information on laser cutting
Laser cutting system
match the material being cut. The laser cuts by vaporizing the material under the cutting head. Softer materials, like paper, plastic and wood, can get by with low power; metals need more. Lasers typically use 1000 to 2000 watts of electricity. The laser's advantage is that it concentrates the power into a tiny, easily guided spot of light.
The cutting speed of a laser comes from a combination of its power, the absorption efficiency of the material and the material's hardness. A general-purpose laser cutting system
can cut paper and cloth at speeds of a meter per second or better. The same system will cut steel at a few meters per minute.
Many materials are suited for laser cutting, though a few are not. Sheets of cloth, paper, and wood make good candidates, cutting easily and quickly. Thin sheets of glass can also be cut if the cutting system has a water sprayer to cool the area just cut. Manufacturers use lasers to cut many metals, particularly sheet steel. Titanium is another good choice for laser cutting
. Higher-powered lasers are needed to cut aluminum and brass. The laser light absorption for these are lower than other metals, so more power is necessary to make a good cut. Copper's light absorption is very poor, so other cutting methods must be employed for this metal.
Most laser cutting systems have a flat-bed configuration, moving sheets of materials over a cutting area. The laser moves in an x-y plane over the material. The laser can be modulated rapidly, turning on and off to make cuts, holes and other penetrations as well as surface etching and milling. Some lasers are used for pipe cutting, where a long tube of the material rotates on its axis under the laser. Other cutting systems combine a solid-state laser, a flexible fiber-optic guide and a robot arm with several degrees of freedom. These systems can perform sophisticated machining in 3-D.
A laser cutting system's speed is related to its efficiency, which is a product of several factors. The goal is to vaporize material, and to do that, the laser's power is concentrated into a small area. The efficiency of carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers varies from about 15 to 25 percent, meaning it turns 1000 watts of electricity into about 200 watts of light. The material has its own absorption efficiency. Some of the light is transmitted or reflected and doesn't heat the material. The more efficiently it absorbs the light, the hotter it gets and the faster you can cut it.