How Does Laser Cutting Work?

Laser cutting uses a high-powered laser that uses optics and a computer numerical control (CNC) system to direct the beam or material. Typically, this process uses a motion control system that follows a CNC or G-code of the pattern to be cut onto the material. The focused laser beam burns, melts, vaporizes or is blown away by a gas jet to leave a high quality, surface finished edge.

The laser beam is generated by exciting laser materials with electrical discharges or lamps in a closed vessel. The laser material is amplified by reflecting it internally via a partial mirror until its energy is sufficient to emerge as a coherent monochromatic light beam. This light is focused on the work area using mirrors or optical fibers that direct the beam through a lens, thereby amplifying it.

At its narrowest point, a laser beam typically has a diameter of less than 0.32 mm (0.0125 in.), but kerf widths of up to 0.10 mm (0.004 in.) are possible, depending on material thickness.

If the laser cutting process must begin at a location other than the edge of the material, a piercing process is used in which a high-power pulsed laser burns a hole in the material, which takes, for example, 5-15 seconds to cut through a 13-mm-thick stainless steel sheet.

What types of laser processing are available?

This process can be divided into three main technologies: CO2 lasers (for cutting, drilling and engraving), neodymium (Nd) and neodymium yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG), the same style Nd for high energy, low repetition drilling and Nd:YAG for very high power drilling and engraving.

CO2 lasers are commonly used either by passing an electric current through a gas mixture (DC excitation) or, more recently, by using radiofrequency energy (RF excitation). the RF method uses an external electrode, which means that problems such as electrode erosion and plating of electrode material on glassware and optical components, as in the DC method that uses electrodes inside a resonator, are not as common. This can be avoided.

Another factor affecting laser performance is the type of gas flow; CO2 lasers are available in fast axial flow, slow axial flow, transverse flow, and slab. High-speed axial flow uses a mixture of carbon dioxide, helium, and nitrogen gases circulated at high speed by a turbine or blower. Transverse flow lasers use a simple blower to circulate the gas mixture at low speed, while slab or diffusion resonators use a static gas field that does not require pressurization or glassware.

More on this topic

Laser cutting is a technology that has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in the manufacturing and engineering industries. But what exactly is laser cutting, and how does it work? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the basics of laser cutting and explain how this technology can be used to create everything from car parts to artwork. Laser cutting works by using a high-powered laser to melt, burn, or vaporize materials. The laser beam is focused onto the material by mirrors, and the material is slowly moved through the beam so that the entire cut is made. Lasers can cut through a variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and glass.

One of the biggest advantages of laser cutting is that it is a very precise technology. Lasers can cut extremely intricate shapes, and the cuts are always clean and smooth. This makes laser cutting ideal for applications where precision is critical, such as in the medical or aerospace industries. Another advantage of laser cutting is that it is a relatively fast process. Once the initial set-up is complete, a laser cutter can usually operate quite quickly, making it an efficient option for large-scale production runs.

Of course, like any technology, laser cutting has its limitations. One of the biggest challenges with laser cutting is dealing with reflective materials, such as aluminum or stainless steel. These materials can reflect the laser beam back towards the machine, which can damage the optics or even start a fire. To prevent this, reflective materials must be coated with a material that absorbs the laser light. Despite these challenges, laser cutting is a versatile and powerful technology that can be used to create a wide range of products. So, whether you need to cut metal parts for an airplane or create a custom-designed piece of art, laser cutting is likely to be the right solution for your needs.