One of the main techniques used to cut materials for machining is laser cutting. The process involves melting, burning and vaporizing the material in the presence of a powerful laser beam. There are several types of laser cutting machines available in the market.
The main principle of laser cutting machines is to use a fine laser beam focused on the material, which can make some hard materials, which were previously difficult to cut, easy to cut with a laser.
Laser cutting is typically used in large industrial settings to cut materials such as metals and plastics. It uses a laser, usually controlled by a computer, to melt or burn the material. Although the laser cutting process produces high quality and accurate cuts, it has drawbacks.
The three main drawbacks of laser cutting
The main disadvantages of laser cutting of sheet metal are
1. Limitations on the thickness of the metal being cut
Lasers can cut most materials and are primarily used in the sheet metal fabrication industry to cut metal and plastic sheets. In most manufacturing industries, there is a limit to the thickness that can be cut with a laser, usually around 25 mm.
2. Evaporation of Material During Cutting (Material Loss)
Evaporation often occurs during laser cutting of plastics. This is a serious drawback of laser cutting. This disadvantage can be overcome in the hands of a professional operator. However, it is often impossible to completely avoid material evaporation and reduce material loss.
3. Difficulty in Handling Complex Shapes with Laser
Laser cutting has difficulty in cutting complex shapes, especially three-dimensional parts with a degree of complexity that it does not specialize in.
Laser cutting requires cutting from one dimension to cut highly complex parts, then rotating and re-cutting the part. This process would be very time consuming and costly.
Disadvantages of different types of laser cutting machines
The main types of lasers widely used in the market are CO2 and fiber. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more about the disadvantages of both types of laser cutting machines.
Disadvantages of CO2 laser cutting
CO2 lasers can’t compete with fiber optics for cutting thin materials. For example, the recommended cutting speed of a 4KW CO2 for 16 GA mild steel using N2 as the cutting gas is only 260 IPM. At the same time, a fiber laser with the same equipment has a recommended cutting speed of approximately 1,417 IPM, which is a significant difference.
The advantage of CO2 lasers for surface processing is the ability to process thicker materials, such as stainless steel and aluminum, where CO2 remains the market leader.CO2 lasers are more flexible than other lasers and can cut a wider variety of materials, especially non-metals.
Disadvantages of Fiber Laser Cutting
The disadvantage of fiber laser cutting is that more complex work can significantly reduce the cutting speed. Fiber laser cutting is not as flexible as CO2 laser cutting. Fiber lasers are currently limited in the materials that can be cut, especially for non-metallic applications, which are still limited. While most metals can be cut with this method, certain materials (e.g., copper, brass, and aluminum) may not be compatible with the process. For thicker materials, especially stainless steel and aluminum, fiber laser cutting technology must reach the level of CO2 laser cutting to cut successfully.
Need laser cutting services?
If you need to cut sheet metal parts, fiber lasers are an excellent choice due to their high efficiency, long-term stability and low maintenance costs. At Elimold, our goal is to expand the range of applications for this technology (cutting steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, etc.) with cost-effective fiber laser systems for cutting sheet metal and tubing.
If you want to make your business more efficient and streamlined, laser cutting can help. It can save your business a lot of time due to the high cutting speeds compared to mechanical cutting.