Why lasers are used for cutting? Lasers are used for many purposes. One way they are used is for cutting metal plates. On mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum plate, the laser cutting process is highly accurate, yields excellent cut quality, has a very small kerf width and small heat affect zone, and makes it possible to cut very intricate shapes and small holes.
Most people already know that the word “LASER” is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. But how does light cut through a steel plate?
How a laser cutter works? The laser beam is a column of very high intensity light, of a single wavelength, or color. In the case of a typical CO2 laser, that wavelength is in the Infra-Red part of the light spectrum, so it is invisible to the human eye. The beam is only about 3/4 of an inch in diameter as it travels from the laser resonator, which creates the beam, through the machine’s beam path. It may be bounced in different directions by a number of mirrors, or “beam benders”, before it is finally focused onto the plate. The focused laser beam goes through the bore of a nozzle right before it hits the plate. Also flowing through that nozzle bore is a compressed gas, such as Oxygen or Nitrogen.
There are many, many other parameters that affect cut quality as well, but when all are controlled properly, laser cutting is a stable, reliable, and very accurate cutting process.
As for Laser welding, it is one of the oldest applications of industrial laser materials processing. In the majority of early applications, lasers produced higher quality welds and allowed for greater productivity. Often times, it was at a lower cost compared to other joining processes, even though the parts being welded were originally designed based on a different joining process.
Much has changed, however, since those early days of laser welding. For starters, the classes of lasers have changed. Laser sources now have higher power, different wavelengths and a wider range of pulsing capability. Accordingly many Accessories for laser machine came into being. Add to this the new developments in beam delivery, machine control hardware and software, process sensors and a better understanding of the laser welding process.