Laser cutting is a precision process in which metals of extreme hardness are cut by using a concentrated laser beam. Laser cutting allows you to cut complex shapes, forms and contours out of various types of material such as plywood, plastics, ceramics, mylars and cardboards. Usually, laser cutting is employed for through-hole or through form-cutting. The process produces some amount of heat as it melts the material that is in the path of the laser beam. Laser cutting is usually distortion free and produces an almost net shape.
Laser cutting machines are hooked up to a computer with a CAD program on it. The program houses the template for what the laser machine will cut. The item that has to be cut is placed on a honeycomb material which enables the laser beam to shine through. The CAD program directs the laser and small mirrors are used to guide the beam to where the material has to be cut. The temperature of the beam is controlled by nitrogen gas. The gas is used to contain the burning areas when flammable material is being cut.
While laser cutting is used on many types of material it works best on metals such as stainless steel and carbon. Metals such as aluminum and copper reflect the light and conduct the heat, which means that more powerful lasers are needed.
When holes or deep parts are cut, a small amount of taper is produced. Parts can be stacked together to maximize the productivity and economics. Compared to other types of cutting processes, very little burr is produced in laser cutting and this will cut down on the time that is usually needed for deburring. In metals, the edges that are laser cut may be case hardened. If required, further lapping may be done for the edges.
Since laser beams are designed to cut through steel and other types of hard materials they can also cut off the operator's hands and limbs, so you have to be extremely careful when laser cutting and make sure that you wear the correct protective clothing, safety gear and eye protection.