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Laser Sheet Metal Cutting

Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past of the sixties and seventies, Lasers (an acronym of “Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation”) were primarily the stuff of science-fiction, or mainly isolated to (what were then) very advanced projects like aerospace manufacturing, medical technology, energy production and experimental technologies.

As time has moved on and better technology has become more affordable, efficient and ubiquitous, Lasers are now a staple of many common industries, most notably sheet metal manufacturing, where it’s now one of the most popular methods in use.

Laser cutting is a process that uses a focused beam on a relatively small area to melt or vaporise the material, and a co-axial jet then removes the molten material, creating a ‘Kerf’ (the width of material that is removed as the laser cuts through the plate).

There are three common types of laser cutting; fusion, flame, and remote cutting. Flame cutting uses oxygen to increase the energy output of the exothermic reaction, creating very high temperatures that assist the mechanical portion of the cutting process.

Fusion cutting, however, uses an inert gas, typically nitrogen, to expel the molten material from the kerf. As nitrogen is does not react exothermically, it doesn’t increase the overall energy as oxygen does.

Remote cutting is different from flame or fusion cutting in that it doesn’t use a gas to assist the cutting process; the material is simply ablated, or evaporated, by the high-intensity beam.

Laser cutting is perfect for use on complex, small-to-medium scale projects when automated with CAD/CAM system, but are equally useful for some large scale sheet metal projects. They are commonly used in conjunction with three-axis flatbed systems or six-axis, robotically assisted systems. There are numerous designs of laser cutting systems, each capable of cutting a wide variety of materials with perfect precision. Here at Lazenby’s, we use the Trumpf Trulaser 3030, which will cut 25mm Mild Steel, 20mm Stainless Steel, 20mm Aluminium, 8mm Brass and 8mm Copper.

 

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