the laser cutting machines. The digital settings are converted by the software and administered by the laser for clean and precise cuts. Laser converting applications are used to perform through cuts, kiss-cuts, laser perforation, scores, laser etches, laser ablations, laser welding, and drilling.
Laser cutting is a much more efficient process than mechanical tooling and cutting because it costs less and is much more accurate. The digital control allows for unlimited cutting paths and easy cutting pattern changes that would simply not be practical on a mechanical machine. The laser performs the cut by melting, burning, or vaporizing away the material and leaving a sharp, clean edge. Materials that can be processed by laser cutting include paper and paper board, adhesive tapes, plastics, films, textiles, abrasives, metals, and photovoltaics.
There are two main types of lasers used for cutting services, the CO2 laser and the YAG laser. The CO2 laser is used for cutting, boring, and engraving. These lasers are created using radio frequency energy and are used for industrial cutting of mild steel, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, paper, wax, plastics, wood, and fabrics. CO2 lasers have four different variants, fast axial flow, slow axial flow, transverse flow, and slab. Axial flow resonators circulate a mixture of carbon dioxide, helium, and nitrogen with a turbine or blower at different velocities. Transverse flow lasers circulate this mix much slower and slab resonators have static gas fields that do not require pressurization. YAG lasers are used for very high power boring and engraving. YAG lasers are powerful enough to engrave in strong materials like metal and ceramics.
Laser beams are produced by stimulating the lasing material, CO2 in some cases, with electrical discharges or lamps within a closed area. Once the material is stimulated, the beam is reflected off a partial mirror until it gathers enough energy to escape as a visible light beam. This light beam is directed to a lens that focuses the beam. The beam is used to make a piercing before cutting. During cutting, the direction of the beam polarization must be rotated to ensure a smooth edge. The two main methods of cutting are vaporization and melt and blow. Vaporization cutting uses the heat of the laser to bring the surface to its boiling point and burn a hole. The hole deepens as the vapor erodes the walls of the hole. Vaporization cutting is ideal for material that does not melt such as wood, carbon, and thermoset plastics. With melt and blow cutting, the material is heated until it melts and the melted part is blown away by a gas jet. This is a common process for cutting metals.
Laser cutting has many advantages over mechanical cutting. The labor involved is less intensive and it is much more cost effective. The precision of the cut is better because the laser does not wear during cutting and there is less chance of the material being cut to warp or become contaminated. Lasers can also cut through more kinds of materials than mechanical cutters and have controlling software to ensure accuracy. There are companies that offer professional laser cutting services for all industrial cutting needs.