What Laser Cutting is Capable Of

Modern manufacturing involves the machining of materials such as metal and plastic. For many thousands of years, human beings have machined many different materials, and sometimes, extra work is needed to make a finished product. Regular cutting, welding, or drilling in metal often creates rough, upraised imperfections on the metal known as burrs, and burrs are troublesome. Special tools known as lathes or carbide grinders can remove those burrs, but another option for avoiding burrs is to use a different cutting method entirely. What about laser cutting? This is a relatively new field, and while not all materials can be cut effectively with laser beams, laser engraving and laser cutting services have been known to produce fine results. Laser cutting plastic parts as well as metal can be done, and laser engraving plastic or metal is another option. And for other cutting methods, lathes can do a fine job of removing unwanted metal burrs.

Lasers and Cutting

Laser cutting and welding are relatively new fields in manufacturing, but laser cutting has already demonstrated itself to be a safe and effective method for cutting and engraving. Laser cutting plastic parts can be done for many industries, from computer parts to kids’ toys. In short, a laser-producing machine will flood its own interior with strong light, then focus that light with a combination of lenses and concentrated gases to create a thin, powerful beam. This beam focuses all of the thermal energy of the light into a tiny area, making it effective for making clean cuts, such as laser cutting plastic parts. This is an industrial version of using a magnifying glass to set a leaf on fire with sunlight. In that example, sunlight (and its heat) is being focused with a lens. Ther’s no additional power being added to the sunlight, but the warm light beams are focused to make a hot surface. Regular sunlight won’t set a leaf on fire, but lens-focused sunlight will. The same theory is applied on an industrial scale for laser cutting in a factory.

Does laser cutting plastic parts or metal sheets produce results? It certainly does. The beam not only cuts right through many common materials today, but the beam does not create any unwanted metal burrs, since there is no physical contact, like with a drill or a saw. What is more, the beam’s energy is very strong but focused, meaning that nearby areas of the material are not affected at all. While laser cutting plastic parts, the rest of the plastic will not heat up and melt, despite the presence of heat. The heat is focused entirely in that laser beam, making this a safe and clean procedure for any material meant to be cut with lasers. Laser cutting and engraving can be done neatly and carefully, and beams are very thin. In fact, the single narrowest part of the laser beam is under 0.0125 inches wide, very focused indeed.

This makes for accuracy that is impossible with other cutting methods. Laser cutting and measuring may be accurate within just one nanometer, or one billionth of a meter. Few if any other industrial work devices can boast that sort of accuracy. No wonder laser cutting plastic parts is so effective for cutting or engraving delicate items such as computer parts. Some produced items are very sensitive about the precision of their production, and clearly, laser cutters can provide it.

Metal Burr Removal

Even a factory that makes use of laser cutting for some parts may need to use welding or drilling for other stages in an item’s manufacturing. In this case, an extra step is involved: carbide grinding. Metal burrs are upraised imperfections in metal that result from cutting, welding, and drilling. Not only are these burrs unsightly, but they may scratch or scrape against other surfaces during the finished product’s use. These burrs may also attract static electricity, which may be a real problem. Therefore, they must be removed.

A lathe is a table-like assembly with a vise and a spinning grinder surface. The metal item is fed to the grinding surface, and the metal burrs are simply scraped and ground off until the item’s surface is smooth and consistent. Computers can help make this work more accurate and precise for best results.

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