September 25, 2020
Clean edges, high cut quality: The thermal process that melts, burns and evaporates material using a tightly focused beam of light creates precise, burr-free cuts with clean edges for a certain range of thickness. These days, the improvements in beam quality and process monitoring are producing even finer edges.
Speed and efficiency: At 10 meters a minute, the travel speed of laser is several times more than that of traditional cutting technologies, especially when it comes to complex cuts. It can also combine multiple operations in a single step.
High accuracy and precision: As laser beams can cut with high accuracy in the range of +/-0.1 mm, it allows for a more efficient use of material, limiting scrap creation to a minimum.
No contact, no wear and tear: As the laser cutting process involves only a beam coming into contact with the material rather than moving parts, it mean no wear-and-tear issues and less surface blemishing.
Smaller HAZ, lower distortion: The heat affected zone (HAZ) is the area of the material being cut affected by the high heat of thermal cutting. Even though laser cutting is a thermal cutting technique, it has the smallest HAZ amongst all the thermal cutting techniques, which means more reliable parts.
Flexibility and versatility: Laser equipment can not only work with a range of materials and alloys but also be quickly repurposed. In other words, a single laser with the same set-up can be put to use in multiple applications, as all that’s required to work different materials into different forms is to load the schematic and make programming-level changes in parameters such as intensity and output.
Better geometries: Multi-axis laser cutting systems allow for the cutting of challenging geometries. For example, in 5-axis laser cutting, parts can either be stationary or moved by a robot, as the laser cuts a path in 5 axes of motion.
Regardless of all the advantages of laser cutting, it’s fair to consider the downsides too. Perhaps the single biggest disadvantage of laser cutting is the dependence on the skill of the operator who ultimately takes the call on the right parameters for a given production process. The operator will also have a say in the choice of assist gases because when cut quality is enhanced with the use of inert assist gases, notably nitrogen. Bear in mind that the most reliable and economical supply option is on-site generation.