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How does laser cutting work



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How does laser cutting work?
Laser cutting is an essential technique in sheet metal fabrication. Its precision and versatility are necessary for complex projects.
Laser cutting, which is a thermal based non-contact process, is one of the widely established processes to cut or engrave a wide range of materials such as metals, plastic and wood, among others. The technique is one of the fastest cutting process available that assures a high degree of precision and accuracy without causing deterioration on your material. Laser cutting allows creating complex geometrical shapes, small holes, and beveled parts without generating heat compared to other thermal cutting processes. This non-contact process is highly accurate, yields excellent cut quality, with a reduced chance of material warpage. Although a widely popular technique, most of us are not aware of the working of laser cutting. The laser cutting processes will be described step by step as below.
Steps Involved in Laser Cutting
Laser cutting works by focusing a laser beam on to a workpiece. The following steps will help you understand the process better.
1. First and foremost, it is extremely important to use the right type of laser cutting machine to get the job done as several models are available in the market. Consider the power consumption, cutting speed and other proven features and specifications before deciding on a model.
2. Prepare the material to be cut, it can be wood, plastic, cardboard, foam, fabric, and thin sheets of metal.
3. Choose an image to be cut or engrave on to your workpiece and upload the same to the software (commonly used are Adobe Illustrator and CoreIDRAW) compatible with the machine. The image can be a photo, a computer drawing, or a computer text.
4. Match the dimensions of the image with that of the material to be cut. This is one of the crucial steps as a minor flaw can lead to improper cutting or engraving.
5. Now, place the material to be cut on a perforated table inside the laser cabinet. Again, the step is crucial as the right placement determines the cut quality.
6. Clean the lens of the machine gently using a cotton wool before each cutting process.
7. Now that the material to be cut is in the right position. The next step is setting the lens height as this helps focus the laser at the correct level. Some machines are equipped with an automatic lens height sensor or button. If your machine doesn’t have this option, you may manually adjust the height to the required position.
8. In every laser cutting machine, there is a button named fume extractor. You must turn this switch ON as it plays a major role in extracting the fumes released during the cutting procedure.
9. Now it’s the time for print setting. There will be an option for material setting in the laser machine. Feed the type of material you are about to cut. This helps the machine to adjust the laser intensity according to the type of material being cut. For example, the machine applies pressure intensely while cutting metal than when cutting wood or foam.
10. Choose the type of cutting you prefer, you may choose vector print and raster.
Like splits, an advanced simulation software is needed to cost effectively solve a springback defect.
11. Once calibrated, the machine makes the initial cut, which can be checked and analyzed by the operator for the cut quality and for other specifications. Ensure not to move the material during the cutting process. Once the cutting is completed in par with the parameters set, the workpiece can be taken off the machine.
At the end of these steps, you will get the material with improved edge quality and surface finish. However, to get the expected quality and precise cutting/engraving, it is important to choose the right laser cutting machine, as mentioned earlier, to facilitate accurate and intricate work.
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