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How Does Precision Laser Cutting Create Compressor Plates?

Precision laser cutting is an extremely important process in manufacturing to ensure every product is consistent and precise.

Precision Laser Cutting for Compressor Valve Plates | KB Delta

A quality product arises from quality materials.

In order to build reliable and efficient compressors, the machine’s plates must perform well in a variety of temperatures and conditions.

One way a strong fit for a compressor plate is achieved is through precision laser cutting.


The Importance of Compressor Plates

To understand why precision laser cutting is a strong option in the creation of compressor valve plates, it’s important to first have a grasp of how vital this part of the machine is.

The plates are “the base of the base” of any compressor. Compressors operate on gas flow in and out of their cylinders.

– What Do They Do?

The gas is regulated by compressor valves, and the valves, which are round, are made of circular plates or rings. These valves open and close rapidly many times during typical performance, once for every compression cycle.

That means that the valves sometimes open and close over a million times a day, with the plates providing a seal each time.

If the plates aren’t working properly…then the valves aren’t working properly…and the compressor is not working properly.

Precision laser cutting, then, ensures that the compressor plates are smooth, durable, consistent, and an accurate fit for the valve.


Compressor Plates Materials: Ideal for Precision Laser Cutting

Compressor plates are in almost constant motion and may experience constant exposure to gas, liquids, and high temperatures. As their job involves sealing, they must also perform perfectly when at a brief standstill.

Top functionality requires material which is lightweight but strong.

– High Stress

The high-stress nature of compressor plate application means that they must not distort easily, but should still withstand reshaping via precision laser cutting.

Most modern compressor plates, therefore, are composites. The plates may be manufactured with carbon fiber or glass fiber filled materials, the basis of which may be nylon or PEEK, a thermoplastic polymer.

These materials may or may not contain iron as a component. Others are synthetic, and don’t contain any metal at all. Both can work well with laser cutters.


Why Laser Cutting for Compressor Plates?

There is no one “perfect” compressor plate for all possible applications.  Because of this, manufacturers like to have choices in the materials, width, and diameter of compressor plates.

The versatility of laser cutting meets these options.

– Consumers

Hobbyists may be familiar with using increasingly cost-available laser cutters for home projects. They have found that laser cutting can carve intricate designs on a wide variety of materials, from thick wood to thin stickers. Laser cutting is also used in the fashion industry to provide design embellishment and fray-free finishes.

As this is the state of lasers in the consumer market, the manufacturing world has developed laser cutting into practically an everyday function.

– Manufacturing

Compressor plates demand high functionality with small, sometimes slender parts. This means that refining them to their valves and compressors calls for extraordinary accuracy.

The ability to bevel, create certain shapes, burn perfectly shaped tiny holes, and allow for a smooth finish is also highly desirable.

Sometimes, a cutting mechanism is needed to penetrate exact amounts into the material, but not completely through it. Precision cutting reliably provides all this and more.

Extremely narrow cutting also means that less material is wasted, and the laser beam avoids unnecessary distortion of the plate’s surface.

Since compressor plates can be small, laser cutting avoids a labor challenge: The even edges of laser-cut materials mean that finishing is usually not necessary.


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Types of Lasers

The intense beams of light issuing from industrial-grade lasers means a great deal of variety, both in application and in means of production.

1. CO2  Lasers

Most fine, lightweight precision laser work is accomplished by CO2 lasers. Some of these lasers can even be used for

  • welding
  • work on organic surfaces
  • ceramics decoration
  • wrinkle reduction

If a compression plate requires delicate shaping, a CO2 laser may be used to shape it.

CO2 lasers, which dominated the production landscape for forty years, work with optical mirrors, helium, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen to produce a high-energy– but controlled– gas discharge.

However, because CO2 lasers depend on mirrors for proper operation, they cannot cut reflective materials such as aluminum and brass.

2. Fiber Lasers

Energy is created in a different way in fiber lasers. This technology uses fiber optic cables, much like the ones used for entertainment and data transfer, to channel diodes.

This focused light is then applied to the compressor plate material to configure or adjust its shape.

Since they do not use mirrors, fiber lasers are used on compressor plates which might contain reflective materials.

3. Crystal Lasers

Crystal lasers, which came into popular usage in the 1990s, are perhaps the closest we will come to Star Wars-style lightsabers.

The electrons within crystals absorb energy from an electrical stream, then emit strong, vibrantly colored lasers which can be green, violet, red, yellow, blue, orange, and ultraviolet.

Although they require warmup time, these little lasers are usually packaged in lightweight casing, don’t emit a lot of noise, and can get a lot of cutting work done without expending a great deal of energy.


Types of Laser Cutting Systems

Manufacturers have many choices regarding the configuration of a laser cutter. When it comes to creating compressor plates, the intended use and base material of the plate comes into consideration.

– Moving Material

Moving material lasers have a stationary cutting laser head; the object it is cutting moves. If the compressor plate is larger or made of thick material, this kind of system is used.

– Flying Optic Systems

On flying optic laser systems, however, the lasers are situated over one or two axes. Two heads may be used simultaneously. They do the moving while the object stays still. As these systems are more complex and use more energy, they can be less cost efficient than moving material lasers.

– Hybrid

Compressor plates which are produced on cutting systems with a hybrid configuration move along with the laser. While these machines can be simpler to operate and can cut a wide variety of materials, they can may not be as energy efficient.

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