Ideas for Cutting a Reflective Metal with a Laser Cutter
Dealing with non-ferrous reflective metals using CO2 laser technology poses a challenge to most experienced fabricators. Rather than make a mistake, some fabricators shy away from using standard laser cutters to cut reflective metals. However, the quality of laser cuts is unrivalled, and that is why you should learn how to use the machine on reflective metals safely. This article highlights tips on how to successfully and safely cut reflective metal with a CO2 laser cutter.
Use Fibre Laser Technology -- The mirrors and lenses on standard laser cutters are delicate and can be damaged when cutting reflective metal. Therefore, fabricators prefer to use fibre laser cutters. The cutters are considered a better alternative because they do not feature delicate mirrors. Therefore, you do not have to worry about carefully orientating the machine to prevent damage to the equipment parts. However, you can only use fibre laser cutting technology on thin reflective metal. If you use it on thick reflective metal, then the roughness of the cut and the speed deteriorate significantly. Consequently, you are forced to use water jet laser cutting to ensure a smooth cut.
Use the Failsafe -- When using a laser cutter to cut reflective metal, the laser beam bounces off the surface of the metal and back to the lens. If not checked, the reflected laser beam can damage the lens and, therefore, the laser machine. It is for this reason that modern metal laser cutters are equipped with a failsafe switch. Sensors within the failsafe system monitor the radiation levels reflected on the lens, and if excess amounts are detected, the system automatically shuts off. Therefore, ensure that the failsafe system is working correctly before powering up a laser cutter.
Slow Cutting Speed -- One characteristic of the reflective metal is that the reflectivity decreases if the metal warms up and drops considerably once the material melts. Also, it makes little sense to rush the beam across the metal before the surface warms up adequately. Therefore, ensure that you first warm up the material you are working on to reduce its reflectivity. It reduces the chances of damaging the mirrors and lenses of the laser cutting machine. When you power on the laser cutter, start at a slow rate to allow the laser beam sufficient time to warm up the section being cut. Once a hole is pierced, then the metal is warm enough and you can start moving the beam to begin cutting. Most importantly, keep the cutting speed slow and steady to achieve a non-reflective operation.
For more information on laser cutting, contact a manufacturing plant.