Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials, and is typically used for industrial
manufacturing applications, but is also starting to be used by schools, small businesses, and hobbyists. Laser
cutting works by directing the output of a high power laser most commonly through optics. The laser optics and
CNC (computer numerical control) are used to direct the material or the laser beam generated. A typical commercial
laser for cutting materials would involve a motion control system to follow a CNC or G-code of the pattern to be
cut onto the material. The focused laser beam directed at the material, which then either melts, burns, vaporizes
away, or is blown away by a jet of gas,leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish. Industrial laser cutters are
used to cut flat-sheet material as well as structural and piping materials.
There are many different methods in cutting using lasers, with different types used to cut different material.
Some of the methods are vaporization, melt and blow, melt blow and burn, thermal stress cracking, scribing, cold
cutting and burning stabilized laser cutting.
In vaporization cutting the focused beam heats the surface of the material to boiling point and generates a
keyhole. The keyhole leads to a sudden increase in absorptivity quickly deepening the hole. As the hole deepens
and the material boils,vapor generated erodes the molten walls blowing ejecta out and further enlarging the hole.
Non melting material such as wood, carbon and thermoset plastics are usually cut by this method.
Melt and blow
Melt and blow or fusion cutting uses high-pressure gas to blow molten material from the cutting area, greatly
decreasing the power requirement. First the material is heated to melting point then a gas jet blows the molten
material out of the kerf avoiding the need to raise the temperature of the material any further. Materials cut with
this process are usually metals.
Thermal stress cracking
Brittle materials are particularly sensitive to thermal fracture, a feature exploited in thermal stress cracking.
A beam is focused on the surface causing localized heating and thermal expansion. This results in a crack that
can then be guided by moving the beam. The crack can be moved in order of m/s. It is usually used in cutting of
Stealth dicing of silicon wafers
The separation of microelectronic chips as prepared in semiconductor device fabrication from silicon wafers
may be performed by the socalled stealth dicing process, which operates with a pulsed YAG laser, the wavelength of
which is well adopted to the electronic band gap of silion.
Also called "burning stabilized laser gas cutting", "flame cutting". Reactive cutting is like oxygen torch cutting
but with a laser beam as the ignition source. Mostly used for cutting carbon steel in thicknesses over 1 mm. This
process can be used to cut very thick steel plates with relatively little laser power.
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