Nowadays, laser cutting machines have never been more productive, but that doesn’t mean that the cut quality is always up to standards.
Obviously, edge quality is completely objective so there is no way to accurately measure it, but there are elements that can have a significant effect on these results.
With the increase in demand for cutting thicker materials, high-powered laser cutters with improved technology have been manufactured; unfortunately, cut quality has sometimes been compromised. Because of this, laser-grade materials have been produced for fabricators so the laser can cut a consistently smooth edge through denser materials. As well as this, the condition of the material that is being cut has to be considered: are there any deep scratches? Is there any paint or rust on the material? These are factors that could negatively affect cut quality.
The advancement of high-powered laser cutting machines means that the nozzles need to advance too, therefore coaxial nozzles have been created. The angles of the cone inside the double nozzle ensures a smooth and consistent flow of gas, with little turbulence, which produces high quality edges. The type, condition and alignment of the nozzle is also important; if the nozzle is dirty, worn or scratched, doesn’t have the correct exit diameter, or if the laser is not in the centre of the nozzle, the machine will not cut equally.
The power levels and mirror conditions of the machinery can have a huge impact on laser beam quality, which consequently has a knock-on effect on cut quality. Clean edges will be spoiled if there are low power levels and this could be for a number of reasons: the laser needs to warm up, needs tuning, needs servicing, or the helium supply is running low. Also, the steering mirrors always need to be clean and the alignment should be square and central in order for beam to be accurate. The better the beam quality, the better the edge quality.
By keeping up with the evolving laser technology and the regular maintenance of the machinery, it is possible to optimise and sustain high cut quality for all materials and products.