• June 21, 2024
  • Shatou, Changan, Dongguan, CN
Laser Cutting

Laser Cutting: Principles and Advantages of Laser Cutting of Metals

The laser cutting process is the most basic and widely used process in sheet metal manufacturing. Laser cutting of sheet metal is the technology of choice in the industry for performing such work, as it offers many advantages over other methods. In this article, we will describe the basic working principles, advantages, classification and applications of laser cutting.

Principle of Laser Cutting Metal

The principle of laser cutting metal is to use a high-energy laser beam to heat the metal to a high temperature to melt and vaporize it, and then use the high-pressure airflow and the trajectory of the laser beam to cut the metal material into the desired shape and size. It can be divided into two specific processes: absorption and diffusion.

1. Absorption

The laser beam absorbs light energy on the metal surface, allowing the temperature of the metal surface to rise rapidly.

2. Diffusion

As the temperature of the metal surface increases, the ratio of reflected and absorbed laser light energy of the metal changes, which results in an uneven distribution of the metal surface temperature. As the laser beam sweeps through, the metal surface is gradually melted and vaporized, the key is to continuously flow of inert gas to extinguish the melted material, while the transparent inert gas will be increasingly difficult to manipulate the interference caused by the reflection.

Advantages of laser cutting metal

1. High precision

Laser cutting can achieve very high precision, and the accuracy can be controlled within 0.1 mm.

2. Fast

Laser cutting speed is fast, up to tens of meters per minute or more. No contact between laser cutting and material, and there is no frictional effect.

3. Clean

laser cutting process does not produce any dust, or chips, will not damage the surface of the raw material form, and will not produce deformation.

4. Adaptability

Laser cutting technology can cut all types of metals, and will not be limited by curl, shape, etc.

5. Reliability

Laser cutting is highly accurate, repeatable and reliable due to the highly automated production process and programmable logic control system.

6. Economy

Laser-cutting technology can greatly improve production efficiency, reduce waste and labor costs, and thus reduce production costs.

Classification of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting can be divided into four categories: laser vapor cutting, laser melting cutting, laser oxygen cutting, and laser scribing and controlled fracture.

1, Laser vapor cutting

The use of high-energy-density laser beams to heat the workpiece causes a rapid temperature increase that quickly reaches the material’s boiling point. Consequently, the material starts vaporizing, and vapors are formed. These vapors are ejected at a high rate, resulting in the formation of a cut in the material. Laser vapor cutting demands a lot of power and power density, mainly because the material’s heat of vaporization is typically high.

Laser vapor cutting is mostly used for cutting very thin metal materials and non-metallic materials (such as paper, cloth, wood, plastic and rubber, etc.

2, Laser melting cutting

Laser melting cutting involves heating the metal material with a laser until it melts. Non-oxidizing gases (such as Ar, He, N, etc.) are then blown through a coaxial nozzle using the gas pressure to make the liquid metal discharge and form the kerf. Unlike vapor cutting, laser melting cutting does not require the metal to be completely vaporized, meaning it only needs 1/10 of the energy to cut through the material.

Laser melting cutting is mainly used for some materials that are not easy to oxidize or active metal cutting, such as stainless steel, titanium, aluminum and its alloys.

3, Laser oxygen cutting

The laser oxygen cutting principle is similar to oxyacetylene cutting. It uses a laser as a preheating heat source, with oxygen and other active gases used as the cutting gas. When the gas blows out along with the cutting metal, an oxidation reaction occurs, releasing a large amount of oxidizing heat. Additionally, the molten oxides and melted material from the reaction area blow out on the metal to form a kerf.

The oxidation reaction that occurs during the cutting process produces a lot of heat. Therefore, the energy required for laser oxygen cutting is only half that of melting cutting, and the cutting speed is much faster than laser vapor cutting and melting cutting. Laser oxygen cutting is mainly used for easy-to-oxidize metal materials such as carbon steel, titanium steel, and heat-treated steel.

4, laser scribing and fracture control

Laser scribing is a process that utilizes high-energy-density laser scanning on the surface of brittle materials. The material is heated by the evaporation of a small groove. After that, a certain amount of pressure is applied to the material, causing it to crack along the small groove. The lasers that are typically used for this process are Q-switched lasers and CO2 lasers.

Controlled fracture involves the use of the steep temperature distribution generated when the laser scribes the groove. This generates local thermal stresses in the brittle material, leading to the material breaking along the grooves.

Application areas of laser cutting technology

1. Metal material cutting

Laser cutting can be used for cutting various metal materials such as common steel plates, stainless steel, aluminum alloy, etc. It is widely used in various fields such as metal processing, automobile manufacturing, petrochemical equipment, railroad, bridge, etc.

2. Non-metallic material cutting

Laser cutting can be used for various non-metallic materials, such as wood panels, plastics, rubber, paper, etc. It is especially suitable for difficult cutting, such as outdoor billboards, etc.

3. Industrial automation

Laser-cutting technology can be used in combination with robots and automatic production lines to realize industrial automation, improve production efficiency and reduce labor costs.

4. Electronic equipment manufacturing

Laser cutting can be used for sampling and small batch production of printed circuit boards (PCB), as well as precise cutting for manufacturing circuit board graphics and shapes.

5. Medical field

Laser can be used in the manufacture of medical devices and various treatments, such as laser therapy, laser surgery, etc.

Future trends of laser cutting metal

The main future trends of laser cutting metals include the following:

1. Laser power enhancement

With the continuous development of technology, the power of the laser is gradually increasing, there will be more powerful energy for metal cutting, increasing the cutting speed and efficiency.

2. Laser cutting accuracy improvement

With the progress of laser technology and the application of automation technology, the accuracy of laser cutting metal will also become higher and higher. In the future, there may be more accurate laser-cutting metal technology.

3. Laser cutting material range expansion

Laser cutting metal has been widely used now, the future may expand the range of cutting materials, such as cutting metal materials of greater thickness, cutting different kinds of materials, etc.

4. Environmental protection and energy saving

The process of laser cutting metal, waste gas, waste water, slag, etc. will produce pollution, the future of laser cutting metal technology will pay more attention to environmental protection and energy saving, as far as possible to reduce pollution and energy consumption.

5. Intelligent

Future laser-cutting metal technology will be more intelligent, such as the use of artificial intelligence and automation technology to achieve intelligent cutting, automated operation, etc., to improve production efficiency and quality.

Conclusion

The above is an introduction to the principle and advantages of metal laser cutting. Metal laser cutting machine is a kind of machine and equipment that can automatically layout, it can save a lot of materials, and the kerf cut by metal laser cutting is very smooth.

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