A CNC (computer numeric control) laser cutter uses a beam of light to cut material. Depending on the equipment it can cut sheet metal, wood, glass, or plastics.
The early machines had a beam that was directed through a lens via mirrors. Today, fiber optics the beam burns or melts the material. Typically, laser cutting can be divided into two types: laser fusion cutting and ablative laser cutting.
Laser fusion cutting uses reaction-inhibiting nitrogen or argon as the cutting gas. This process is suitable for thin sheets and in situations where the parts need to look good without further processing, such as grinding. In contrast, ablative laser cutting removes material layer by layer using a pulsed laser—often it does not go all the way through the material and is typically used for thicker material.
Ablative laser cutting can be used to make partial cuts in a material, whereas laser fusion cutting can only be used to cut all the way through it. Bottom line laser fusion cutting is much faster and ablative cutting takes more time.
The two most common types of laser cutting machines are fiber and CO2.
CO2 lasers typically uses a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sometimes hydrogen, xenon or helium to activate the laser. In contrast, fiber lasers uses an optical fiber with rare-earth elements, such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium or dysprosium.
Prior to the invention of the fiber laser, the lower the wattage the lower the cost to operate the laser. That has changed drastically; now fiber optics is three times faster than a conventional laser and can achieve closer tolerance than ever with excellent repeatability.
Because of these key benefits fiber laser technology these machines are found in many more sheet metal facilities. Some machine builders in the industry have indicated that fiber laser machine sales have really outplaced CO2. Yet, there are still many fabricators in the industry that believe there is value of CO2 machines for some parts because fiber laser doesn’t meet all of their customer needs.
Overall, steel laser cutting has revolutionized the sheet metal industry, offering closer tolerance parts and excellent repeatability and why Tampa Sheet Metal saw real value in adding a laser in their shop for their customers needing the highest quality part, along with fast turn around.
Tampa Sheet Metal has Amada FOL 3015 AJ running parts. This 4,000-watt laser can cut steel up to .875 inch thick, stainless up to .700 of an inch thick and aluminum up to .625 of an inch thick. It can also cut copper, brass and titanium.
To learn more about Tampa Sheet Metal Amada Laser visit: http://tampasheetmeta.wpengine.com/fiber-laser-cutting-engrave-parts-machine/
Email Sales@TampaSheetMetal.com for questions and projects