The laser has long been synonymous with all things precise and clean, and for a good reason. Versatile and reliable, laser cutting can apply to all types of material and offers a range of unique benefits over traditional techniques. In fact, this method is now the industry standard in various industrial sectors. Everything from automotive and aerospace to semiconductor component manufacturing and medicine can benefit from this adaptable manufacturing technique.
Keep reading to learn more about the features and benefits of laser cutting, and how it can help with your unique application.
Understanding the Technique: How Laser Cutting Works
Laser cutting has emerged as one of the most popular manufacturing techniques available, and is used by countless industries across the globe. Its primary application involves the removal of excess material, in which the laser is used to ensure optimal precision.
Laser cutting is primarily a thermal-based procedure, in which a focused laser beam melts a highly targeted area of a material to be cut. Cutting is completed through the combination of pressure and heat that is directed via a nozzle. With the help of gas jet, molten material is ejected, and a small kerf is created.
This technique is primarily used for metal cutting, as a laser is able to handle virtually everything thrown its way, whether cutting steel, nickel, tungsten, aluminum, or brass. Lasers are also used for cutting reflective metals — including gold and silver — as well as non-metallic materials, including polymers, rubber, and plastics.
Lasers are often used in critical manufacturing processes involving the cutting of silicon, making this technique an important tool in the production of high-tech components such as microelectronic parts, semiconductors, and solar panels.
The Benefits of Laser Cutting
There are numerous factors contributing to the widespread popularity of laser cutting. First, laser cutting offers high accuracy and precision — key advantages over traditional techniques. Laser cutting also guarantees excellent performance whenever clean cuts and smoother edge finishes are needed, as the use of laser energy to cut using a highly focused beam can hold tight tolerances around the desired cutting region.
Because laser cutting is used within the confines of strictly defined areas, without the need for additional heat, much narrower sections of material can be worked compared to other techniques. Also, a laser’s heat affected zone is relatively small, which means the material being worked is less impacted by warping or distortion resulting from changes to its microstructure. And, unlike competing techniques, laser cutting can produce highly complex geometries with better precision and excellent levels of tolerance.
As mentioned earlier, lasers can be used to cut through materials of all thicknesses, and are easily manipulated to deliver any needed shape, whether clients require a vehicle body or a mobile phone casing.
The laser cutting process is also very fast and can be easily repeated with equally high levels of precision. Thanks to the resultant kerf width, this method allows for higher levels of sheet utilization by enabling efficient part nesting. This makes it possible to save on material use and reduce the costs associated with overall scrap waste.
Additionally, laser cutting easily adapts to ever-changing manufacturing demands, both in terms of production volume and market needs. The equipment used for laser cutting can be set up and repurposed for specific needs much faster than can the tools associated with traditional cutting processes. And since the materials cut with lasers typically do not require additional cleanup, the use of laser cutting increases throughput and eliminates other secondary operations, allowing the product to be made available to clients in less time.
Working With Laser Cutting
Laser cutting offers clear advantages over traditional manufacturing methods. Its combination of highly focused energy and pressure allows for cutting on a much smaller and narrower area of material, with significantly reduced heat waste and scrap levels. And thanks to its highly precise, compact area of impact, laser cutting enables the creation of complex geometrical shapes with smoother edges and cleaner-cut finishes.
For these reasons, laser cutting has become the go-to manufacturing method for automotive, metalworking, aerospace, and microelectronics industries, among many others.
To ensure you choose the right type of laser cutting — whether it be laser die cutting or rotary die cutting — be sure to partner with a trusted manufacturer who can guide you through the selection process and create a tailored solution for your unique precision cutting needs.
Image Credit: gualtiero boffi/Shutterstock.com