Laser cutting is a modern technique of cutting various materials. It employs laser beams guided by computer-aided design and drafting for precision and other design requirements when cutting. The laser beam is generated using a laser tube and reflected against several mirror surfaces for direction. To add on that, there is a laser head with a lens, which focuses the beam on a particular section of the material being cut or engraved. Generally, several laser cutting techniques are available to you depending on the type of material that you want to cut. Here is a discussion of the various techniques to help you choose the right vendor when looking for laser cutting services:
Fusion Cutting or Melt Shearing Mechanism
In the fusion cutting or melt shearing technique, the laser beam heats and melts the material being cut. The melt is generated from the bottom of the cut due to the mechanical action of the gas jet used for cutting. Ideally, you can only use this technique if you want to laser cut material that can melt without significant damage caused by heat or chemical reactions. Thermoplastics and metal are a good example. Molten thermoplastics don't react with oxygen or nitrogen gas, meaning that they can be easily cut using compressed air. However, some molten metals such as stainless steel react with oxygen and are cut using nitrogen.
Chemical Degradation Mechanism
The melt shearing process cannot be used on materials such as wood and other forms of thermoset polymers because they do not melt. This is where cutting by chemical degradation comes in handy. Here, the laser beam burns the material being cut and turns it into smoke and other components of the original material. The final product has smooth, flat edges covered by a layer of carbon. Notably, chemical degradation uses more energy compared to simply melting the material. The speed is generally low, and it is often quite expensive compared to the fusion cutting technique.
Evaporation Cutting Mechanism
Evaporation cutting is quite expensive because of the high levels of energy required to achieve high temperatures to facilitate evaporation. For this reason, it is rarely used for laser cutting metals and plastics, considering the efficiency of the melt shearing technique. However, it comes in handy when you are working with Polymethylmethacrylate, simply referred to as acrylic or Perspex. Since it can boil away during this procedure, acrylic produces a polished, glossy cut and edge that is ideal for display and sign purposes.
Laser cutting mechanisms are a great way to save time and money when compared to traditional cutting techniques. With this information, you know what type of laser cutting vendor to look for depending on the material you want to cut.