Laser cutting machines - for professional cutting work in industrial production
History, development and background of laser cutting machines
Structure of a laser cutter
Types of CNC lasers
Areas of application for laser cutting machines
Laser cutting machine requirements
Buying used laser cutters
Overview of laser cutting machine manufacturers
What is a laser cutter used for? Laser cutting machines, or laser cutters, are machine tools for use in the industrial processing of metals and other materials. Laser cutting can be performed in a variety of ways. The most widespread methods are laser beam cutting, laser beam fusion cutting and sublimation cutting. The main benefits of laser cutting are that production can commence on a single piece and that a wide variety of materials can be cut. Economical exploitation of materials and very clean cutting edges on certain materials that do not require reworking are two other positive aspects of this cutting process. Disadvantages include the high up-front costs for the equipment and ongoing costs for power and gas.
- Machinery for cutting sheet metal
- Three different common procedures
- Various materials can be cut
Laser cutting can be performed through scoring or thermal laser separation (TLS). While the three methods mentioned are suitable for all materials (particularly structural steel, stainless steel, aluminium and non-ferrous metal), scoring and TLS are primarily used on brittle materials such as glass, ceramics and semiconductor plates.
The laser cutting machine was developed to enable effective processing of workpieces and can be deployed very economically even with small batch sizes, in contrast to punching and nibbling. Some manufacturers have started producing combination machines, which combine the processes of laser cutting, punching and nibbling in a single piece of equipment. The way in which stainless steel can be cut economically is also an advantage, as well as the very complex shapes that can be produced.
Laser cutting machine in operation
A laser cutting machine consists of a clad base frame onto which all the components are attached. Traditional laser cutters feature a laser beam source, laser beam guidance and a machining head with optical equipment to focus the laser beam, as well as a copper cutting nozzle. The various elements possess a range of mirrors to help guide the laser beam. The laser technology is designed in such a way that the laser beam departs from its source, is guided around deflection mirrors to the focussing optics at the site of processing. The optical system focusses the laser beam to achieve the intensity required for cutting. In the case of Nd:YAG lasers, fibre lasers and disc lasers, the laser beam is guided in the form of near-infrared light via an optical cable. The surface upon which the panel material to be cut is placed features tips, teeth or cutting edges, which guarantee a small support surface. It is made from a laser-resistant material featuring low back reflection to ensure the material is not unintentionally destroyed from below. Proper work preparation is a key aspect in laser cutting sheet metal. The programmes for operating the machine can be created offline or through inputting parameters into the machine. CAD/CAM solutions are the most widespread methods.
Those wishing to perform metal laser cutting generally make this decision based on CO2 output. In addition to gas lasers, solid-state lasers (Nd:YAG lasers) are also widespread and use neodymium-doped YAG crystal as the active medium. There are also fibre lasers, which are very efficient and easy to focus. The type of laser machine required depends on the material to be processed and the desired quality of the end product. Today, the most modern laser cutting machines are generally CNC lasers, which function on the principle of computerised numerical control. Professional laser cutters are also available in special versions, such as pipe-, profile- and marking lasers. Deciding which laser cutting machine to use largely depends on the intended purpose for the device.
Laser beam cutting is a thermal separation process which is regularly used for the processing of metal. What is a laser cutter used for? The material involved is often sheet metal, which sophisticated machines can simultaneously mark, nibble and punch. roulette wheel free laser cutters are used wherever there are sheets of metal in need of processing, such as steel construction, machinery construction and apparatus/tool manufacturer. Laser cut steel can be shaped into very complex forms, including very small cogged pinions made from structural steel using a pulsed laser. Special ventilation grates can also be created. Even steel as thick as 40 mm can be effectively cut using these machines. Stainless steel can be cut at widths of up to 50 mm. Aluminium is suitable for laser cutting at widths of up to 25 mm. Other materials, such as wood, are sometimes also processed using laser cutters, especially wood pallets. CNC lasers are also suited to other organic materials. Laser cutters are often operated two-dimensionally but, in some models, are also suitable for processing 3D items, such as pipes and profiles. Depending on the equipment included in the device, laser cutting also enables the production of three-dimensional openings.
Those looking to buy a laser cutter have often made the decision on the basis of lower CO2 emissions. These types of machines enable operators to precisely and rapidly process metallic materials, and speeds of up to 10 - 100 metres per second are commonplace, depending on the performance capabilities of the device. Laser cutting allows workpieces to be processed without physical human intervention and with a very small amount of power; they make it economically viable to produce small batches, which would not be the case with punching machines. There are also CNC lasers possessing an optional punching head enabling any types of contour to be created thanks to the combination of punching and lasering. Precise work results can be expected as a matter of course since most lasers use CNC technology and the more complex pieces of machinery are equipped with professional focussing optics to produce the highest quality laser cut steel.
Those looking to buy a used laser cutting machine should ensure the device is equipped with the latest laser technology. A CNC laser should be powerful enough to processing panel thicknesses of 40 mm for steel, 50 mm for stainless steel and 25 mm for aluminium. If the laser uses CNC technology, it is crucial that the software used is up-to-date. If you decide to buy a used laser cutting machine, an entry-level model with 2D technology can be relatively cost-effective alternative. However, you should aim for the highest accuracy and best cutting quality and the device should feature settings enabling you to switch between flat surfaces and pipe structures. For industrial applications, laser cutters with two cutting heads are ideal.
A range of companies have specialised in the manufacture of laser cutters, some of which include: TRUMPF, MAZAK, ESAB, LASER, ERMAK and AMADA, as well as HACO, BEHRENS and PRIMA POWER. Your first port-of-call for a second-hand laser cutter is free roulette. We regularly have second-hand laser cutters for sale from the field of laser technology at attractive prices, so it is worth having a look from time-to-time to see whether you can pick up a laser metal cutting machine at a bargain price. If the right equipment is not available at the moment, please visit us again in the near future. Our portfolio is continually expanding through company liquidations, clearance sales and insolvencies.