Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a manufacturing process that uses a thin, focused laser beam to cut materials into special designs, patterns, and shapes. This non-contact, thermal-based manufacturing process is ideal for a variety of materials including wood, glass, paper, metal, plastic and gemstone.
Today, laser cutting has found a home in industries such as electronics, medicine, aerospace, automotive, and semiconductors. One of the most common applications is cutting metals such as steel, aluminum, tungsten, brass, nickel –because lasers offer clean cuts and smooth finishes. Lasers are also used to cut plastics, ceramics, silicones and other non-metal metals.

Laser Types

  • CO2 Lasers
The cutting is done using electrically-stimulated CO2. The CO2 laser is produced in a mixture that consists of other gases like nitrogen and helium. CO2 lasers emit a 10.6- micrometer wavelength, and a CO2 laser has enough energy to pierce through a thicker material compared to a fiber laser with the same power. These lasers also give a smoother finish when used to cut thicker materials.
Materials: Glass, some plastics, some foams, leather, paper-based products, wood, acrylic
  • Fiber Lasers

Cutting is done using fiberglass. The lasers originate from a “seed laser” before being amplified via special fibers. Fiber lasers are in the same category with disk lasers and nd:YAG, and belong to a family called “solid-state lasers”. Compared to a gas laser, fiber lasers do not have moving parts, are two to three times more energy-efficient, and are capable of cutting reflective materials without fear of back reflections. These lasers can work with both metal and non-metal materials.

Materials: Plastics and metals
  • Crystal Lasers
Crystal lasers generate beams from nd:YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate) and nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet). They can cut through thicker and stronger materials because they have smaller wavelengths compared to C02 lasers, which means they have a higher
intensity. But since they are high power, their parts wear out quickly.
Materials: Plastics, metals, and some types of ceramics

Benefits of Laser Cutting

  • High precision and accuracy
  • High production speed
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Optimal material utilization
  • Intricate part cutting
  • No risk of contamination (since it’s a contactless process)
  • Minimal distortion on parts due to a small heat-affected zone

Applications for Robotic Laser Cutting

Not all applications are suitable for robotic laser cutting. Some key factors to consider are:
  • Some parts have complex shapes. These parts may have ideal robotic applications, provided enough access space exists for the cutting head. High-volume flat-sheet cutting can be done more cost-effectively by a dedicated 2-D laser cutting machine. However, if both 2-D and 3-D cutting are required, a robotic laser cutting system can be suitable.
  • Parts such as hydroformed tube sections used in automotive frames that have closed sections where holes can’t be punched because of limited access to the back of the material are another candidate for a robotic system.
  • The part production volume should be high to cost the robotic laser cutting equipment and fixtures.
  • For most robotic laser cutting applications, aluminum and steel parts should be 0.5 to 5 millimeters thick. Cutting thickness capacity depends on laser performance and power; for example, aluminum requires more power than steel to cut the same thickness. As the power of the laser increases, so does the cost of the laser generator.
  • Material coatings also play a role in cutting. For instance, zinc-coated steel can reduce cutting speed, while anodized aluminum can improve cutting speed.
  • Part location must be repeatable and allow access to all areas to be cut.
Using robots for robotic laser cutting creates substantial cost-saving benefits while providing more accurate cutting and flexibility. Eurobotik’s robotic laser cutting solutions are custom-tailored to your unique specifications and project expectations.
Contact Eurobotik today and let us develop a custom robotic laser cutting solution.

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