When to Use Laser Cutting for Your Manufacturing Needs: 5 Tips to Know

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A laser cutter, as the name suggests, is a tool that uses a laser beam ( a narrow and powerful beam) to cut various materials and create different designs. Since cutting with a laser beam is a convenient means of cutting and designing a variety of materials like ceramic, paper, cardboard, and acrylic, it has applications in multiple industries.

Today laser cutting service is not restricted to small or medium-scale manufacturing units; they are used in school and college projects and by people who pursue designing as a hobby. The laser beam generated to cut material is controlled by CNC, also known as computer numerical control.

What All Should You Know Before You Start Using A Laser Cutting Machine

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The Kind Of Material That You Can Cut With These Cutting Machines

It is true that a laser beam is very strong, but that does not mean it works well with all kinds of materials. So if you are working with acrylic, paper, or ceramic, you can use these machines to cut and design the material as you want.

However, if you are using PVC (polyvinyl chloride), you should try to use an alternative cutting machine. This is because when used on PVC, the laser machine produces toxic fumes and strong acids like hydrochloric acid. So you must avoid shaping and trimming PVC using a laser beam.

Again polycarbonate, which is an ordinary plastic that is used frequently in regular life, is a bad choice for laser beam-based trimming and shaping. This is because, with polycarbonate, there is always a risk of producing toxic cyanide fumes.

So if you wish to ensure the safety of the people who work for you, then you must educate them about the materials that they should avoid when using a particular tool.

The Method Used To Generate The Strong Light Arc

Primarily there are two methods that are useful for generating a strong light arc (laser). Some equipment have a carbon dioxide mix which helps generate electricity which in turn produces the light arc. These are the ones that are commonly seen in industries. The carbon dioxide is usually passed through electricity, but in some cases, radio frequency can also be used to generate the arc.

Carbon dioxide-based laser cutters are cost-effective and also easy to handle. They are great if you wish to trim and shape materials like wood, cardboard, leather, acrylic glass, regular glass, and some forms of plastic as well.

Carbon dioxide-based machines can be used for boring and engraving as well. So if you want to engrave a small wooden slab for making a decorative piece, carbon dioxide-based equipment is what you need.

Apart from using carbon dioxide, using neodymium doped crystals is another way of producing strong and focused light arcs. Neodymium is a member of the lanthanide series, and it is considered to be a rare earth element. If you wish to trim and shape materials like metals, plastic or ceramic, it is best to use a neodymium doped crystal to generate a strong light beam.

Both the above methods, which are carbon dioxide mix and neodymium doped crystal, can be used for welding purposes as well.

The Need For Higher Productivity Necessitates The Use Of Fiber Laser Cutters

Source: thefabricator.com

It is true that carbon dioxide-based and neodymium doped crystal light beam generators are useful for a wide range of materials. However, if achieving high productivity is your primary concern, you must go for fiber cutting. In the case of fiber-based machines, the processing times are rapid, and the consumption of electricity is also within reasonable limits.

Also, with fiber cutters, the cost of maintaining the equipment is minimal. So if you are starting out in a small-scale industry, then fiber-based devices are your best bet as they ensure high productivity at minimum operational cost.

The Method Used For Cutting Using The Light Beam

There are several methods for generating the light beam; similarly, there are several ways in which the light generated can be applied for trimming and shaping materials.

Vaporization-based methods are based on the principle that when intense heat is applied to a material, it vaporizes and creates a small hole in the material. This hole is then expanded and deepened as more and more of the material melts.

Cracking a material by using thermal stress is another way in light a strong, focused light beam can be used for trimming and shaping. So if the material that you are working on is naturally brittle (has a tendency to break or develop cracks), then thermal stress generated by a light beam is the most suitable method for shaping the material.

So you must not only know when to use laser beams, but you must also know the particular fracturing technique that you must use based on the material that you are working on.

Use Light Beam Based Cutting Only If You Have All The Safety Equipment

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Focussed light beams are great for shaping material and creating new designs. However, you should know when to stop using light-based cutting equipment.

If any of the safety features have been disabled by mistake or if you do not have your PPE personal protective equipment you should refrain from using the laser beam-based machines. Again, you should never start using the equipment unless it is absolutely clean, to begin with.

If any debris is leftover from the previous rounds of usage, then the machine needs to be cleaned properly before it is used again. Also, if the exhaust system or the air filtration system is not working optimally, then too you should refrain from using laser-based machines.

Conclusion

Using the energy of a concentrated beam of light to trim and shape varied materials is a highly useful technology. However, before using such machines, you must research extensively so that you know which sort of cutting technique to use for which material. Also, you must read about all the safety precautions to avoid any accidental damage.