Fabrication involving laser cutting is one of the widest applications of laser technology in manufacturing industry today. CO2 and fibre based laser cutting tools permit a wide range of organic and non-organic materials to be cut accurately and effectively across small and large production runs. Setup costs are continually being driven downwards which means that more and more industries can benefit from the technology.
Sheet metal can be cut as a single component or as part of a much larger production run using today’s new generation CO2 lasers. Laser cutting metal provides a higher quality of finish that generally requires less post production cleaning and it is also capable of providing highly detailed cutting. Products produced in this way suffer less from the effects of heat around the cut area whilst computerized controls lead to high levels of consistency as large production runs are cut.
Plastics can now be widely cut using laser technology. Acrylic plastics lend themselves very well to the laser cutting process. Acrylic was actually one of the first materials to be commercially cut using lasers. It is unique because it vaporises totally when exposed to the heat of the laser. There is no melt or drip to deal with which means that post production requires very little effort. Acrylic plastics can also be engraved using similar lasers with provides designers with a multitude of fabrication solutions. Most plastics can be cut with a laser but care should be taken as some produce dangerous fumes when being combusted by the laser.
Laser cut wood is in demand by a number of manufacturers these days. Wood is expensive and the accurate cutting of large number s of components can be arranged to give the best possible yield using laser cutting. Components cut can vary from intricate stencils to decorative panels. When cut as part of an integrated fabrication system the resulting pieces can be highly complicated but delivered with high levels of accuracy.
Laser cutting from Garcross systems is used when high levels of accuracy are required. Materials such as surgical stainless steel can be cut on an individual basis to produce medical implants such as stents. These devices must be produced to very high specifications and the automated control systems that accompany modern laser cutters create components that require very little finishing as they are burr free.
Traditionally the benefits of laser cutting were only available to organisations prepared to invest significant sums in large laser systems. Investment costs meant that only the largest customers could expect to benefit from the high production values of items produced in this way. Today, laser technology is being made available on a much wider basis as smaller, desktop devices are now widely available for the same price as a good laser printer. Artisan industries can now benefit from these devices as they integrate very closely with desktop CAD/CAM packages allowing them to produce individual components in a wide range of materials.