The thermal procedure known as "laser cutting sheet metal" involves removing chunks of metal from a sheet using a laser beam. There are primarily three ways to cut sheet metal.
In fusion cutting, the molten material is ejected from the cutting torch using an inert cutting gas, frequently nitrogen or argon. It prevents oxidation at the cutting edge without interfering with the process because it uses the inert gas. The method works well for flat, thin sheets and situations where the material needs to match strict visual standards with little post-processing requirements.
Oxygen gas is used in flame cutting to evacuate the molten material. The exothermic reaction it triggers is what increases the process's overall energy input. Along with other forms of sheet metal and fusible materials like ceramics, the method is excellent for cutting mild steel.
With less melting required, sublimation cutting employs a laser to vaporize portions of a material. Similar to fusion cutting, inert gases such as nitrogen, helium, or argon are used as cutting gas to keep oxidants away from the cutting edges. Even though it takes a while, it creates excellent edges for cutting with great precision.
Here are the top five benefits of this manufacturing method.
In the fabrication of laser cutting, the light beam slices metals with extreme precision. Unlike many other cutting techniques, the laser can melt and vaporize materials with unmatched accuracy and precision. While laser cutters may produce pieces with an accuracy of as little as 0.003 mm, some die cutting instruments have tolerance levels of roughly 1 to 3 mm.
Using a lot of the fabrication materials is possible thanks to laser cutters. The machine increases the number of useable pieces of any metal sheet, leaving little to no room for waste due to the technology. So you don't have to worry about supplying extra supplies; you can just buy the right amount because you know there will be enough.
Operations involving laser cutting are incredibly versatile and flexible. A single laser cutter works well for a variety of cutting tasks, including straightforward cuts, intricately detailed ones, marks, drilling, and even engravings. As a result, manufacturers are not required to periodically replace tooling during the process.
Unlike some other cutting equipment, laser cutters don't require relocating various components. This enables them to efficiently remove material fragments without expending a lot of energy. While laser cutters only need 10kW to operate, most other processes might take up to five times that amount.
Perhaps you believe that the heat used in laser cutting could warp, distort, or even completely destroy materials. Well, that's not true. The parts that are significantly influenced by heat during laser cutting do not endanger the tolerance of the features or components after manufacture.
Although laser cutting sheet metal has many advantages, it also has certain drawbacks. Let's talk about them.
You might need to hire a specialist to operate the machine for the creation of parts if you want to make the most of your laser cutters. An professional, for instance, will rapidly identify a flaw or poor setup that could compromise the integrity of the equipment or the production processes.
Although a wide variety of materials, including metal sheets, can be cut well using a laser, it is recommended to utilize other cutting techniques when working with thick metals. Standard laser cutters work well for cutting steel up to 6 mm thick and aluminum sheets up to 15 mm thick.
Laser cutters generate a lot of toxic fumes when cutting plastic since they melt and evaporate materials. Therefore, it is crucial to use laser cutting in a well-ventilated space or a secure working environment.
A top-notch laser cutter is expensive. It may cost around $3000 for a common laser cutter, which is twice as much as waterjet or plasma cutters. You must make a significant upfront investment to use laser cutting services as a business strategy.