6 Fascinating Facts About Laser Cutting

Fascinating Facts About Laser Cutting You Should Know

Laser cutting technology has transformed the industrial world by allowing manufacturers and artisans to harness focused laser beams to create various applications. Over 70 years, the technology has evolved to where fiber laser machines now have widespread impacts across different industries. Laser machines provide many advantages over traditional cutting methods. 

The Evolution of Laser Cutting

While laser technology started in the 1950s, the Western Electric Engineering Research Center developed the first laser cutting machine in 1965. However, it was only experimental and not ready for practical industrial use. One of the early challenges inventors faced was a lack of suitable laser sources. 

The first industrial laser cutters relied on CO2 lasers. The large, cumbersome lasers required significant cooling systems. That made them expensive to maintain because they consumed a lot of power. Early lasers lacked precision and had limited cutting capabilities. They had difficulty cutting through thick materials, often leaving rough edges behind. 

Laser cutter technology took off with the invention of the microcomputer. Inventors created more compact lasers such as the fiber laser. The smaller, more energy-efficient design featured improved beam quality, allowing for finer and more precise cuts. 

The expanded use of computer numerical control systems helped enhance laser precision, expanding the automation capabilities of laser cutting machines. That, combined with updated laser cutting software, allowed operators more control over laser beam movements. The improved laser cutting accuracy made it easier to execute more intricate and complicated cuts in different materials. 

These advancements made laser cutting machines more cost-effective and widely accepted in different industries. Automotive companies use laser cutting innovations to shape and cut metal car components. The aerospace sector uses them to create strong, lightweight parts for aircraft.

While laser cutting metal started as the primary use for the machines, users can now work with ceramics, glass, plastics, and composites. The increased versatility of laser cutting applications led to their adoption in the electronics, medical device manufacturing, and food industries. Let’s explore some more facts about laser cutting machines and how they allow for the creation of intricate designs.

Fact 1: Laser Cutting Is a Dance Between Light and Material

Laser cutting relies on interactions between intense, concentrated light and materials to achieve clean, exact cuts. Laser cutting systems generate beams when atoms get excited and emit light photons. Those laser beams get focused and directed onto the source material to cut and create designs.

Below is an overview of several critical factors in how laser beams and materials interact. 

  • Absorption — Laser beams are absorbed and their energy is transferred when the beam strikes the material. 
  • Melting and vaporization — The absorbed energy heats the material. When the material exceeds its melting point, it transitions from solid to liquid. Additional heating causes vaporization that turns the liquid into a gas. That phase allows for the removal of material during the cutting process. 
  • Cutting gas — A cutting gas (usually oxygen, air, or nitrogen) gets introduced to the material interaction zone. The gas facilitates the cutting process by blowing away molten material and assisting in the oxidation or combustion of certain materials. The cutting gas used depends on the material and desired results. 

Fact 2: It Can Turn Raw Material Into a Masterpiece in Seconds

Traditional cutting methods often rely on using cumbersome saw blades or having someone manually cut material, which slows down the process. Using a fiber laser marker vastly increases laser cutting speed by allowing operators to maintain a consistent pace without compromising precision.

Unlike traditional cutting, switching tools is unnecessary when working on different materials or designs. Laser markers provide more cutting versatility, allowing you to work with the same machine. You can adapt to new materials by adjusting the laser cutting software. Operators also save time because of the clean edges left behind by laser cutters, which reduces the time needed for polishing and smoothing. 

Fact 3: Laser Cutting Goes Beyond Metal

Among the latest cutting advantages offered by laser technology is the material variety. While most people visualize metal laser cutting, you can use the machines on diverse materials. 

  • Wood — The cutting versatility of fiber laser markers makes them suitable for crafting wood objects, building architectural models, creating wooden puzzles, and designing home décor items. 
  • Acrylic — Acrylic is popular for creating signage, displays, and prototypes. The laser precision of new-age cutters allows you to create intricate designs and cuts in acrylic. 
  • Fabrics and textiles — Designers use fiber laser cutters to generate intricate patterns and decorative elements to produce custom clothing items. 
  • Plastics — Laser cutters work on PVC, PET, and polycarbonate, making them invaluable in producing plastic components, signage, packaging materials, and medical devices. 
  • Glass and ceramics — The laser cutting speed of fiber markers makes them helpful in cutting glass and ceramic materials that are brittle and heat-resistant. 

Fact 4: Laser Cutting Can Be Used To Produce Intricate Designs

The cutting accuracy of laser machines makes it easier to create clean, sharp lines. You can create complex geometric shapes and elaborate patterns. You also produce less scrap material, which increases the cost-effectiveness of laser cutting technology. It’s also easier to reproduce more-involved work when you need to reproduce one of your pieces. 

Fact 5: Software Controls Laser Cutting Precision

Laser cutting software provides more precise control over laser power, speed, and frequency. Fine-tuning these settings makes laser markers more customizable and flexible for various materials and applications. The software lets users create vector-based designs, essential in maintaining quality when reproducing a design. 

Fact 6: Laser Cutting Has a Bright Future

Advancements in laser technology, automation, and artificial intelligence enable manufacturers to work with thicker materials more precisely than ever. Increased speed and accuracy are helping increase industry productivity. Laser cutters have become a key component in automation and robotics, reducing the need for manual labor and reducing human error. 

Smart laser cutting systems driven by AI optimize cutting parameters in real-time. They’re also capable of predictive maintenance and can self-adjust to accommodate the properties of different materials,

Join the Future of Fiber Laser Marking

OMTech Laser prides itself on being at the forefront of new laser cutting technology. Check out our inventory of high-powered laser machines.