Even though laser cutting in fabrication has been around for almost 60 years, it still feels like a futuristic practice. The first production laser cutting machine was developed in 1965. The idea of a beam of light easily slicing through a sheet of metal is something that 100 years ago seemed fantastical. Now it is common in custom fabrication, as the technology continues to develop and become more efficient. At IMH Products we are a provider of fast and precise laser cutting services for our clients. It is a tested and trusted process that it fulfilled at our largest production facility, but how, exactly, does laser cutting occur?

Three Types of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is not a one-size-fits-all process. There are three different types of lasers used in laser cutting. A CO2 laser system is one of the earliest gas lasers that was developed and it is used primarily for cutting, boring, and engraving. A Neodymium (Nd) and Neodymium Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd-YAG) laser are identical in style, but have different applications. An Nd laser is used for boring where high energy, but low repetition is needed. The Nd:YAG las is used when very high power is needed for boring and engraving. This type can also be used for welding.

Then there is accuracy, which is achieved through the machine configuration. By using laser cutting, fabricators can cut to an accuracy of 10 micrometers and repeatability of 5 micrometers. All three types of machine configurations can achieve this accuracy, as well. Moving material lasers have a stationary cutting head that that moves the material under it. Hybrid lasers have a table that moves one axis (usually the X-axis) while the head of the laser moves along the shorter axis. The third type of configuration is the flying optics laser, which has a stationary table with a moving blade.

Currently, IMH Products operates nine lasers. Even of these lasers are high-powered variable beam fiber lasers. This allows for CNC (computer numerical control) cutting that directs the beam into the material. The beam then either melts, burns, vaporizes away, or the material is blown away by a jet of gas. That leaves an edge with a high-quality surface finish.

Advantage of Laser Cutting

One of the biggest advantages of laser cutting is accuracy and adaptability. Laser cutting cuts through non-ferrous materials with ease and it uses fast machinery for a rapid turnaround. Lasers can cut with less energy than other methods because they use gasses such as nitrogen and oxygen, and they can cut through the thickest of metals. Finally, they can cut complex shapes quickly and efficiently with precise detail.

The ability to cut comes from the focus of the beam by using a high-quality lens on the work zone. The beam quality has a direct effect on the focused spot size. The narrowest part of the beam is generally less than 0.0125 inches in diameter, with some widths as small as 0.004 inches possible. In order to achieve the smoothest possible finish during contour cutting, the direction of the beam polarization must be rotated as it goes around the periphery of a contoured workpiece.

When all of these parts of the process are combined, it produces clean, accurate cuts with great precision efficiently and quickly. At IMH Products, we consistently invest in advanced laser technologies in order to support the needs of our customers. This means we are a hub for hub for some of the most advanced machining technology in the Midwest. For more information on how we can partner with your business please contact us at sales@imh.com.