Laser Cutting – Metal, Steel, Titanium
Process of Cutting Metal
The process of cutting metal at PCI goes pretty simply actually for somebody who has never seen it done before, but you end up just taking a standard material which for us it’s very stiff types of metal, put it onto a C&C controlled machine which is our lasers, that machine then indexes that material into it and the process begins.
That process is in more detail defined as a power source creating a light beam, mixed with an inert gas which is pressurized and then it blows through that material and essentially evaporates it.
Some of the very readily available metals we have here at PCI range from a regular carbon steel, varying grades obviously but carbon steel, stainless steel and we have aluminum. Then we get in to some more exotic materials like the titanium, that’s is not a heavy user for us but it is something we are perfectly capable of handling.
Titanium, cutting titanium verses stainless it is a lot, you use a lot of the same techniques for that, use the same type of gases. Titanium though is a little tougher, you can’t cut quite so much titanium as you could if you are doing stainless.
If you are cutting steels you are going to use oxygen you are not going to use nitrogen, you are going to cut them usually goes a little bit faster, it doesn’t cost as much because you are using oxygen as an assist gas instead of nitrogen but that is mainly the differences.
Some of the thinner materials we use are round the 25,000 to 30,000 thin as far as a minimum go all the way up to 3 quarters of an inch, so a lot of our customers do not realize the range that we have when we talk about laser cutting of metals.
Some of the tolerances of our machines are capable of handling which would be true position of plus and minus 4000 and repeatability of plus and minus 2000. So obviously those tolerances get bigger with the certain materials as certain materials require different tolerance ranges. The thicker the material the less tolerance you have that we are able to hold but the thinner materials we have, pretty tight tolerance amongst other things.
One thing I can remember off the top of my head, we had a piece of material thinner than 25000 square. It actually had to be taped to a piece of cardboard to allow it to stay stable enough for us to cut through it. The gas pressure actually vibrated the material that bad that we were actually losing the cut. So by us being able to take that and tape it to a thicker piece of cardboard and then cut through it was where we were able to complete that part for the customer.
I just think some of the memorable things are, some of the unique art work that we do here, how detailed we can get cutting this stuff without it actually burning away and you can’t make it out I think that is pretty interesting.