McKean’s Laser-Cutting Technology in Sheet Metal Fabrication

Blog | September 27th, 2022

Cutting with a laser involves using a high-powered laser steered by optics and computer numerical control (CNC) to guide the beam or the material being cut. In most cases, the procedure involves utilising a motion control system to adhere to a CNC or G-code that specifies the pattern to be cut into the material. A high-quality surface finished edge is produced whether the concentrated laser beam is allowed to burn, melt, or vaporise or whether it is removed by a jet of gas.

Cutting Through Beaming: The Wonders of Laser

The emission of the laser beam is brought about by the excitation of lasing materials utilising electrical discharges or lamps contained within an enclosed space. The lasing material is amplified by being reflected internally via a partial mirror until its energy is sufficient to escape as a stream of coherent monochromatic light. This process continues until the energy of the lasing material is sufficient for it to escape. This light is concentrated on the task at hand thanks to mirrors or fibre optics that direct it back towards the source after passing the beam via a lens. In most cases, the diameter of a laser beam is less than 0.0125 inches when it is at its narrowest point, but, depending on the thickness of the material, kerf widths can be as thin as 0.004 inches.

If the laser cutting process needs to begin somewhere other than the edge of the material, a piercing process is used instead. In this process, a high-powered pulsed laser is used to make a hole in the material. For instance, it can take 5 to 15 seconds to burn through a 0.5-inch-thick (13 mm) stainless steel sheet.

Other Types of Laser Cutting

Depending on the scale of the system and the architecture, various cooling methods are utilised, both for the laser generator and the external optics. Even though waste heat can be released directly into the atmosphere, it is more typical to utilise a coolant. Water is a common refrigerant that is put through its paces in a heat exchanger or chiller before being put back into use.

A laser microjet system is one form of water-cooled laser processing. This system links a pulsed laser beam with a low-pressure water jet to guide the beam in the same manner that an optical fibre would. Other advantages of ‘wet’ laser cutting over ‘dry’ laser cutting include high dicing speeds, parallel kerf, and omnidirectional cutting. The water provides these advantages, which also has the benefit of cleaning debris and cooling the material.

The use of fibre lasers in metal cutting is also becoming increasingly common. This innovation uses a solid gain medium rather than a liquid or gas as its carrier medium. The laser is amplified in a glass fibre to produce a significantly smaller spot size than that achieved with CO2 techniques. As a result, this technology is suitable for cutting reflective metals because of the laser’s pinpoint accuracy.

Impressed and intrigued by how we have developed this technological advancement in our works? Discover more of what we can offer by calling us today!

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