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Fundamentals Of Sheet Metal Laser Cutting

by | Feb 7, 2024

Sheet metal manufacturing is a basic manufacturing technique and is considered a go-to procedure. Laser cutting fabrication involves a high-power beam of light to cut flat and thin sheets of metals. This process is directed by computer numerical control (CNC) laser cutting and optics technology that is responsible for the high precision of laser cut parts.

In today’s modern manufacturing, sheet metal laser cutting has become a revolutionary technology, transforming the way precise cuts and intricate designs are achieved in the fabrication of metal sheets. This process has become synonymous with accuracy and efficiency, playing a critical role in diverse industries like manufacturing operations, aerospace, and automotive industries.

An Overview Of Laser Cutting

Before diving deep into laser cutting, let us understand the overview of the laser cutting machine and the laser cutting process.

Laser Metal Cutting Machine

The laser cutting equipment is a sophisticated device used to harness the power of a focused laser beam. This laser-cutting machine utilizes advanced technologies for delivering accurate and precise cuts in different materials, making them indispensable in contemporary manufacturing processes.

Laser Cutting Process

This process incorporates the usage of high-powered laser beams to cut through different materials. Fiber lasers generate this beam and focus on achieving the desired level of precision. This precise and accurate process is productive, offering a neat and smooth finish and making it specifically suitable for thin materials.

Types Of Lasers For Cutting Sheet Metal Material

Before diving into the cutting sheet metal process, it is necessary to understand the type of lasers and their importance. Each laser cutter holds unique features that differentiate them from one another.

Fiber Lasers

In the realm of fiber laser cutting, fiber lasers have attained prominence for their reliability, precision, speed, versatility, and efficiency. These lasers use optical fibers to amplify and transmit the laser beam, leading to enhanced cutting capabilities. They generate some of the most durable and robust beams and are best suited to materials that are less than 20 mm thick.

CO2 Lasers

CO2 lasers generate light beams by passing energy through a tube containing a gas mixture. The gas combination consists mostly of carbon dioxide and inert gases, specifically helium and nitrogen, which are the most prevalent types used in lasers.

Crystal Lasers

Crystal laser cutters are available in two forms: Nd: YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) and Me: YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho vanadate, YVO4) crystals. Both are extremely powerful cutting machines and can cut coated and uncoated metals, nonmetal polymers, and even ceramics under certain conditions.

Well-established contract manufacturers are adept at sheet metal laser-cutting and provide high-quality laser-cutting services.

Advantages of sheet metal laser cutting

Advantages Of Sheet Metal Laser Cutting

Minimal or No Damage

The parts that are exposed to heat during sheet metal laser cutting have minimal or no damage and possess zero threat to the tolerance of components or features after fabrication.

Maximum Sheet utilization

Laser cutters offer the usage of a maximum percentage of the fabricating materials. This technology holds no space for wastage. The cutting laser-cutting machine maximizes the usable units of any metal sheet.

Highly Precise Cuts

Laser light cuts metals with extreme precision during laser cutting fabrication. The precision and accuracy at which the laser evaporates and melts materials are incomparable to other cutting methods. Few cutting tools have tolerance levels up to 1 to 3mm, while laser cutting machines cut at an accuracy of 0.003 mm.

Low Power Usage

Unlike other cutting equipment, laser cutters do not require the user to move separate sections of the instrument. This allows them to cut off chunks of material while utilizing minimal energy efficiently. While laser cutters can operate on 10kW of energy, other operations can take up to five times as much.

Versatile Cutting Operations

Laser-cutting techniques are extremely flexible and adaptable. A single laser cutter is suitable for a variety of cutting operations, including basic cuts, complex cuts with intricate details, marks, drilling, and engravings. Hence, manufacturers do not need to replace tooling on a regular basis during the process.

Sheet Metal Laser Cutting In Action

Laser cutting sheet metal is a thermal process that uses a laser beam to cut pieces off a metal sheet precisely. Let’s explore the three methods of cutting sheet metal parts.

Laser Beam Fusion

In this process, the focused laser associates with the material, causing it to melt and solidify and forming precise cuts. The fusion process involves minimum wastage of material and offers overall efficiency of the laser cutting technology. The laser process transforms a simple metal sheet into a canvas of precise engineering and intricate designs.

Laser Beam Sublimation

Sublimation cutting involves evaporation of material parts with the help of a laser. Like fusion cutting, inert gases such as argon, helium, or nitrogen act as laser cutters, ensuring the cutting edge does not have oxidants. Despite its slow implementation process, it offers a top-quality edge for high-precision cutting.

Laser Beam Flame Cutting

Flame cutting utilizes oxygen gas to remove the molten material. It causes an exothermic reaction that increases the overall energy input of the processes. The process is best suited for cutting mild steel and ceramic materials.

Important Tips For Laser Cutting Parts

Material Thickness

Thickness is a significant consideration in laser cutting processes. It is directly related to the laser’s power. As a result, the greater the thickness, the more difficult it is for the laser to penetrate and cut the material.

Select the Right Material

The most critical consideration before performing a laser cutting operation is selecting the appropriate material. Choosing a material is determined by the attributes such as stiffness, transparency, and elasticity desired for the finished product.

Spacing Is Important

To eliminate errors and provide the finest possible results, laser cutting requires precise spacing. The minimum gap should equal the material’s thickness. For instance, in sheet metal laser cutting, if the sheet metal is 2 mm thick, the gap between two routes must be 2 mm. It is particularly vital if you want to work on a variety of laser-cut sheet metal designs.

The understanding of the above tips can help to reduce sheet metal fabrication costs. If you want to acquire a service, contact Sheet Metal and Stamped Part Supplier, which specializes in sheet metal laser cutting services.

Conclusion

In conclusion, sheet metal laser cutting has redefined the landscape of modern manufacturing. Through its precision, efficiency, and ability to deal with a variety of materials, it has become a cornerstone technology in industries that demand maximum accuracy. As technology evolves, the boundaries of the possibilities in the realm of fabrication are pushed. The journey from laser beams to molten metal and accurate cuts is a testament to the expanding possibilities that sheet metal laser cutting brings to the forefront of manufacturing innovation.

A Contract Manufacturing company in Chennai is renowned for offering high-quality laser cutting services that are applicable to various industries.

Amulya Sukrutha

Amulya Sukrutha

About the Author

Amulya Sukrutha, passionate computer science engineer specialized in Data science field. I also describe myself as a enthusiastic strength and endurance trainee. I have played professional Tennis during my early years and found my path in Software development and machine learning later. I’m also passionate about creating content, and learning about new technologies.