The word laser is used as a common name, but it is an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The highly concentrated beam of light it produces can quickly apply energy even to a minute area. It can be easily controlled by mirrors and lenses and essentially as light. It can travel at the highest speed possible, can travel in a straight line in space, and can transmit information.
With these properties of laser light, the laser has found numerous uses; among them is in cutting. A laser cutter works by focusing the huge amount of energy it produces on a small area (even microscopic). The constant beam of light that hits the area causes it to melt or evaporate. A cut is generated by moving the object being cut or by moving the laser beam across the surface.
As a tool in cutting, a laser metal cutting machine has several applications. Some of its well-known applications are in medicine as a surgical tool, in craft-making and lithography as an etching tool, in the garment industry as a fabric cutter, and in metal fabrication as a welding and cutting tool.
Laser cutting of metals is the most common and most beneficial industrial application. Using a laser metal cutter, metals with complex profiles and contours can be easily and seamlessly cut. Its high-quality cutting capability and fast cutting speeds eliminate further processing of metals, reduce production costs, and improve the productivity of certain companies using the technology.
The advancements in laser cutting machines, which includes enhancement of the beam quality, laser power, ease of use and operation, and material, made it possible for a laser cutting machine to cut metals with multi-dimensions and tubular profiles. Highly advanced laser cutting machines with this capability are quite helpful in the automotive industry.
Among the laser cutting machines used in cutting metals are flying-optic lasers, hybrid lasers, punch-laser machines, pivot-beam lasers, and pulsed lasers. Flying-optic laser cutting machines have high cutting speeds yet they are less expensive because of their fixed X and Y axis table. They can move over the material being cut in two dimensions. A more efficient and powerful pivot-beam laser on the other has X-axis travel capability.
Punch-laser machines are high-power lasers that can cut metals with up to 3,500 watts. They perform several tasks including punching, marking, contouring, and bending. They are mostly used to cut outer parts and intricate inner contours. Pulsed laser machines on the other hand produce high power output for short period. They are ideal for piercing because of their ability to produce high power output in a short time.
Laser Cutting Machines in High Tech Environments
In today's high-tech, often dust-free manufacturing environment, the metal cutting machine brings with it new challenges. For instance, consider the problems of making ultra-precision cuts in hardened alloys on a multi-million-dollar satellite, where even one speck of dust in the wrong place can lead to total disaster.
Low Tech Applications
Laser cutting machines are also being used today in surprisingly low-tech applications as well. For instance, consider the problems in textile manufacturing. Laser cutting machines are now able to replace older more dangerous cutting devices and they can also cut through much deeper stacks of fabric.
Laser Cutters for Artists and Designers
Even artists and creative designers are now using laser cutting machines to cut materials such as wood for purely decorative purposes. You see, laser cutting machines produce far cleaner cuts and can easily cut objects of just about any shape.
Difficult to Cut Shapes
For instance, consider the problem that an artist faced in the past who wanted to cut a wooden ball in half. Not only did he or she have to figure out how to do it but it had to be done perfectly. With a laser cutting machine, a beam is simply aimed at the wooden ball as it sits loosely on the cutting table and it's as simple as that.