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Cutting Metal With Lasers

EDI LaserLaser light may be used to cut and score a wide variety of materials. With a laser cutting machine like this, paper and plastic can easily be scored and cut very precisely. Even plywood up to 1/4" thick can be cut on this small machine. Larger industrial machines can cut metal as well. Typically the plotting rate and power of the laser are modulated to select various levels of scoring and cutting.

EDI LaserScoring and multiple cutting layers are indicated by labeling the layers 1S, 2C and 3C in the input DXF file. The lines to be scored are given by the layer labeled 1S. All scoring is done before cutting is started. The width of the cuts and scores is approximately 0.009" on this machine.

EDI LaserAny number of cutting layers are given by layers 2C, 3C, etc. These are cut in numerical order. Multiple cut passes are needed for parts that have holes in them. First the holes are cut, then the shape of the piece is cut. This avoids problems that may occur due to parts shifting after being cut. A sample DXF file is given here for your perusal.

EDI LaserThe greatest use of industrial laser systems is in metal cutting, primarily two axes profiling of sheet goods that might otherwise have been blanked out by punch press, or fabricated by hand after laborious layout of the pattern. Currently most metal cutting falls within 0.375 inch and thinner, although C02 lasers now have the capability of being competitive with plasma arc cutting metals 0.500 inches and greater. The principal limiting factor to widespread use of laser metal cutting is manufacturing methodology. Laser cutting is ideal for batch processes, just-in-time, or low to medium volume production. Most laser cutting work is performed on generic or multipurpose material handling industrial laser systems, as opposed to dedicated automation controlled industrial systems.

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Some content on this page excerpted from the article:
The Laser Cutting Machine
By: Paul Haeberli, Nov 1996