The word “laser” is an acronym that stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and a laser beam is a highly focused wavelength radiation that will not dissipate. The process of laser cutting generally employs a carbon dioxide laser to perform low-distortion hot cutting, usually of a metal material. The “cut” of a laser is actually an energy transfer that causes the material to melt or burn along a line. Laser cutting allows for tighter accuracies on a smaller scale than any other metal cutting method.

Laser cutters are frequently controlled through precision programs. These precision programs, which direct the laser cutting process with minimal human intervention, get the information they need from CNC systems that use CAD designs to input machining details. In addition, technicians may partner an “assist gas,” like nitrogen or carbon dioxide, with laser cutting, in order to ready newly cut surfaces for painting or corrosion resistance coating. CO2 laser cutting, for example, is a gas assist laser cutting technique, and it is considered the most powerful wave laser in the world today.

In addition to cutting, lasers can perform various machining and micromachining services, such as laser drilling, laser welding, laser etching and laser engraving. This wonderful technology is instrumental in many industries, especially in those that require microscopic tolerances and meticulous accuracy, like microtechnology and electronics. In the medical industry, laser cutting is used to drill hypo-tubes, catheter holes, filtering devices, gas flow orifices and other highly intricate devices.

Aerospace and automotive manufacturing industries use laser cutting to fabricate pieces like precision parts, gaskets, solar cells, nozzles and circuit boards. Cell phone parts, transducers, microchips and military and communication devices rely on laser cutting as well. Even water piping and refrigeration systems have some laser cut elements. Read More…

Leading Manufacturers

Great Lakes Engineering, Inc.

Maple Grove, MN | 763-425-4755

Applied Laser Technologies

Schofield, WI | 715-359-3002

Accuburn, Inc.

Williamsport, IN | 765-762-1100

This popular method of cutting does have some disadvantages, most which relate hot cutting. For example, because the material gets so hot, narrow areas may experience thermal expansion and/or warping. Also, when oxygen is used as a gas assist, it puts stress into the cut edge of some materials, causing distortion and oxidation. (This is mostly seen in dense hole patterns.)Lasers aren’t very effective on metals like aluminum and copper alloys (because they reflect light and absorb and conduct heat), and neither are they compatible with glass, crystal or any other non-metals. Additionally, they require large amounts of energy. This and limited material options, make laser cutting a more costly process. Finally, all lasers, but especially infrared and ultraviolet ones, present potential danger to one’s eyesight.

Despite these drawbacks, laser cutting still offers manufacturers distinct advantages over traditional cutting processes mechanical and thermal machining, EDM, arc welding and flame cutting. Stable motion systems ensure outstanding control of laser beams and extremely high quality cuts. Laser cutting accuracy rates top those of any other cutting methods, with slightly higher precision tolerances and smaller slicing widths than even water jet cutting.

Laser cutting produces parts with nearly zero edge deformation, roll-off or edge factor, meaning that very little burring is left on their edges. It’s faster than other tool-fabrication methods, with consistently quicker turnaround times, thanks to the ease with which design changes can be accommodated. The use of CNC machinery means that fewer technicians are required and that greater safety is ensured. Finally, laser cutting services are versatile, varied and very efficient, creating many options but little waste.

Laser Cutting Informational Video