Precision Explained: The Laser Cutting Process

In the field of steel and mild steel fabrication, laser cutting is a pivotal process for achieving precision and efficiency. This advanced technology uses focussed laser beams to carefully carve through various materials, ranging from metals and plastics to wood and composites. At QSM Fabrication, our core fabrication services include high-quality laser cutting, 3D laser cutting, and smart bending. This blog post highlights the intricacies of laser systems and the laser-cutting process, and how this technology continues to revolutionise the field of fabrication. 


Generation of Laser Beam

Laser cutting is a detailed process that creates a precisely focussed beam of light within a specialised apparatus known as a laser resonator. Within this resonator, the chosen medium — be it gas, crystal, or semiconductor — undergoes a transformation as its atoms or molecules become energised. This energisation of atoms results in the emission of photons. 

As the medium responds to the injection of energy from lasers, the emitted photons concentrate, forming a laser beam with advanced properties. This light beam becomes a highly concentrated, monochromatic, and directional force with the qualities required by materials used by lasers for precision cutting.


Amplification and Focussing

In this intricate process, the initial light particles, and photons move across specialised mirrors within the resonator, undergoing optical amplification to generate additional photons. This movement of photons creates a robust laser beam. The laser beam then traverses through a precisely designed system of mirrors and lenses, converging into a point of intense energy. The combination of these components ensures the full speed and effectiveness capabilities of the laser system. These capabilities can be applied to various applications ranging from scientific and industry research to medical procedures, machine, and fabrication services.


Material Interaction 

Upon contact with the cutting material, such as steel, aluminium, or mild steel, the laser beam causes an interaction beyond the physical encounter. In response to the laser beam’s energy, the cutting material undergoes a series of processes tuned to its characteristics. These processes may include localised heating, vaporisation, or even chemical transformations, depending on the nature of the material. This connection between the laser beam and the material is the basis of laser cutting technology, enabling precise material processing across many industries.


Melting, Vaporisation, and Ejection

The absorbed energy from lasers causes the material to undergo various processes, depending on the material’s properties and the laser’s parameters. The materials’ reactions can range and include:

  • Melting: Some materials undergo a phase transition, melting as they absorb the laser energy.
  • Vaporisation: In high-energy scenarios, the material may skip the melting phase and transition directly from a solid to a vapour.
  • Ejection: Simultaneously, a controlled jet of gas, often referred to as the assist gas, is deployed. This assists in removing molten or vapourised material, ensuring a clear cutting path.

Cutting Path

Guided by a computer numerical control (CNC) system, the laser follows a pre-programmed path mirroring the specifications outlined in the digital design file. This level of precision, extending beyond accuracy, is the backbone for QSM Fabrication’s ability to offer solutions such as smart bending, 3D laser cutting, and complex fabrication services. 


Fine Control and Precision

The CNC system orchestrates the laser’s movements, transforming the machine and manufacturing process. As the laser system follows the programmed path, it executes detailed cuts, navigating sharp corners, empty holes, tight radii, and intricate patterns with finesse. This ability ensures the reproduction of digital designs and opens avenues for additional possibilities for steel fabricators.


Thermal Effects

Depending on the material and laser parameters, there may be a localised, heat-affected zone (HAZ) around the cut. This small region experiences thermal effects, such as changes in hardness or microstructure, introducing an additional layer of consideration to the laser cutting process. Engineers and steel fabricators must tailor their approach based on the material characteristics when this occurs. This ensures precise cuts for steel fabricators and the preservation of material properties. 


Completed Cut

As the laser follows its programmed path, it systematically cuts through the material. This process enables a clean and precise cut and minimises the formation of burrs or rough edges on the finished steel product. The controlled and gradual nature of the laser’s action contributes to the look of the steel in the final cut while reducing the cost of the production and post-processing requirements.


Safety and Ventilation

When laser cutting, safety is paramount. Proper ventilation and stringent safety measures must be met during cutting operations. This ensures the removal of fumes and particles generated in the process, safeguarding the well-being of operators and maintaining operational integrity. 


Partnerships in Precision Fabrication

At QSM Fabrication, our commitment goes beyond offering laser cutting services; we provide a partnership that surpasses conventional fabrication services. Our approach is not just cost-effective, with accurate lead times and solutions-driven processes, but it is a testament to our innovation and expertise. Visit our website for more information, and trust QSM Fabrication to be your partner in precision.

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