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What is a CNC Laser Cutter, and How Does it Work?

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What is a CNC Laser Cutter, and How Does it Work?

A CNC laser cutter is a piece of computer numerical control (CNC) equipment that uses a focused, high-powered laser beam to mark, cut, or engrave a material to form custom shapes. Its unique design and operation make it highly accurate, especially when cutting intricate shapes and small holes.

CNC laser cutting is a non-contact, thermal-based process. A CNC laser cutter features a laser head containing a laser focusing lens and a nozzle. Through the nozzle, this head and lens assembly focuses a laser beam — a column of very high-intensity light ㅡ on the workpiece, melting and cutting the workpiece to form the desired shape. CNC lasers employ compressed gas (also flowing through the nozzle that ejects the laser beam) to cool the focusing lens and expel the vaporized metal out of the workpiece.

Look at it this way. When you focus a high-powered laser beam at a point on a metallic surface, the heat density at that point becomes high, resulting in rapid heating and partial (or complete) vaporization of that point on the metal. CNC technology then controls the sequence of movements of this laser head and laser beam on the work surface to form the desired custom shapes and features.

What are the Types of CNC Laser Cutting Machines?

CNC laser cutters are typically categorized based on the state of the active laser medium (solid, liquid, or gas) and the component of the active laser medium (for example, CO2, Nitrogen, etc.). Here are three of the most commonly used types of lasers today:

CNC CO2 laser cutter

CNC fiber laser cutter

#1 CNC CO2 Laser Cutter

The CO2 laser cutter is a type of gas laser that employs carbon dioxide as the active laser medium. They are the most common type of laser cutters primarily because of their high power output capability and efficiency.

CO2 laser cutters generate a power output of up to 15 kW and an efficiency of up to 30% (the highest of all the gas laser cutters). They are ideal for cutting fine features and acute angles, especially in sheet metals or metals with a thickness of less than 10 mm. Higher powered CO2 laser cutters can also deliver good cut quality on thicker metal surfaces.

#2 CNC Fiber Laser Cutter

FIber laser cutters are a more recent laser technology that uses a bank of diodes to create the beam, which is focused through a fiber-optic cable. Fiber laser cutters allow you to achieve a faster and cleaner cutting process than CO2 laser cutters, especially in materials with a thickness of less than 5 mm.

Advantages of CNC Laser Cutting

Here is a list of some of the advantages of the CNC laser cutting process over conventional CNC machining processes:

1.CNC laser cutting produces more intricate designs and holes as small as 2 mm with a high degree of accuracy and precision.

2.CNC laser cutting produces cleaner cuts, eliminating the need for additional post-processing (or finishing ) operations.

3.CNC laser cutters eliminate the need for several cutting tools or custom tools, such as in conventional CNC routers and milling machines.

The non-contact nature of the laser cutting process decreases the risk of material distortion and material contamination, making them ideal for machining components that will be used in the medical industry.

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