Laser cutting is one of the most accurate ways of cutting sheet material to produce parts. Industries prefer laser cutting nowadays due to the unparalleled accuracy and energy efficiency.
Prolean’s laser cutting services use the best CNC laser cutters to produce high-precision laser cut parts with tight tolerances.
What is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is a sheet metal fabrication process in which a CNC machine concentrates an intense laser on sheet material to remove the material with laser heat. The cuts made by laser cutters are accurate and match tight tolerance requirements that few other cutting processes can meet.
Laser cutting can be used for one-off jobs as well as small to medium size batches. Laser-cut parts are common in industries nowadays because of the widespread adoption of CNC laser cutters in workshops around the world.
How Does Laser Cutting Work?
Lasers are nothing but high-power beams of light created with help of stimulated emission of radiation. Mirrors and lenses concentrate the beam of light to create a single point which possesses an immense amount of energy. In laser cutting, machines use this point to remove material and cut the sheet metal.
Laser cutting machines are CNC machines with a laser head instead of tool holder. The laser moves according to the commands fed to the CNC machine for given part design. The power of the laser also changes depending upon application and thickness of the sheet. The sheet metal is clamped on the machine bench and kept flat. The laser just follows the path programmed by engineers and the laser cuts the sheet metal in the process.
Advantages of Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is extremely precise. The cuts made by laser cutting have accuracies as good as 0.002 inch (0.05 mm). They have unmatched reproducibility compared to other cutting processes. The thickness of the sheet doesn’t have to be uniform.
Heat affected zone in laser cutting is smaller than other cutting processes which keeps the properties of material largely unchanged. Laser cutting is faster and more energy-efficient than any manual cutting process.
Materials Available for Laser Cutting
Prolean offers a wide variety of materials for Laser cutting. Please see the list for a sample of the materials we work with.
If you require a material not in this list, please do get in touch as it is likely we can source it for you.
Our standard finish is an “as machined” finish. It has a surface roughness of 3.2 μm (126 μin). All sharp edges are removed and parts are deburred. Tool marks are visible.
A finishing CNC machining operation can be applied to the part to reduce its surface roughness. The standard smoothing surface roughness (Ra) is 1.6 μm (64 μin). Machine marks are less evident but still visible.
Brushing is produced by polishing the metal with grit resulting in a unidirectional satin finish. Not advisable for applications where corrosion resistance is required.
Passivation is a treatment method to protect the metal from corroding, it generates a more uniform formation of a passive surface that is less likely to react with air and cause corrosion chemically.
Type III anodizing provides excellent corrosion and wear resistance, suitable for functional applications.
Electropolishing is an electrochemical process used to polish, passivate and deburr metal parts. It is useful to reduce surface roughness.
Chromate conversion coating（Alodine/Chemfilm） is used to increase the corrosion resistance of metal alloys while maintaining their conductive properties.
Bead blasting adds a uniform matte or satin surface finish on a machined part, removing the tool marks. This is used mainly for visual purposes and comes in several different grits which indicate the size of the bombarding pellets.
Powder coating is a strong, wear-resistant finish that is compatible with all metal materials and can be combined with bead blasting to create parts with smooth and uniform surfaces and excellent corrosion resistance.
Black oxide is a conversion coating used to improve corrosion resistance and minimize light reflection.
Choose The Right Finish For Your Material
Different surface finishes can be applied to different materials. Find below a quick cheat sheet of surface finish and material compatibility.
|Smooth machining (1.6 Ra μm/64 Ra μin)||All plastics and metals|
|Bead blasting||All metals|
|Powder coating||All metals|
|Anodizing clear (type II)||Aluminum alloys|
|Anodizing color (type II)||Aluminum alloys|
|Anodizing hardcoat (type III)||Aluminum alloys|
|Brushing + Electropolishing (0.8 Ra μm/32 Ra μin)||All metals|
|Black oxide||Stainless steel and copper alloys|
|Chromate conversion coating||Aluminum and Copper alloys|