Metal Laser Cutting Machine

Laser cutting technology for metals has been around for over 50 years, but its increasing use in industrial processes makes it more important than ever. This non-contact process uses a constant beam of light to generate heat and pressure and then precisely deforms various materials as the cutting head moves on the surface of the material.

A metal laser cutting machine as a variety of functions including  (surprise) laser cutting, drilling, and engraving functions that depend on the intensity of the laser, the main component materials used to create the laser beam, and the materials used. Metal laser cutting is one of the most important processes for manufacturing sheet components. Each laser provides a continuous wavelength that can serve multiple purposes. Generally speaking, there are three basic types of lasers: CO2 lasers, fiber lasers, and vanadate crystal lasers.

Types of Laser Cutting Machines

Fiber Laser

The power of a fiber laser for metal laser cutting machines is many times higher than that of a carbon dioxide laser. This means that like CO2 lasers, they can cause burns and blindness, but indirect exposure to lasers can also cause injury. Make sure you wear the correct safety equipment and use appropriate laser protection shields.

When using this kind of metal laser cutting machine, some important things are safety glasses that are appropriate for the frequency of the laser. It is also recommended that gloves be worn when adjusting components in the machine to avoid leaving oil or other residues. A well-ventilated area is important as the laser can emit toxic or even toxic fumes. Always use a class ABC fire extinguisher that can handle trash, liquids, and electrical fires.

CO2 Laser

To cut metal, these metal laser cutting machines must have a power rating of at least 150W and use oxygen assistance. Without proper safety precautions, the laser on its own can cause cuts, burns, and instant blindness. Due to the additional effect of oxygen, the gas storage tank can burn or explode if improperly handled. Always ensure the safe use and storage of flammable gases.

Vanadate Crystal Laser

Vanadate crystal lasers can be divided into Nd: YAG which stands for neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, and ND: YVO, meaning neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate. These devices have extremely high cutting capabilities. The disadvantage of these machines is that not only can they be expensive because of their initial price, but also because their life expectancy is 8,000 to 15,000 hours. Nd: YAG laser is a solid-state laser that uses neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet crystal as the laser medium. It is light pumped by a lamp or diode and the most common 1064 nm infrared light is emitted. Pulsed YAG lasers are typically Q-switched to produce high-intensity pulses that can be doubled to emit 532 nm light. These types of laser cutting machines are not usually used as metal laser cutting machines but are most common in the medical industry.

Metal Laser Cutting Machine - CO2 or Fiber?

Two types of metal laser cutting machine types mentioned earlier currently dominate the entire industrial market: traditional CO2 gas lasers and newer solid-state fiber lasers. For the past two decades, CO2 lasers have been the main force in the metal industry. These lasers work by passing a current through a gas-filled resonator and using mirrors to focus and transmit the beam. Fiber lasers use arrays of diodes to create lasers that are passed through optical cables and amplified, similar to those used in the telecommunications industry. Fiber lasers have lower operating costs and higher cutting speeds than CO2 lasers. 

In the past, fiber technology could only cut thinner materials at these higher speeds, but with the advent of higher-powered lasers, fiber lasers showed stronger cutting speeds. Although fiber laser cutting machines for metal processing are relatively expensive, they are becoming more and more popular. Fiber technology can also open up new opportunities for manufacturers. These machines can cut reflective materials like brass and copper, which are difficult to use with carbon dioxide lasers. 

Certain applications are even better suited for CO2 metal laser cutting machines, e.g. applications that require good edge quality on thicker or special materials. Additionally, some manufacturers may be satisfied with CO2 technology because they have been using it for several years and the company has expertise in internal maintenance.

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