What does laser cutting do?
Laser cut materials are a great solution for many projects, both in R&D, production and for hobbyists. Using high powered beams of light, this type of technology has been around for decades now and is growing in popularity. Different in many aspects from other methods of manufacturing like CNC, wire EDM, knife cutting, and waterjet, lasers have “cut” their place as a qualified technology. Some aspects of what lasers do:
- Laser cuts result in a tapered edge -The laser entry opening is slightly larger than the exit side.
- Lasers are very accurate. Tolerance on many cases +/- .0005” to .001” mils.
- Laser has minimal to no vibration on the substrate being cut.
- There is no tool that gets dull or breaks. The cutting is done by the beam of light.
- Changing designs is simple- Lasers cut from CAD files.
- Many lasers have a smaller footprint than other manufacturing machines. Many within a 5 footx5foot area or less.
- Choice of laser types, focuses the best technology to be used:
What are the advantages of laser cutting?
Using a beam of light is still something of great wonder and awe even though laser technology has been around for many decades now. You just can’t grab a light source, point it at a surface and hope it begins to cut. You need to focus the light, amplify the source and through mirrors and lenses, focus the beam. Remember when you were kid (and I certainly do) and you took a magnifying glass, held it to catch the sunlight and watched the beam burn the concrete, the wood, melt the plastic. This was a very basic example of light being able to cut. Though Albert Einstein hypothesized on stimulated emission of radiation, it was until 1959 when Gordon Gould took that theory and created Light amplification of stimulated emission of radiation, or LASER. Over the next 60 plus years, laser technology has found its niche in manufacturing. Below are some advantages to using laser technology:
- Lasers cut with CAD files- enabling fast changes to designs.
- No tooling required for most projects, no NRE costs for this purpose.
- Since no tooling is required, it is easy to cut 1 part or fully production level.
- Laser technology is great for R&D and prototype.
- Laser to not inflict vibration on the material.
- Laser cutting is very repeatable-great for production.
- Lasers can cut from extremely thin foils up to thicker gauges for industry.
Is Laser Cutting Fast?
The speed of laser cutting is a dynamic aspect influenced by various factors, including the material being processed, its thickness, and the power of the laser system. Laser cutting stands out for its high versatility, allowing for rapid adjustments in materials and designs. This adaptability makes it particularly valuable in situations where frequent changes are required. However, it’s worth noting that in certain cases, laser cutting may appear comparatively slower than traditional methods such as stamping or die cutting. Despite this, laser cutting excels in speed when it comes to prototyping, offering a swift and efficient solution for creating intricate designs and prototypes with precision.
- Material Type: The composition of the material being cut significantly impacts the cutting speed. Some materials may require slower cutting speeds to achieve optimal results, while others can be processed more quickly. A-Laser’s systems are equipped to handle a wide variety of materials, optimizing cutting speeds based on material characteristics.
- Material Thickness: Thicker materials generally require a slower cutting speed to ensure proper penetration and precision. A-Laser’s advanced systems are designed to adapt to varying material thicknesses, providing optimal speed without compromising on the quality of the cut.
- Laser System Power: The power of the laser system plays a crucial role in determining cutting speed. Higher-powered lasers can cut through materials more quickly, making them suitable for applications where speed is paramount. A-Laser’s cutting-edge systems leverage powerful laser sources, ensuring efficient and swift material processing.
Given these factors, below are some examples of how long laser cutting would take for different thicknesses of different materials.
For Stainless Steel material:
- 0.005” thick: 30 min for 50 pcs
- 0.005” thick: 60 min for 100 pcs
- 0.015” thick: 45 min for 50 pcs
- 0.015” thick: 90 min for 100pcs
For Kapton material:
- 0.005” thick: 30 min for 50 pcs
- 0.005” thick: 60 min for 100pcs
- 0.015” thick: 70 min for 50pcs
- 0.015” thick: 140 min for 100pcs
How to Determine the Right Laser for Your Job:
Choosing the right laser for your specific job is crucial to achieving optimal results. Consider the following factors:
- Material Type: Different lasers are suitable for different materials. Ensure the laser you choose aligns with the material you are working with.
- Thickness: The thickness of the material impacts the choice of laser. Thicker materials may require higher-powered lasers for efficient cutting.
- Precision Requirements: If your job demands high precision and intricate details, a UV laser might be the ideal choice.
- Versatility: Evaluate whether the laser system can handle a variety of materials and applications to meet your diverse needs.
- Production Volume: Consider the scale of your job in terms of production volume. If you have high-volume production requirements, you may benefit from a laser system that offers fast and continuous processing capabilities.
- Environment: Assess the environmental factors surrounding your job. Certain industries, such as electronics manufacturing, may require lasers that meet specific environmental standards like Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) protection, or other stringent Quality Control measures.
- Cost & Speed: The balance between cost and speed is crucial in determining the right laser for your job.
- Cutting Area Size: Evaluate the size of the cutting area required for your job as different laser systems have different sized platforms in regards to the laser bed.
As technology advances, A-Laser continues to innovate, offering a comprehensive range of UV, IR, and Fiber laser solutions. Understanding the unique benefits of each type and selecting the right laser for your job ensures unparalleled precision and efficiency in material processing. Stay ahead in your industry with A-Laser’s cutting-edge laser technology.