Aluminum Laser Cutting Basics
Manufacturers of beverages use aluminum laser cutting machines, which are a fast and accurate method for high volume orders. Laser technology goes back to the sixties and has greatly improved in recent years. Here are important facts to consider about laser cutting for aluminum materials.
What Makes Aluminum Unique?
Aluminum is an abundant metal, occupying about 8 percent of the Earth’s crust by weight. It’s a non-ferrous metal, along with brass, copper, silver and gold. Non-ferrous means metals besides iron or steel, exhibiting the properties of low weight with higher conductivity and a non-metallic quality. The fact that aluminum is lightweight and soft yet strong and durable makes the material easy to cut or shape on a laser cutting machine. The metal can be easily molded for countless imaginative shapes, which is why it’s a common choice for customization. Unlike iron or steel, aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion.
One of the reasons why laser cutters work well with aluminum is because they efficiently remove unnecessary materials in the cutting process. Since aluminum is so flexible, there is usually minimal waste. Whatever scraps are left over can be recycled.
Laser Cutting Choices
Carbon dioxide or fiber lasers are frequently used to cut thin non-ferrous sheet metal, although fiber lasers, which use solid state technology, are favored for metals that have strong reflectivity. CO2 lasers, which are driven by gas, have been traditionally thought to work better for thicker metal. But modern advancements in solid-state laser technology opens the door to a wider range of applications for fiber lasers.
Serra Laser utilizes a option when laser cutting aluminum called “M-Gas”. Nitrogen and oxygen are combined together as the laser assist gas. This function provides a almost machined looking edge and burr free bottom side. Please request this when asking for a quote.
Aluminum can be cut on various types of cutting machines such as laser, plasma, waterjet or mechanical. Plasma cutting, which is powered by a gas, provides an edge for thicker sheets, but CNC machines are flexible enough to handle quality cutting projects. For those considering the mechanical alternatives, costs will likely be higher, although they favor high volume projects as a cost-effective solution.
The key advantages laser machines offer over traditional punching machines for aluminum laser cutting are speed and quality. The laser method is also cleaner and more free of defects than mechanical options. Waterjet cutting is a hydro-based solution that is useful for 3D material cutting, but has higher operating costs than a laser cutter. Some fabricators choose waterjet for precision projects.
Thickness of material is usually a key factor that determines what type of cutting method and machine is used for aluminum laser cutting. Aluminum is a common material in manufacturing and laser cutters of some type are usually the machines chosen to cut this very flexible metal. Contact us at Serra Laser for more information on high quality and fast turnaround cutting projects.