Laser cutting technology uses a laser to precisely cut materials into the desired shape. The application of this technology is mainly industrial or used in educational institutions, small businesses etc.
Industries such as electronics, medicine, aerospace, automotive, and semiconductors widely use laser cutting technology for cutting different metal types with clean cuts, they are also used for cutting ceramics, silicon, and other non-metals such as paper, cardboards, glass and more.
A Laser cutter consists of a laser beam with a diameter between 0.1 and 0.3 mm and a power of between 1 to 3 kW. Factors such as power and speed need to be set and adjusted to achieve a desirable cut for instance power of up to 6 kW is needed to cut reflective materials such as aluminium. However, this technology is not suitable for metals like aluminium and copper alloys because they have excellent heat-conductive and light-reflective properties hence, they will need powerful lasers. The laser cutter consists of the following component; The laser Resonator, the Cutting Head and Nozzle Distance. The Laser resonator is where the beam emanates which is an airtight glass with two mirrors that face each other and the tube has CO2, hydrogen, nitrogen, and helium-filled up which are activated by an electric discharge that emits energy in the form of light. The cutting head receives the light which bounces in various direction with the help of mirrors placed strategically. The next step is that the beam gets passed on through a curved lens, magnified and focused through a nozzle before hitting the plate, with compressed gas like nitrogen or oxygen and is aimed at the single point on the laser cutting piece. The space between the plate and the nozzle is crucial for determining the focal point and it affects the quality of the cut. Variable such as intensity and speed also contribute to the cut quality.
Flame/Reactive cutting uses oxygen which is blown into the kerf at a high pressure the oxygen reacts with the heated material to burn.
Fusion Cutting/Melt and Blow: uses inert gas such as nitrogen to blow molten material out of the kerf and this way reducing the power required normally for the cut
Remote Cutting uses a high-intensity laser beam which partially evaporates the material making it easy for the thin sheet to be laser cut without gas
How deep the laser cutter goes into the material determine whether it’s cutting or engraving the material.Laser marking result in discolouring of the surface of the material being lasered, while laser engraving and etching remove a portion of the material.
Acrylic material is a form of glass and has a wide range of applications form, including signage, product design, interior design and more. Acrylic as a laser cut material has the following great qualities light up when exposed to LED lights is quite resistant to crazing and or cracking When cutting, Acrylic is not subject to any deformation and its smooth surface allows for a perfect cut to be easily achieved It can be painted on, glued, lit up, it is also a BPA-free material that is also weatherproof and can be used in kitchens, bathrooms Post-processing for Acrylic laser cut or laser engraved parts is by cleaning with mild soap and lukewarm water mixture clean soft cloth without the use of cleaning sprays. The acrylic sheet comes in varieties of thickness from 1mm, 3mm,5mm up to 10mm.
The use of plywood is common in art and craft to practice as the cut is dustless and precise and it doe not requires post-processing. Despite the slight oxidation (browning) of the cutting edges even gives the object a certain aesthetic. The thickness of plywood varies from 2mm, 3mm, and 5mm Poplar, Okoumé and Ceiba Wood are the popular types of plywood.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF)is manufactured by breaking down hardwood or softwood residual into wood fibres which are then is mixed with resin and wax followed by compressing them into the panel using high temperature and pressure. During the process of laser cutting, a high-powered laser is used to cut out a design from a piece of material. This laser has its width, which leads to the laser itself displacing some of the design. The amount of material that is burned away is known as the kerf in laser cutting. hence kerf sizes for MDF in the function of the thickness range for example 2mm thickness has kerf size of 0.2mm, 3mm has 0.08 k,6mm has 0.145k.
Carboards can be used for many other purposes than packaging such as furniture and structures. Laser cutting cardboards enables digital printing, packaging prototypes manufacture, modelization (shapes, drawings), scrapbooking and it also allows direct printing such as silkscreen printing, offset printing, flexography, heliogravure, lamination as compared to other materials. The thickness ranges from 0.7mm, 1mm, 2mm,2.8mm and 6,7mm ect with a kerf size of 0.075mm. There are corrugated Grey and cellulose type of cardboards available.
POM (Polyoxymethylene) or Acetal or Delrin is an engineering thermoplastic, with mechanical properties of being resistant with dimensional stability. POM has a smooth glass-like shiny surface with a moderately opaque white colour. Designed intentionally for technical properties such as internal technical parts.Thickness ranges from 2mm, 3mm, to 5mm with kerf sizes of 0.07mm, 0.12mm, 0.105mm .
Laser cutting has specific guidelines during the duration of its use The design scale has to match the specification of the cutter as well as the technical requirement of the machine because wrong file conversion might lead to loss of detail or imperfections. The user has to be aware of the maximum and minimum laser cutting size and set accordingly as the size of your design is limited by the dimensions of the laser machine cutting table for instance if the size is 1100 x 1100 mm, it cant cut, engrave anything beyond that scale.
The details shall always be smaller than the material thickness for instance if a hole is want to be made, its diameter should be larger than the thickness of the material.
The minimum distance between lines or parts must be 2x the material thickness
the design has to have a connecting piece as the law of physics always applies, when you cut out a piece of metal, it is going to fall off.
Ensure there are not many intersecting lines as the design will fall apart or become fragile when you have many lines intersecting at the same point. hence zoom into the detail and make sure the intersection is there where needed.
Be Cautious for bend reliefs because Improper bend reliefs do not result in a good cut straight off the laser.
When the design is ready it has to be loaded on the machine, the laser cutting head will following the directions of the vector file that holds the design to cut away at the material until the shape/pattern is done.
Yield High precision and accuracy results.
Characterized with high production speed.
Cheaper compared to other CNC machines.
Offers a variety of material compatibility.
Have Narrower kerf widths.
Require high energy consumption.
May put forth a risk of toxic emissions released from plastics.
Thicker materials can be challenging to cut.
May run a risk of having burnt edges at cuts.