Laser cutting is an advancement in technology that makes use of a laser for slicing materials. Though this process is typically used in the industries, laser cutting is also getting popular in small businesses and schools.
A metal laser cutting machine uses two types of lasers – CO2 laser and fibre laser. The former one uses a CO2 based gas mixture to slice materials. Fibre lasers are the solid-state lasers which use a crystalline solid as the medium.
The CO2 laser has an edge over its counterpart in the field of cutting through thick steel. But, a fibre laser cutting machine offers greater cutting speeds and utilizes lesser energy. Moreover, the electrical efficiency of fibre laser is five times more than its compeer.
The following are the key elements you must look for when choosing a fibre laser cutting machine.
- 1. LASER POWER:
A few years ago, fibre laser power levels could barely reach 6 KW. These days, a top fibre laser power reaches 15 KW at ease.
The power levels in a fibre laser welding cutting easily exceeds 100 KW. By now, you must have realised that it isn’t the laser power level which is holding us back today. The beam delivery system is the one that turns tables.
HOW MUCH POWER DO YOU REALLY NEED?
Have a look at the following table which clearly sites the required range of power level to slice common metals of particular thicknesses.
THICKNESS OF METAL- REQUIRED RANGE OF POWER LEVEL
Up to 0.15 inch [4 mm]- 6 to 8 KW
0.25 to 0.75 inch- 8 to 10 KW
Over 0.75 inch- 8 to 15 KW
It isn’t impossible for a 1 KW laser power to cut 4 mm stainless steel. But, low power reduces the cutting speed significantly. Moreover, you will require an experienced operator to continue with such tedious operations.
HOW DOES AN INCREASE IN LASER POWER AFFECT THE OPERATION COST?
When the power goes up, operation costs vary. It has mostly been observed that by doubling the laser power, the operation cost increases by 20-30%. But, as long as the additional power reduces the part cycle time, this increase in operation cost doesn’t carry much value.
- 2. MOTION DYNAMICS:
This criterion includes two performance specifications.
- A. MAXIMUM RAPID TRAVERSE SPEED & MAXIMUM CUT PATH SPEED:
It is easier to get confused with this specification.
Is a fast metal cutting machine required to slice thicker materials?
A fibre laser cutting machine that can cut thicker metals can cut thinner ones as well. When thicker materials are cut, machine speed plays a critical role.
- B. ACCELERATION:
The more the acceleration, the better the performance.
Most of the manufacturers don’t provide this data. You must ask for the acceleration data because acceleration has a large impact on the cycle time for plate cutting.
- 3. MATERIAL EXCHANGE:
These days, most of the stainless steel laser cutting machines cut sheets and plates quickly. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any scope of wastage of time due to delay in loading in a fresh sheet.
Today, the quickest pallet changers can swap a pallet in just 10 seconds, even for thick material cutting as well.
Laserlx is a professional fibre laser cutting machine and factory and supplier. It has stayed in business since 2004 and delivers quality parts in the shortest time. Visit their website to know more about their services and production processes.