Laser cutters, varieties and how they work

Laser Cutter

Laser cutters are the equipment used to cut or engrave pieces in different materials using a beam of amplified and concentrated light.

Types of cnc laser machines

There are different types of laser cutting machines. The main differences between them are the way in which it is generated and how the laser  beam is transmitted, the powers in which they work, the wave frequencies and the materials that affect it.

We are going to describe 5 types of laser cutters and laser engravers machines. that we commercialize in BuchiCNC:

CO2 laser cutters

This equipment works mainly on three axes called X axis, Y axis and Z axis. The X axis represents the width of the work area, the Y axis represents the depth of the work area and the Z axis represents the height. The working area ranges from 30 x 20 centimeters to 2 x 3 meters.

The optical system of the laser cutters is formed by one or two CO2 gas tubes, a set of 3 mirrors and a focusing lens. When powered by a source of high tension, the tube produces a laser beam that is reflected by the mirrors to the head. There is a focusing lens that concentrates the laser beam at a point called focal point where it has the smallest diameter and the greatest heat effect.

Accessories

These equipment needs 3 accessories for its operation:

  1. A tube cooler, which can be a chiller or a water pump whose function is to circulate water inside the tube.
  2. A dry air compressor that injects air into the beak and cools the lens, It cleans the cut and pushes the smoke to improve the extraction,
  3. An extractor that absorbs the produced smoke and takes it through a pipe to the outside.

Maintenance and service

The maintenance of this type of machines is moderate and the duration of their supplies is convenient as it is amortized in the short term.
To keep the equipment in optimal condition it is necessary to:
1. clean the optical components,
2. lubricate the guides,
3. align the mirrors,
4. align the table
5. maintain the general cleaning of the laser cutting machine in optimal condition to achieve good quality work.

CO2 Laser Engravers

The laser engravers require the same components and care as the laser cutters above.

Mixed laser cutters equipment

These equipments work in the same way as conventional CO2 laser cutting machines with the difference that they have high powers that allow the laser cutting of some fine metals up to a thickness of 1.5 mm. For example, stainless steel, carbon steel, sheet metal.
To achieve the laser cutting, oxygen is supplied to the beam. This consists of replacing the air in the peak by industrial oxygen so that when cutting the slag produced is properly evacuated and the cut comes out clean.

This type of laser cutter usually includes a technology called auto following. It allows to automatically copy the imperfections of the sheets and makes the head rise and fall so that the focal length is maintained.
In addition these equipment can have an axis of additional height since the head is also motorized.

Accessories

This equipment needs four accessories to function.

  1. A tube cooler, which can be a chiller or a water pump whose function is to circulate water inside the tube.
  2. A dry air compressor that injects air into the beak and cools the lens, It cleans the cut and pushes the smoke to improve the extraction,
  3. An extractor that absorbs the produced smoke and takes it through a pipe to the outside.
  4. an industrial oxygen tube with its respective manometer

Metal laser engravers machines

They are used for engravings of all kinds of metal parts in industries such as autoparts, jewelry and others. For Instance, they allow to record images, patterns, texts and include a software prepared to make all kinds of codes (bars, QR) with automatic numbering.
These machines are not pantographs, the head does not move on axes. To reflect the laser beam they use a system called galvanometer which consists of internal mirrors that move automatically and carry multiple laser beams on the metal.
The working area of these machines is usually reduced (10 x 10, 20 x 20 or 30 x 30 cm) since they are aimed to make engravings of small dimensions.
The speed of engraving is much faster than in a CO2 laser machine (up to 90%). and include an activation pedal to release the hands of the operator and that the task of positioning the material or piece is faster.

Fiber laser cutters

A fiber laser cutting machine are used by large industries that work in the cutting of metallic pieces of great thicknesses and / or cuts in materials that dissipate heat quickly, for example silver, aluminum and copper. The transmission system of the laser beam is fiber optic which allows to work with much more power at high speeds.
Maintenance is minimal but equipment costs are high.

Cutting and engraving files preparation

The procedure starts with a file with a certain design. It can be a file of the type vector or a file of the bitmap type.

The file with the design is imported and configured in software that is included with each machine. This process is called cutting file programming and consists of configuring the parameters that tell the machine what to do. Among the most common configurations, for example, you must select if you want to make a laser cut or laser engrave, configure power and speed of advance according to the thickness of the material.
Once the programming of the laser cut file is finished, it can be executed directly or it can be downloaded to the memory of the machine to process it later or to repeat the work without having to use the computer again.
“It should be noted that some of the machines that cut and engrave with laser can modify the parameters from a control panel, it is used to position the head where the laser beam comes out and also can make adjustments of the power and speed.”

File formats for laser cutters

Vectors are files that are made with programs such as CorelDraw, Illustrator, Autocad, and many more and are used for printing since they work in scales of real measurements and can be scaled without losing accuracy. Example of vector extensions: CDR, AI, DXF, EPS, DST, PLT, DWG.
Bitmap files are files that are made in programs such as Paint, Photoshop, Photo Paint, are commonly seen in visual media through screens. Example of bitmap extensions: JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG.

Home
FAQ
Customers