During many manufacturing processes, it is required to cut metal, wood, glass, and other hard materials into intricate and definite shapes, so that they can be properly utilized to form the required items. Traditionally, such cutting has always been carried out through the use of knives, saws, shears and other blades. Modernisation led to the use of spinning and reciprocating blades to take away the drudgery of these cutting operations. Technology further developed to use beams of concentrated light, called lasers, to make any cutting operation easy and accurate.
Laser cutting is a process that is more efficient than the mechanical cutting and tooling, and even costs less, reduces wastage and is more accurate. Most laser cutting operations are controlled by software and this digital control allows for a vast number of cutting paths and patterns that can be easily changed, something that is not easy to do on other mechanical machines like saws or lathes.
A laser cuts the material by melting and burning it and the vaporization of this material leaves edges that are clean and sharp. A laser has been used to cut plastics, paper, and paperboards, textiles, abrasives, and photovoltaics, besides metals, wood, and glass.
Laser beams are the result of the stimulation of lasing material, often CO2 with the use of lamps or electrical discharges. The stimulating material is then reflected off a mirror till it has enough energy to escape as a beam of light that becomes visible. This visible light is then focused as a beam through the use of a lens. The beam needs to first pierce the material to be cut before it can start the cutting operation. The rotation of the beam polarization helps to maintain a smooth edge during cutting.
Laser beams use two methods, which are vaporization or melting and blowing the material. In vaporization, the heat brings the surface of the material to a boiling point and creates a hole. The hole becomes deeper as the vaporization erodes the edges or walls of the hole. This method is largely in use for materials that do not melt, such as thermoset plastics, carbon, and wood. In the second method of melt and blow, the melted part requires being blown away by a jet of gas. You will find this method of laser cutting used where metals need to be cut.
Laser cutting is a technique that is in use in all major technologically advanced countries and you will find it being extensively used in Melbourne, Australia. It has many advantages that make it superior to mechanical cutting. It requires less labour and this advantage has an ability to reduce costs. Laser cuts are more precise, and there is no wearing out of the cutting edges as you will find in knives, saws, or blades.
The cut material will also never bend or warp, an action that some mechanical cutting will induce due to pressure or heat. Laser cutting concentrates energy at a spot and allows the energy to be applied directly where it is needed. In mechanical cutting, the cutting action produces a heat zone, which can affect the material being cut.
The power required for laser cutting can depend on the material to be cut. Thin materials that are not metallic will require an average power of 150 watts, with a peak power of 450 watts. Thicker materials (non-metal) will require up to 500 watts with a peak power of 1500 watts.
The laser cutting of metals require lasers of high power that can go up to 1000 watts and may require peak power of 2500 watts. Where thin metal sheets are required to be cut you can use 150-watt lasers along with oxygen gas to assist in the cutting.
Melbourne entrepreneurs who need to work with plastics, paper, cardboard, wood, metal, glass and even leather prefer to use laser cutting as it leads to work that is very precise. Once a pattern is programmed into a laser cutter, you will get exact copies of the pattern for any number of repetitions, without any need to change tools.
The edges of laser cut items are clean and do not require any further finishing. Patterns can be highly detailed and the quality of work produced will always be of a high standard.