Laser cutting is a two-dimensional machining process in which material removal is obtained by focusing
a highly intense laser beam on the workpiece. The laser beam heat subsequently melts/vaporizes the workpiece
throughout the thickness or depth of the material thus creating a cutting front. The molten material is expelled from
the cutting front by a pressurized assist gas jet. The assist gas, in addition to facili-tating the material removal by melt
expulsion, may also help in enhanced material removal through chemical reactions such as oxidation of the material.
The cutting of the material then proceeds by the movement of the cutting front across the sur-face of the material. This
is carried out by the motion of either focused beam and/or the workpiece relative to each other. Laser cutting is a high-speed,
repeatable, and reliable method for a wide variety of material types and thicknesses producing very narrow and clean-cut
width. The process is particularly suited as a fully or semiautomated cutting process for the high production volumes.
One of the first industrial applications of laser cuttingusing 200 W laser is cutting of slots in die boards. The lasers are
now capable of cutting a wide range of metallic materials such as steels, superalloys, copper, aluminum, and brass, and
nonmetallic materials such as ceramic, quartz, plastic, rubber, wood, and cloth.
Some of the advantages of laser cutting over the conventional machining tech-niques can be listed as:
1.Noncontact process: The workpiece need not to be clamped or centered on the precise fixtures as in conventional
machining. Accurate positioning of the workpiece on the X–Y table with defined direction of cut can be easily obtained during
laser cutting thus facilitating the machining of flimsy and flexible materials.
2. High cutting speeds: Laser cutting is a fast process. The typical cutting speed for 4 mm carbon steels with a 1,250 W
CO2 lasers is 3 m/min.
3. Fine and precise cut dimensions: Laser cutting can be carried out with a very narrow kerf width (~0.1 mm) such that the
process can be used for fine and profile cutting.
4 Better quality of cuts: Laser heats and melts the material in a localized fashion. This in combination with the melt expulsions
during cutting minimizes the heat- affected zones and the thermal stresses.
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