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Metal Laser Cutting 101

Laser Cutting Machinery

Laser cutting is one of the most effective and popular alternatives to traditional metal cutting. It offers numerous impressive benefits, such as high precision and cleaner edges than those achieved with waterjet cutting or turret-punching. In fact, the edges achieved with laser cutting are so precise that no secondary finishing processes are necessary. Depending on the needs of a given application, one of several laser-cutting techniques can be used.

Laser cutting technology

What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is a precision manufacturing process that cuts metals as well as numerous other materials. It utilizes a high-powered laser beam to cut through materials cleanly. The laser beam is created when an external source excites electrons within an optical resonating chamber. The electrons then emit light in the form of photons that are reflected back and forth inside the optical resonator. The photons emerge as a small, highly concentrated beam of light, known as a laser beam. This beam is so powerful that everything it comes into contact with is melted, burned, or vaporized, creating precise cuts.

Fiber Optic Laser Cutting Equipment

The VyTek FiberCAB 44 laser is a highly advanced laser cutting technology used to create some of the most precise cuts possible. It features a 3,000-watt laser, capable of cutting all types of metal quickly and efficiently. The machine uses fiber optic lasers which are a type of solid-state laser that is ideal for cutting metal. The laser’s strength is increased due to the fiber optic component and it is able to target an area 100 times smaller than that of traditional laser equipment. This small spot size ensures crisp, high-quality cut edges and minimal material warping.

Fiber optic laser cutting equipment is frequently used to create components for the food and beverage industry and medical industries. It is ideally suited for materials such as:

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel, with or without film coatings
  • Steel

Laser Cutting Methods

There are several laser-cutting methods available. Selecting the best type for a given application depends on the material being used and the desired features of the end component. Laser cutting methods include:

  • Vaporization cutting: This method uses a focused laser beam to heat a material’s surface. The material is heated until it reaches boiling point, creating a keyhole in the material. The keyhole gradually increases in size. As it deepens, a vapor is generated that erodes the material’s molten walls, further enlarging the hole. Vaporization cutting is used with non-melting materials, such as wood, thermoset plastics, and carbon.
  • Melt and blow: In this method, high-pressure gas blows molten material out of the cutting area. First, a material is heated until it melts, at which point the molten material is blown out of the kerf by a gas jet. Since a combination of laser and gas jet is used, the amount of power required to cut through a given material is decreased. The melt-and-blow method is used to cut through metals.
  • Thermal stress cracking: This laser cutting method is used to cut through brittle materials, such as glass. It relies on the fact that brittle materials are sensitive to thermal stress fractures. During the process, a laser beam is focused on the material’s surface, heating it to cause thermal expansion. When the material expands, a crack is formed. The laser beam guides the position of this crack, cutting through the material.
  • Silicon wafter stealth dicing: During this process, microelectronic chips from silicon wafers are cut using a pulsed Nd: YAG laser. Stealth Dicing focuses the laser beam inside a workpiece where it begins to crack the wafer. Next, an expansion process is used to separate the wafer by applying external stress along the crack.
  • Reactive cutting: Also known as flame cutting or burning stabilized laser gas cutting, this reactive laser cutting process uses a laser beam as an ignition source. Similar to torch cutting, it effectively slices through very thick steel plates and carbon steel over 1 mm.

Metal Laser Cutting From American Industrial

American Industrial Company offers precision metal laser cutting services using one of the most advanced systems on the market. Backed by over 30 years of experience, we offer high-quality parts at competitive prices with short lead times. Our service offerings include destructive, non-destructive, and hardness testing, complete with detailed documentation and inspection reports. To get started on a metal laser cutting project with our team, request a quote today.

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