Moving the Boundaries of Material Production: 3 Greatest Challenges Faced by the Laser Cutting Industry

Lasers may not be the answer for every application, but they can aid to an efficient and repeatable material use as well as flexibility.

One of the pros of lasers is that they require minimal contact as opposed to other conventional processes like punching and stamping.

With a cut width of .010 inch, lasers are suitable for small-radius cutting. The small cutting helps with minimizing material waste.

Besides, materials can be heat treated after the kerfing without the noise that’s caused as a result of reforming and grinding. Below are the three greatest challenges faced by the laser cutting industry:

1. Setup Time

The setup time of laser can be prolonged, especially when cutting unfamiliar materials. Gas pressure, speed, nozzle size, assist gas, focal length, optical focal length, and power can affect the process.

These guidelines are so vital to the process such that if they are not given attention, the material won’t be cut. However, when everything is done correctly, the cutting process can be several times faster than other methods of cutting.

There are several ways in which the setup time can be reduced and to keep accurate records is no exception. Having a substantial database of known specifications, materials and conditions will help in saving the setup time.

Requirements for the heat-affected zone, surface finish or flatness can significantly change the framework. In short, parameters are scenic for similar materials in most cases.

You can reduce the setup time by making similar tasks to run at the same time, using shuttle tables, building ergonomic workstations, and keeping the materials next to the cutting area.

You can also increase efficiency when you use delivery optics, which you can always change to do away with the alignment and indicating processes.

2. Drilling

Even though drilling starting holes may be way faster using a laser, but what you don’t know is that it isn’t safe as compared with other methods. It’s a fact that lasers can drills holes in a shorter time, but there are high chances that a blowout can happen during the custom laser drilling process which is dangerous. Usually, blowouts occur because the hole diameter is smaller than the thickness of the material.

Besides, it is advisable that you don’t use a continuous-wave laser when piercing a metal because there’s a high probability that it will lead to a blowout. Usually, you’re advised that you change the parameters so that the process of piercing is completed by pulsing the laser. After that, you can proceed with the continuous wave.

To lower the probability of a blowout happening, you can reduce the gas pressure to a level that can still support combustion. Additionally, you can control the focal point and clean the surface of the material to remove any grime or oil.

3. Distortion

A heat-affected zone is usually produced during the process of laser cutting. HAZ is caused by the rise in temperature above a critical transformation point.

For instance, during laser processing .18 HAZ is produced on 7mm-thick steel. Because of the brittleness of HAZ, the area cannot withstand cracking during stress or bending. Usually, HAZ can be removed by post-heating the part, though there’s still a risk of distortion.

Laser cutting causes more stresses in materials as compared to other methods like waterjet cutting. Usually, laser processing doesn’t cause much distortion to materials, but that will depend on the parameters, the thickness of the material and the composition.

In most cases, distortion will occur when laser is subjected to thin materials of approximately .001 to .005 of wall thickness. The reason why thin materials are easily distorted is that a recast layer forms on their edge.

Over to You

At least you now know some of the challenges faced by the laser cutting industry and the best of all is that you are in a position to handle each problem.

About the author

Raj Hirvate

Hi, I'm Raj Hirvate and I am a Tech Blogger from India. I like to post about technology and product reviews to the readers of my blog. Apart from blogging i'm a big Anime fan I Love Watching Naruto, One piece and Death Note.