29th March 2019 Blog

The manufacturing and production processes around the world have been developing and innovating at an increasingly rapid rate. Metal fabricators required a safer, more efficient and reliable process over the conventional forms of sheet metal cutting being used, that would rise in line with the growing demand faced by the manufacturing and production industry.

Laser cutting solved previous issues faced with manual cutting and gave the ability to work faster, more precisely and for longer periods of time whilst still delivering high-quality products. Common industries now making use of laser cutting services include automotive, aerospace, electronics, semiconductors and medical.

What is CNC laser cutting?

Laser cutting works with the use of CAD files, it is a precise method of cutting a design from a given material. It involves firing a laser which then cuts the material using melting, burning or vaporising processes. Laser cutting has many benefits over conventional cutting methods. Due to this, Alpha Manufacturing delivers high precision sheet metal laser cutting services using the latest technologies, including CO2 and fibre laser machines.

Why choose laser cutting?

Versatility

Laser cutting services provide excellent versatility for all sheet metal cutting requirements.

  • The beam is able to fulfil any design specification, from small and delicate to larger more complex creations.
  • A variety of flat, tubed and profiled materials can be cut using laser power such as mild steel, aluminium, coated steels, wood, stainless steels and plastics.
  • One laser can be used for multiple applications. The beams heat output, intensity and duration can all be controlled, which allows it to cut in different ways and work better with different materials. This way, it can also be used for multiple services such as engraving, marking and drilling.

Precision

Laser cutting technologies are highly focusable to about 25 microns, which is about 1/4 of the width of a strand of human hair, it has a positioning accuracy of 10 micrometres and repeatability of 5 micrometres. This makes it feasible to remove the minimum amount of material to make the cut, aiding precision and accuracy.

In laser cutting, the optic is fed compressed air via a jet system with a variety of nozzle widths available. This affects the cutting process by constantly expelling the evaporated material and residues making for a better cutting quality and keeping the focus optic free of dust. In conventional processes, the heat generated while cutting can cause damage to the material such as warping. Another advantage of high power laser cutting is that the area subjected to heat is very small, which reduces the risk of damage to the material. It also helps avoid costly repair and maintenance schedules for moving parts that contact the work surface.

A laser cutting machine gives highly accurate cuts that leave a clean and smooth finish. Traditional cutting services can only offer cutting lines as thin as the smallest diameter cutter, whereas the laser beam can be programmed to hundredths of a millimetre.

CNC laser cutting tolerances

CO2 lasers use a gas mixture and have an exceptionally high voltage, giving a powerful solution to sheet metal fabrication. Laser cutters offer minimal thermal input, with fine control over work area temperature. This is important since small parts heat up quickly and might otherwise overheat and deform.

Alpha Manufacturing uses the latest in laser technology, including fibre laser cutters. Fibre laser light is created by banks of diodes. The light is channelled and amplified through fibre optic cable similar to that used for data transfer. These can cut mild steel up to 25mm, stainless steel up to 20mm and aluminium up to 12mm.

Other benefits of laser cutting services include:

  • Safety
    • Laser cutting is a much safer method than other cutting processes as the beam that is being used is sealed in a tight lightbox. There are no open moving parts that could cause accidents
  • Speed
    • Laser cutting services are achieved quickly and precisely. Laser technology is faster than more traditional techniques and has less post-processing, ensuring a quick turnaround.