Laser Cutting

JK Lasers' Nd:YAG and fiber lasers can be used for cutting metals, graphite composites, as well as some ceramics and plastics. eCO2 lasers are used for laser cutting paper, wood, plastics, fabrics, glass and other non-metals.

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Laser Cutting Benefits

  • Applicable to a wide range of materials and thickness;
  • Narrow kerf widths;
  • High speeds;
  • High repeatability;
  • Reliable;
  • Easily automated and programmable;
  • Flexibility in changeovers;
  • Reduced tooling costs and reduced set-up times;
  • Non-contact process (no tooling wear or breakage, minimal material distortion);
  • Versatile (the same tool can be used for laser drilling and laser welding);
  • Capacity for high degree of beam manipulation (true 3D cutting).

The Laser Cutting Process

For laser cutting, the beam must be focused by a lens to a small spot size, typically 25-100µm in diameter for fine cutting and 100um to 300µm diameter for thicker section cutting. Coaxial gas is delivered just above the laser focus by a nozzle that surrounds the laser beam. This helps to keep the optics clean and improves the cutting process by pushing vaporised and liquified material out through the kerf. Gases such as oxygen and air are used to promote the cutting of ferrous alloys and cellulose materials. Air is often used with plastics and fabrics. High-pressure inert gas is used when cutting some metals to leave an unoxidised edge with little dross.

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Fiber Lasers

The fiber laser's beam quality allows very fine laser cutting with kerf widths possible of less than 20µm in thin section metals of <200µm thickness (foils). With such a fine kerf, cutting speeds of 10m/min are possible in a range of metals, ceramics and semiconductor materials such as silicon. With the possibility of modulating the beam at high frequency and fast response times, high speed laser cutting of small features is possible with very high accuracy and repeatability.

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Our multi-kiloWatt fiber lasers make it possible to cut much thicker materials. For example, the JK2000FL can be used with different diameter processing fibers from 100µm to 300µm for cutting and welding sheet metal. It can cut 15mm thick low carbon steel (LCS), 6mm aluminium alloys and 10mm stainless steel (304SS).

View our sheet metal cutting brochure here.

Pulsed Nd:YAG Laser

Pulsed Nd:YAG lasers are used for medium to heavy section cutting. The higher-powered pulsed JK Lasers have kerf widths down to about 100µm and can cut thicknesses over 25mm. Pulsed Nd:YAG lasers can perform very high tolerance cutting because of their high peak power and low average power, which efficiently vaporises a lot of material and keeps the total heat input low. Cutting tolerances in materials less than 1mm can be better than 10µm. In thicker materials the tolerance is in the 25µm range.

Continuous Wave (CW) Nd:YAG Laser

In metals, CW and Super Modulated JK Nd:YAG lasers can cut kerf widths in the 250-300µm range and at high speeds up to 10m/min. Cutting with these lower peak power lasers depends on the average power for speed. Since these lasers are not limited by pulse-to-pulse overlap during cutting, they can cut thinner materials at a higher rate.

Some of these laser models have a super modulation feature that can significantly improve cutting speed when processing zinc-coated steels and aluminum alloys or when cutting at an angle to the surface.

Benefits of Using Fiber Delivery on your Nd:YAG Laser

For fine cutting with a kerf in the 20-80µm range most tasks require beam delivery with mirrors from the laser to the lens. For kerf widths in the 80-400µm range fiber optic delivery can be employed. Special fiber optic delivery focus heads incorporate coaxial gas nozzles and even auto-focus control for cutting surfaces with varying heights or when robotic manipulation is used.

Let Us Help You Choose

JK Lasers has specialist applications centres to help you develop a laser cutting solution for you. We can help determine the appropriate laser source, beam delivery and cutting parameters. We can also help with fixture development, custom optical systems, controls integration and the production of test pieces.