Whether cutting sheet metal or thick plate, the result from a laser cutter is precise. When a company has a need for both quantity and quality, the laser cutter is a strong solution for cutting thick metal. Here are key factors to keep in mind to produce high quality results from thick plate cutting.
How Material Quality Affects Cutting
Quality of the metal plays a major role in the quality of the cut, even on a laser cutter. The material must be consistent from its surface condition to its internal elements in order to produce quality parts. Regardless of the type of metal being cut it should have a consistent quality throughout the thick plate. The material needs to be smooth and free of rust, scale and debris. Laser cutters can cut metal cleanly with a thickness up to about 1.00 inch. Beyond this amount crucial factors come into play that involve the quality of the material, gas purity and beam quality.
Why Assisted Gas Quality Matters
Thick steel cutting involves using assisted gas in the vaporation and removal of molten material after a cut. The purity of the oxygen or nitrogen is crucial to the speed at which metal is vaporized and discarded. Liquid oxygen usually provides high-purity, whereas oxygen from a compressed cylinder often yields low purities. One of the key concerns when using oxygen is to avoid heat buildup on the thick plate. The thickness of the plate determines how much heat is required to produce quality parts. When programming of the part is done, it is sometimes best to stagger the holes or lines. This controls and dissipates the heat throughout the sheet.
Based on the material and thickness of metal being cut, the laser cutter can automatically choose from a library of multiple cutting specifications. The machine adjusts itself based on the material being cut, but the operator maintains control of the beam configuration. The quality of the beam is affected by the number of optics and modules in the system. Increasing the number of these components lowers the quality of the beam.
Benefits of Laser Automation
Laser cutters are often favored in the manufacturing process due to the fact they can be used to automate processes, including cutting thick metal plates. New high-powered lasers are used to cut heavy-gauge plates even with complex geometric shapes. Laser cutters can be automated to cut gears and sprockets in high volume without any special setup. They can be programed to cut holes the depth of material thickness. One of the most valuable benefits of laser machines is that they can be programed to produce thick plate cutting for hours without assistance from an operator.
If you’re a manufacturer or metal smith looking for a company to successfully employ thick plate cutting for you, contact us today at Serra Laser and Waterjet.