Stainless steel is a tough metal to work with, but laser cutting is a perfect process that can fabricate it into a variety of architectural metal products. Here are some essential factors to consider for stainless steel laser cutting design and process. The recommended settings are just a starting point. Fine tuning your settings may be necessary to achieve the best results. Burrs, or rough edges, can also occur during the process. These are signs that your laser beam isn’t centered on the material. You can correct the problem by adjusting the speed or power settings, as well as adjusting the focus.

6 Essential Factors To Consider For Stainless Steel Laser Cutting Design | TBK Metal

Factors To Consider For Stainless Steel Laser Cutting Design

Preparation For Laser Cutting

Before you can start designing with your laser cutter, you must prepare the materials for cutting. Make sure the materials fit within the working area, and measure them for accuracy. Bridge the text and design elements so the laser can process them properly. Use a utility knife or painter's tape to mask the material and ensure it is sized properly. You can also use calipers to measure the focus distance between the laser and the design.

In addition, you must prepare the material for powder-coating. The laser beam can cause a layer of oxide on stainless steel edges when the material is too reflective. This layer is not visible after the laser process, but it can be removed during secondary processes. Without the proper preparation, the powder finish will not adhere properly. The process is extremely time-consuming, so be sure to prepare your materials ahead of time.

Choosing The Right Machine

Stainless steel is a versatile metal that can be cut using a variety of methods. Traditional machine cutting is an option, but newer methods such as laser cutting are gaining in popularity. Depending on the design, different stainless steel grades are better suited to specific cutting processes. Below we look at what factors should be considered before choosing a right model of machine for laser cutting. These factors can make or break the quality of your laser-cut parts.

Before deciding which model to use, check the manufacturer's instructions and specifications for the laser cutting machine. Ensure that the blades are calibrated. A wrong setting can ruin your cutting results. The machine must be able to cut different materials at different speeds. Some materials need higher speed settings than others, which means that they can cause problems during the cutting process. Also, choose a material that is compatible with your laser cutter. If you plan to cut several materials at once, you should select a laser cutter that can accommodate both the materials and your design.

Preparing The Workpiece

Preparing the workpiece for stainless steel CNC laser cutting is crucial for creating accurate and quality results. The laser beam is focused onto the workpiece, causing the contour to be cut. As the speed of the laser beam changes, it can alter the direction of the vector. This results in a rough surface. The laser beam moves quickly, leaving a ridge of metal behind the laser's point.

Before starting the cutting process, it is important to ensure the design meets specific tolerance limits to avoid clashing parts or loose components within an assembly. The diameter of the hole must be bigger than the thickness of the material. Any hole that is smaller than the thickness may result in poor dimensional accuracy and secondary processing. As a result, the hole should be at least one-half the thickness of the workpiece.

High-Pressure Nitrogen

Laser cutters use high-pressure nitrogen to purge the laser beam. Nitrogen is a dry, odorless gas with low contaminant levels. High-pressure nitrogen generators are a great way to provide high-pressure nitrogen to laser cutters. They are available in wall-mounted versions and can be purchased in bulk. The following is a list of the benefits of onsite nitrogen generators.

Oxygen and nitrogen react differently with each metal, and they can be used as assist gases to improve the laser cutting process. The amount of oxygen and nitrogen in the cutting gas must be of a certain purity, but it's not always possible to get that purity. Oxygen can also contain excessive water or oil, which can affect the cutting process. In addition, nitrogen can be more flammable, so shop managers must consider these factors when choosing a gas for their laser cutting stainless steel.

While air is an excellent choice for cutting mild steel and aluminum, nitrogen is recommended for slicing thicker materials. Nitrogen is 22 percent faster than air, and nitrogen produces a more consistent edge than air. When using air, make sure to use the highest-pressure shop air system. Also, if the metal is too thin for the laser, use argon. However, it's important to note that the high-pressure nitrogen may have a negative effect on speed and edge quality.

Laser Beam Coaxial Injection

This technique uses a laser to cut stainless steel with a coaxial gas stream. The high-power laser stream produces rapid melting and partial vaporization. Oxygen is introduced into the kerf to assist the melting process. Oxygen is similar to a torch, which helps in the removal of molten metal oxides. Insufficient gas pressure can lead to poor cutting quality and poor productivity.

This technique involves the superimposition of multiple laser beams of different wavelengths. CO2 lasers are the most commonly used for cutting nonmetals. CO2 lasers emit light with a wavelength of 10.6 um, which is appropriate for cutting nonmetals. However, not all materials can be cut with CO2 lasers, as different types of metals absorb light at a different wavelength. Thermal stress fractures are a popular method for cutting brittle materials.

The laser cutting process requires the correct gas nozzles and water channel. There are several components to a laser cutting machine. The cooling cabinet is one of the most important. Some companies use home air conditioners to cool their machines, but it is best to invest in an industrial special use air conditioner. During normal use, laser cutting machines will be damaged to various degrees. Taking care of them early will prevent major issues and save you money.

Avoiding Thermal Impact

Laser cutting is an excellent way to minimize the thermal impact on stainless steel. The laser beam is focused onto the workpiece, while a high-pressure gas jet expels the molten material. Using nitrogen, which is usually used to cut stainless steel, prevents the formation of an oxidation layer, which must be removed after the laser cutting process. The gas also prevents the formation of microstructure changes, which are typically noticeable within 130 microns of the laser cut edge. Laser-cut steel can reach microhardness levels twice that of uncut steel. Because of the absence of an exothermic oxidation reaction, nitrogen cutting generally results in a narrow kerf width. Nitrogen cutting also requires higher pressure to expel molten metal from the lower kerf.

The fiber laser is less susceptible to thermal impact. This type of laser cuts with less energy and less consumables than other types of laser cutters. A fiber laser cutter does not require nitrogen, which can cause irritation and damage to the skin and retina. Another advantage of a fiber laser is that the laser can be fully automated, which allows it to cut and sort stainless steel pieces. It is also possible to have a repeatable process. However, this process comes with a high acquisition cost and a potential financial gain from increased productivity. Unlike other gases, air is cheap to buy and the cutting ability is similar to that of nitrogen. If you are worried about the gas impact, you can also opt for a filtration system.

What Is Laser Cutting Process?

When it comes to fabricating stainless steel, there are many benefits to using laser cutting. Unlike traditional cutting methods, laser cutting can produce parts with tight tolerances and in high volumes. In addition to high precision, this method can also make multiple cuts at once, meaning less labor is needed and fewer errors. This process is also ideal for high-volume production runs, as it creates highly uniform end pieces.

6 Essential Factors To Consider For Stainless Steel Laser Cutting Design | TBK Metal

The process uses a laser device to cut materials, aiming a concentrated beam of photons at the workpiece. These beams are highly effective for cutting steel but are less efficient for cutting light or heat-conductive metals. The type of laser used depends on the material to be cut. Also, the equipment must be compatible with the materials. Laser cutting is an excellent choice for high-volume fabrication, but you should consider hiring a qualified servicer to ensure that you are getting the best results.

Why Choose Laser Cutting For Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel sheet fabrication often requires complicated, specialized cutting techniques, and the process of laser cutting is no exception. This process can produce superior cuts without the need for extensive secondary processing. However, laser cutting does produce work-hardened edges, which can be problematic in some applications. In addition, parts that require additional finishing may have to undergo surface treatments after laser cutting, which increases both the processing time and total cost. Laser cutting is an excellent option for those projects where the precision and quality of the finished part are of the utmost importance.

The high speed of laser cutting allows you to cut components without having to wait for secondary operations, which can be time-consuming and expensive. It is also possible to complete several cuts at once. This means less waste and more profits. Additionally, laser cutting is an excellent choice for a variety of stainless steel fabrication projects, as it can make both intricate and routine shapes. Further, it can perform many tasks quickly, enabling the production of high-quality parts at low costs.

In Conclusion

Using a laser to cut stainless steel does not significantly alter its magnetic permeability. However, the metal may undergo distortion as the laser beam melts it. The laser process is also more expensive than other processes because it requires more energy, and the cutting process does not involve human workers. In addition, stainless steel is expensive to buy and install, so it is important to know what to expect before purchasing a laser-cutting machine.

Laser-cutting technology entails an assist gas, which is typically nitrogen. The gas serves to prevent dross from forming, which requires further processing. Nitrogen allows for a narrow kerf width, but it lacks an exothermic oxidation reaction. Therefore, nitrogen cutting can result in a narrow kerf width. Stainless steel cuts require a higher nitrogen pressure to prevent molten metal from leaking out of the lower kerf.

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