Mild steel is one of the most preferred materials in making frames, fences, grilles, and other metalworks. It’s known for its low cost and high corrosion resistance. Mild steel is also more malleable than traditional steel, making it more appropriate for most engineering applications.
Suppose you plan to work on mild steel in your next metal project. In that case, you may consider knowing about laser cutting mild steel and the possible mistakes that may happen in the process. Knowing some helpful tips on how to successfully perform such tasks could minimize errors. Furthermore, here’s an article to further guide you. So, read on!
1. Material Distortion
Because of its malleability, mild steel may melt and expand at a higher rate when exposed to laser beams. This may result in a low-quality cut. To prevent this from happening, you must use the lowest amperage possible. Yet, you need to ensure that it should be hot enough to penetrate the mild steel.
In addition, you may also use the clamping jigs and backing plates if your platform has these parts. These could help keep the metals in place as you work on them. Furthermore, you may need to do laser cutting to materials with more than .005-inch thickness. You may also think about adding a water-quenching system to the laser-cutting nozzle to reduce the heat effect.
2. Improper Cleaning
Improper cleaning may result in scratches, water spots, and poorly cut edges. This usually happens when laser cutters use inappropriate abrasive cleaners and bleach solutions that could damage the surfaces and edges of the mild steel. Scrubbing the steel too hard before working on it can also damage the material.
Improper cleaning may also result in the appearance of surface contaminants. These may include chalk, grease, and anything in the metal handler’s hands. If ignored, this could lead to localized corrosion.
To avoid these issues, you may need to use only warm water and a clean soft cloth. You may need to scrub the sides and edges before slicing the materials gently. Performing post-care scrubbing can also help remove the laser-cut residue.
3. Light Marking
Light marking may result in an imprecise cut. To avoid this, you may need to choose a color that’d stand out from the portions you’d drill or cut. In most cases, metal workers prefer red because it’s evident. Apart from this, you may also choose other dominant colors that could provide dark and thick markings.
4. Poor Preparation
Setting up the workpiece before working on it is finishing half the job. Handlers often cut the mild steel without scaling the material for the laser bed. They also use the laser cutting machine first to spare metals to see if it’s in good running condition.
To avoid these problems, machinery cleaning and metal preparation are necessary. These steps could include pre-use machine checkup and the scaling of the material to ensure that it’ll fit the laser bed well and that the cut will be smooth and proper.
5. Leaving The Job While The Cutting Is In Progress
Although laser cutting is often automated, hardware malfunctions may still happen. These could lead to poor-quality cuts and even threats to the safety of the metal worker. To avoid such, the worker needs to focus on the workpiece as the work is in progress.
The person assigned to the process should supervise the task until it’s safe to assume that the process has ended. Having a co-worker that could co-supervise or substitute when the primary handler leaves can also be helpful.
6. Removing The Workpiece Too Early
Patience should be every handler’s virtue in working on mild steel. Removing the metal too quickly may result in imprecise cuts, unclean edges, and surface damage. This is often the upshot of removing the mild steel while the cutting is still ongoing. In many cases, moving the workpiece prematurely could affect the alignment, resulting in the mentioned issues.
To avoid this, you may need to take your time or set a prescribed time for your work. In considering time-setting, you may take into account aspects concerning its thickness and dimensions. You may also need to consider the capacity of your laser-cutting machine.
Hopefully, this article will help you make the most of laser cutting mild steel, as well as enlighten you on the mistakes often committed by metal workers, especially newbies. It’s pretty obvious that getting rid of such errors will result in highly precise and top-of-the-line steel cuts.
For more ideas, ask seasoned metal workers about their metal cutting hacks. You may also join various fora and communities to learn more about the usual mild steel laser cutting mistakes and the most effective ways to avoid them.