There are many different types of laser cutter on the market, but which is the best? This article discusses the most common types of laser cutting system in 2022.
Table of contents
Laser cutting methods
Types of laser cutting machine
Laser cutting methods
There are four main types of laser cutting method: laser vaporization cutting, laser melt cutting, laser oxygen cutting, and laser scribing with fracture control.
Laser vaporization cutting
In laser vaporization cutting, a laser beam with high energy density is used to heat the material. This means that the temperature rises rapidly, reaching the material’s boiling point in a very short time period. The material then begins to vaporize, forming vapor that is ejected at high velocity, forming cuts in the material. Generally, the heat from the vaporizing material is intense, meaning that a large amount of power and power density are required for effective laser vaporization cutting.
Laser vaporization cutting is mostly used to cut extremely thin metal materials and non-metallic materials (such as paper, fabric, leather, plywood, MDF, wood, plastic, and rubber).
Laser melt cutting
When melt cutting with a laser, the metals being cut are melted by the heat from the laser. Following this, non-oxidizing gas is sprayed through a nozzle that is coaxial with the laser beam. Finally, the liquid metal is discharged by the strong pressure of the gas to form a cut.
For the laser melt cutting process, the metal does not need to be completely vaporized. Additionally, the energy required is only 1/10 of that needed by the vaporized cutting method.
Laser melt cutting is mainly used to cut materials that are not easily oxidized as well as active metals, such as stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum, and their alloys.
Laser oxygen cutting
The principle of laser oxygen cutting is similar to that of oxy-acetylene cutting. It uses a laser as its preheating heat source and an active gas, such as oxygen, as its cutting gas.
During this process, two steps occur. One is that the gas interacts with the metal, causing oxidation and releasing a large amount of heat. The other is that the molten oxides are forcefully blown out of the reaction zone by the oxygen jet. This combination of heat and forceful removal of the melted material cuts the metal.
Since the oxidation reaction in the cutting process generates a lot of heat, the energy required for laser oxygen cutting is only 1/2 that needed by the melt cutting process. Additionally, the cutting speed is much faster than that of both laser vapor cutting and melt cutting.
Laser oxygen cutting is mainly used for easily oxidized metal materials, such as carbon steel, titanium steel, and heat-treated steel.
Laser scribing and fracture control
Laser scribing uses a high-energy-density laser to scan the surface of a brittle material. This heats the material and evaporates it into a small groove, whereupon a certain pressure is applied causing the brittle material to crack along the small groove. The lasers used for laser scribing are generally Q-switched lasers and CO2 lasers.
A controlled fracture, or fracture control, refers to the use of the steep temperature distribution, produced by laser grooving, to generate localized thermal stress in the brittle material, causing the material to break along the small groove.
Types of laser cutting machine
There are many types of laser cutting machine on the market, all of which fall into different categories for different uses:
- According to the cutting materials, laser cutting machines can be categorized into metal laser cutters and non-metal laser cutters.
- According to laser types, laser cutting machines can be divided into fiber laser cutting systems and CO2 laser cutting systems.
- According to the laser output power classification, laser cutting machines can be classified into high-power laser cutting machines, medium-power laser cutting machines, and low-power laser cutting machines.
Identifying the type of laser cutting machine based on laser-cut materials
Based on the material being cut, laser cutting machines can be metal laser cutters or non-metallic laser cutters. Generally, a metal laser cutting machine is used when metal materials are required, and a non-metal laser cutting machine is used when cutting non-metallic materials.
Classifying the type of laser cutting machine based on laser generators
According to the type of laser generator, laser cutting machines can be classified into three types: fiber lasers, CO2 lasers, and YAG lasers. This last type has disappeared from use, however, leaving fiber lasers as the mainstream in the laser market.
Identifying the type of laser cutting machine based on laser powers
According to laser power, laser cutting machines can be categorized into three types: high-power, medium-power, and low-power. This is important as the laser power required by different application fields are different.
In the industrial field, high-power fiber laser cutting machines are the main type used, while in the field of laser engraving, medium-power laser engraving and cutting machines are the main types used.
Defining the type of laser cutting machine based on laser cutting tables
The size of the sheet can be defined as one of two types: standard format and large format. Thus, the laser cutting table can also be defined as having two types: standard format laser cutting table and large format laser cutting table.
For the large-format type, the cutting length in the X-axis direction usually measures more than 8000 mm and the cutting width in the Y-axis direction usually measures 2500mm. For the standard format cutting table, the dimensions are generally about 3000 mm—1500 mm, and 4000 mm—2000 mm.
Recognizing the type of laser cutting machine based on laser-cut shapes
The type of cutting shape can be either 2D or 3D. 2D shapes are generally cut by flatbed laser cutting systems, while 3D shapes can be cut by robot laser cutting systems or 5-axis laser cutting systems.
Distinguishing the type of laser cutting machine based on its structure
According to the structure of the machine, laser cutting machines can be distinguished into either cantilever or gantry types. The cantilever type adopts an open structure, which is convenient for loading and unloading. Additionally, it is low cost, making it ideal for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The gantry type, meanwhile, adopts the bilateral drive mode, which has good dynamic performance, high cutting efficiency, and offers a stable and reliable long-term operation.
Discerning the type of laser cutting machine based on its application
According to its application, a laser cutting machine can take either a small type or large format type. Generally speaking, small types are used by hobbyists, home shops, and small businesses. Large format types are used for commercial use and industrial manufacturing.
Source from stylecnc.com
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