How Laser Cutting Works
Laser cutting allows nearly any material to be cut into limitless patterns with precision unattainable by any other cutting method. Metals, plastics, paper, cloth, and most natural materials can be beautifully and accurately cut with CMS Laser’s systems custom designed for your application.
Industrial laser cutting systems can be implemented in batch manufacturing but also lend themselves very well to automation controlled by computer software in a production line system. Some of the benefits of using a laser cutter over other means of cutting include: the flexibility and precision cutting of simple or complex parts, a non contact cut which means no marks or contamination of the material, a high quality cut with no extra finishing required, and the ability to cut virtually any material.
Laser Cutting Methods
A laser cutter mostly uses a thermal process in which the light emerges from the laser’s aperture. Then the beam is focused by a lens on to the surface of the material being cut. The beam either melts, burns or vaporizes the material in a localized area. Gas-assisted laser cutters use a jet of gas coaxial along with the laser beam to eject the molten material from the cut. This leaves an edge with a high quality finish.
Industries Commonly Using Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is used in a variety of manufacturing applications and is the number one industrial use of high power lasers. With its unmatched flexibility, accuracy and perfect edge, laser cutting is replacing conventional machining processes like plasma and oxy-fuel cutting.
- With an ever-expanding number of metals and alloys being used in Automotive manufacturing, lasers provide a versatile, powerful and fast method of cutting, along with any number of other materials found in the production of automobiles.
- The manufacture of PCBs requires expedient depaneling of those boards. The growing number of substrates, including flex circuits, and the complex shapes in which they can be designed demands a laser cutting process that can reach into spaces other methods cannot, is easily adaptable and can be quickly switched to new patterns. Both CO2 and UV lasers can be found in PCB depaneling, depending on the application needs and substrate.
- Cutting Glass has always been a bit of a messy proposition, and mechanical means left cut edges that a) were conducive to cracking the pane at some future point, or b) needed to be polished to remove the micro-cracks that caused A, or c) both. Lasers effectively cut glass using a melting method that leaves no micro-cracks, and no need to clean up all the micro shards left from mechanical methods.
Typical laser cutters cut as small as 1 mm in size and specialized lasers can cut even smaller. Most industrial lasers cut with a pulse or with a continuous wave (CW). A pulsed laser outputs a high power burst of energy for a short time. This is useful for cutting very small holes, piercing the material to start a cut in the interior, or for cutting material that may all melt if a constant laser beam was used.