What Are the Uses for Laser Cutting Metal?
There are many uses for laser cutting metal that you may not realize. Read all the details below.
Laser cutting refers to the manufacturing process that uses laser technology to cut through flat-sheet metal as well as other structural materials used extensively within the manufacturing industry. Its popularity and use have spread to other sectors such as hobbyists, schools, etc.
The overall design and application of laser equipment are quite distinct from other types of metal cutting machines.
The 3 major types of laser machines used extensively in industries today are:
- CO2 lasers for engraving
- Nd-YAG and Nd lasers for cutting
These laser machines are programmable and easily convert 2D digital designs from CAD – other vector-based images – into physical objects.
High-powered laser beams usually cut by burning, melting, or vaporizing the material. The result has an incredibly fine level of detail. The entire process is highly efficient, versatile, and flexible. It is an excellent, cost-effect option for those considering metal fabrication.
Laser cutting was initially used in the ’60s for drilling holes in diamond dies. These are special and vital tools utilized every day within the manufacturing industry.
But soon, the aerospace industry started making use of laser cutting. A wide variety of laser types were produced, which could cut textile materials as well as other non-metals.
How Laser Cutting Works
Laser cutting is mostly employed when etching processes are not an option as a result of the nature and size of the component. The laser works by cutting, burning, melting, and blowing away the pattern as instructed by a master computer. The laser beams can be manipulated in order to achieve the desired or designed result.
Laser cutting can be utilized for engraving, cutting a precise line through thin metal plates. Technological advancement has made it possible for laser cutting to be used on different materials with varying degrees of thickness.
Top Uses for Laser Cutting
The most apparent use of laser cutting includes cutting gears as well as other flat components.
But here are some of the top uses for laser cutting metal:
- The die, mold, and tool industries
Dies are essential for cutting replica pieces and are made via laser cutting. Lasers can accurately cut materials of different depths or thicknesses. Such dies are used for stamping pieces that last through the highly repetitive die-cutting processes.
Laser cutting makes replicating the die an accurate and quick process. It is used for making injection molds with incredible accuracy. This easily simplifies the entire mold-making process. It makes reproducing the precise mold a less time-consuming and cost-effective endeavor.
Laser cutters have also found excellent use within the tool manufacturing industry. They are used for engraving and marking as well as the manufacturing of simple hand tools.
Engineers are seriously considering replacing die-cutting on sturdy or thick metals with laser cutters due to the speed of execution of the latter. Laser cutters are also seriously considered for engraving company logos and company info on the rubberized handles of most machines or tools.
- The automotive industry
The automotive industry utilizes laser cutting for accurately producing different components relatively quickly. There is always a considerable need for replicas of a component of different sizes and shapes.
Lasers are used to cut plastics and metals to form the body pieces of most vehicles. It is also used for making buttons, interior covers, and electronic components.
Laser cutters are also used for engraving the buttons inside vehicles so light can come through. They are used for engraving part numbers and serial numbers onto manufactured components. Even the dies used for cutting these different pieces are usually laser cut.
- Medical device manufacturing
Laser cutting in the medical industry is most evident in the production of medical devices as well as laser surgery.
Laser cutting makes it possible for surgeons to perform more precise cuts. Medical personnel uses lasers to help patients recover or heal faster from laser surgery.
Laser-cut components are used to create medical devices that significantly enhance patients’ quality of life.
The next time you set eyes on valve framers, bone reamers, stents, flexible shafts, hones, vascular clips, etc., know and appreciate the fact that each of these is manufactured thanks to laser cutting technology.
- The jewelry industry
Jewelry-making processes would not be what it is today without the precision of laser cutting. For instance, the small gears in watches are laser-cut with incredible accuracy. Production time is minimized when making gears, and there’s less waste.
Since lasers can cut highly precise shapes from materials of varying thicknesses, laser cutting is employed extensively in jewelry-making processes. Lasers are used for creating bracelets or rings of exact widths, diameter, and depth.
Lasers are also used for inscriptions and engraving designs onto the surfaces of jewelry pieces.
- Ceramic manufacturing
Engineers use ceramics for creating a wide range of products, thanks to its numerous properties. Ceramics has low thermal and electrical conductivity, making them excellent insulators.
Ceramics have incredibly high melting points and don’t react with other chemicals. They are also highly durable.
Lasers are used for cutting ceramics as this helps minimize processing time without compromising the quality of the material’s edges. You will find ceramic parts in various applications, including airplane jet engines, headphones, electric cooktops, electric motors, power plant generators, loudspeakers, and incandescent lamps.
- Silicon manufacturing
Silicon is one of the vital materials known for its wide range of applications that are of considerable benefit to laser cutting.
Engineers use precision cutting to create smaller silicone components, which is practically impossible with other cutting procedures. Silicon is a tetravalent, non-metallic material that is age-resistant, has exceptional tolerance for high temperatures, and can easily be manipulated.
Some of the typical applications for silicon can be found in household products, computers, architecture, automobiles, electronics, and textiles.
Laser cutting is widely employed in a wide variety of industries. The examples listed above are just a handful of several laser cutting applications in manufacturing processes.
The technology behind laser cutting also continues to advance and broaden. Even though it has some limitations, the possibilities for laser cutting applications are endless.
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