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How Does Laser Cutting Work?

Were you aware that the word, “LASER,” is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation? In the world of manufacturing, lasers are used for cutting acrylic and metal plates. Why use lasers? Lasers have proven to be highly accurate when used on mild steel, stainless steel, acrylic, and aluminum plates. Lasers also provide the following benefits:

  1. Highly accurate cuts
  2. Perfect quality of cuts
  3. Has a very small kerf width
  4. Small heat affect area
  5. Ability to cut intricate shapes and holes

The laser is an intense beam of light made from a single wavelength, or color. Most manufacturers use a CO2 laser, meaning that the wavelength is part of the infra-red light spectrum, making it invisible to the human eye. The beam measures about ¾ inch in diameter while moving from the laser resonator where the beam is created, then through the machine’s beam path. During acrylic laser cutting, the light of the laser is bounced around in different directions using mirrors, or beam benders, before it can focus onto the plate to begin cutting. Once the laser beam is focused, it goes through a hole in the nozzle accompanied by compressed gas, then onto the plate.

How to focus the laser beam

It is imperative that during acrylic laser cutting the focus of the laser is precise, so that the shape of the focus area, and the density of the laser energy, is centered in the nozzle. The laser can be likened to light traveling through a magnifying glass. When a magnifying glass picks up light from the sun, the concentrated energy is focused on a particular spot and can potentially cause a fire. The energy in the laser can be measured at 6 kwatts, making it hot enough to cut through metal.

The high concentration of heat during acrylic laser cutting results in the quick heating, melting, or close to complete vaporization of the material. When it comes to cutting mild steel, the laser beam becomes hot enough to begin the oxy-fuel burning process, causing the laser cutting gas to become pure oxygen, similar to an oxy-fuel torch.

Whether you are cutting acrylic or metal, it is important to get the best tools needed to complete the job. Utilizing a laser is the most efficient method to cut through metal and acrylic during the manufacturing process.

Related Reading

  • How Laser Cutting Works

    Laser cutters are highly advanced pieces of machinery that can cut and design a wide variety of materials; the most popular material used in laser cutting

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