Laser cutting or as it is sometimes called Metal Laser Cutting, is a CNC controlled machining process that uses high-powered laser beams directed through optical mirrors or fibre optics, to precisely burn or slice away material to a specific dimensional footprint. Laser cutting can be used on a variety of materials and to create an array of shapes and features.
There are multiple types of laser technologies used in industry today. CO2 or Gas Lasers work by electrically-stimulating a CO2 gas mixture, which is then passed through a lens to intensify the light. Fiber laser cutting is done using banks of diodes that create light and pass the light through optical fibres to amplify the light. Unlike CO2 technology fiber lasers have no moving parts. Crystal laser cutters use rare earth crystals to produce the light source and like fiber lasers are a solid state technology so there are no moving parts.
Our Laser Cutting Process and Approach
At AKI we primarily leverage laser cutting as a preliminary step prior to machining. While we do not have in house laser cutting capabilities we rely on a strong group of partners that we work closely with to compliment our capabilities. Whether you have a need for a small volume of simple parts to high volume or highly complex integrated solutions, we can support your needs.
We can support a variety of materials, from steel to stainless steel to aluminum and more. We cover industries from medical, to energy to defense to instrumentation and robotics and more. Have a current or upcoming project? Have a member of our team contact you to discuss.
Laser Cutting Applications
Laser cutting services are used in a multitude of industries and for a variety of applications. Laser cutting is often used as a first step in the manufacturing process. Lasers are ideal to quickly and cost effectively rough and shape sizes of a part that will then go into a further machining process. In many applications where tolerance requirements and finish specifications are not as demanding, often lasers can be used as a finishing process to cut out shapes and features in parts.
The Advantages of Laser Cutting
In general, laser cutting is a very cost effective way of manufacturing. Relative to other cutting technologies like waterjet, laser cutting has optimal precision, can create very good surface finishes, and is very flexible with regard to addressable applications. On the other hand water jet cutters can cut thicker materials and heat sensitive materials.
Within laser cutting technologies, CO2 is probably the most common and can handle thicker materials and create smoother finishes than fiber options. Fiber however is generally more energy efficient, and inexpensive to operate. Because of the small patch size fibre lasers can also process reflective materials better than CO2, which is a challenge for all laser cutting equipment. Crystal lasers are the highest power option but internal parts can wear out faster due the higher power output, and are therefore more costly to operate overall.