For many millennia, humanity has had a need for cutting. In pre-historic times, materials such as leather and cloth were being cut, and later, wood and metal started being cut or carved as well. By the Industrial Revolution, mass-production called for the refinement and cutting or carving of such materials as steel, titanium, and more, and today, cutting is still a major part of manufacturing. Cars, toaster ovens, computer parts, and more require cutting, and laser cutting is a popular way to get this work done. There are definitely some advantages to buying equipment from a laser cutting company, or hiring a laser cutting company to help produce car parts can be a real boon for business. Custom laser cutting services can also be called upon if need be. In fact, even laser engraving plastic parts can be done, and laser cutting plastic parts may be in abundant supply. What might a business and manufacturing professional expect from a laser cutting company today?
On Laser Cutting
Esab explains how a laser cutting company can get its work done. A laser cutting company often works with metal, which is a staple material for construction, and this may range from building pickup trucks to power tools. Steel plates, aluminum plates, and more can be cut with an industrial laser, and laser cutting is typically highly accurate and powerful, with excellent cut quality in the work. A laser has only a small heat affect zone, meaning that it can easily be used for carving intricate shapes and patterns on the surface of a material. The heat will not melt or warp anything around it, which makes delicate work possible with a laser cutting company.
People are familiar with lasers, but they most often associate laser beams with laser pointers or wireless TV remotes and the like. How, then, can a laser cut through sheer metal? A laser in a factory today has its light bounced around a number of mirrors before it is tightly compacted through a nozzle’s bore, and compressed gas such as oxygen or nitrogen will also be present to help focus the beam and maintain its power. A special lens, or curved mirror, can focus that beam, and this is done in the laser cutting head. The beam can only be consistent and focused if all hardware is aligned just right, and it all must be centered on the nozzle. A large laser beam will be focused onto a single, much smaller point by the time the laser strikes the target, and this makes for a pinpoint accuracy area that has a lot of concentrated heat. This is a more industrial version of how a magnifying glass can focus sunlight into a narrow point and set a dry leaf on fire, and in a factory, a focused laser beam will apply a great deal of heat to one tiny area.
The high power yielded by a laser beam machine allows for rapid heating and even partial or complete vaporization of the material that it strikes, such as a steel sheet. For steel, oxygen is used during the cutting, and the laser beam will start a typical “oxy-fuel” burning process on the material, like an oxy-fuel torch would. Stainless steel or aluminum, meanwhile, calls for the beam to simply melt the material, and nitrogen gas is used in this case.
With all this focused heat and power, and compressed gases, it is vital that all parts in a laser cutting head are perfectly shaped and aligned, or the laser beam may suffer a serious reduction in power or accuracy. Workers at a laser cutting company should regularly get their hardware inspected and checked for issues, such as warped, cracked, or missing lenses. Or, if the pressurized gas is running low, a new canister can be installed. But sometimes, a canister of pure gas may have some impurities or other issues inside, and this may affect laser performance. If a gas purity issue is suspected, workers can use a pure, reference gas and perform some testing on the suspect gas canister. If the gas was faulty, the canister can be sent back to the manufacturer, and a new one should be used for the laser work.