Accubeam offers contract laser cutting, marking, and engraving services to multiple industries, including aerospace, marine, medical, transportation, promotional products, and more. With over 20 years of industry experience, we provide quality laser cutting services in-house from our Sarasota facility. With our diverse laser capabilities, we can cut, engrave, and mark a wide range of materials for various applications.
What Is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is a computer numerical control (CNC) process that uses a high-energy laser to cut through materials. An optical arrangement and computer system translate the G-codes into the pattern to be cut by the laser. After a cut is made, the machine blows the molten waste material out of the cut, making it more precise and clean. Laser cutting steel and other metals is quick and precise for high-volume, high-precision projects.
The Laser Cutting Process
The first step of the laser cutting process is machine setup. Access to a good laser cutter and computer systems are essential to perform the job successfully. Then, prepare the design in CAD or related software that will translate the design into G-codes. After finalizing the design, the optimal parameters are set to ensure the laser efficiently cuts through the type of material required. Finally, it is time to begin the laser cutting process.
The laser beam is focused to hit the workpiece’s surface at specified locations. When the beam strikes the surface, the material absorbs the laser energy and converts it to heat energy. The heat energy created increases the material’s temperature to melt and vaporize it at the locations struck by the laser beam. The three different cutting processes used are based on the type of auxiliary gas used:
- Fusion Cutting: This process uses nitrogen as the auxiliary gas and is often used for cutting aluminum and stainless steel.
- Flame Cutting: This laser cutting method uses oxygen as the auxiliary gas and is best for cutting mild steel, carbon steel, and other hard metals.
- Sublimation Cutting: This method doesn’t require an auxiliary gas and is ideal for cutting thin sheets of metals, wood, plastics, and other softer materials.
Types of Lasers
The different types of lasers used in cutters vary based on the source of light used, and the most commonly used lasers are listed below.
These lasers use a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in a glass tube to improve the efficacy of light lasers. A strong electric current passes through the tube to excite the gases’ atoms via extreme pressure to produce a laser beam. The laser beam bounces within the laser machine’s mirrors to the focus lens to perform the cut.
Standing for yttrium-aluminum-garnet, YAG is a solid-state laser using yttrium-aluminum-garnet crystal as the active medium. An electrical current or other external energy source stimulates the crystal’s electrons to produce the laser. The two reflecting mirrors at each end of the YAG laser rod produce the photon beam used for laser cutting.
These lasers use active optic fiber transmitted through the cutting machine’s cutting head to engrave or cut thin materials. Fiber lasers are known for their electrical efficiency and low operating costs. Commonly used for laser engraving projects, they can cut thin metals after several passes.
Laser Cutting vs. Engraving vs. Marking
While the terms laser cutting, engraving, and marking are often used interchangeably, there are differences. Laser cutting is when a material is separated from itself in designated areas. Laser engraving refers to adding part information to the material’s surface, creating noticeable penetration into the part but keeping it intact. Laser marking is the least invasive to the material’s surface, placing legible part information on the surface with little or no penetration. It may only change the coloring of the surface of the material. A single laser can perform any of these tasks with a setting change in the laser cutting software.
Applications of Laser Cutting
Today, laser cutters are useful in almost every industry. Common applications for laser cutting include:
Laser Cutting Services From Accubeam
Professional laser cutting is essential for the quality, precise cuts that industries like the aerospace and automotive markets depend on daily. At Accubeam, we provide expert laser cutting services to a wide variety of industries. Call us today at 941-371-2104 or contact us online to learn more about our laser cutting capabilities. Request a quote to start your laser cutting project.