Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is gaining popularity as the strength of a laser is more efficient and creates cleaner cuts than a non-laser cutting machine. Laser cutting can be done using a laser marker. Learn about laser cutting, the process that uses laser light to cut a target, through various marking examples.

Basic Principles of Cutting Using Laser Markers

Gate cutting

Lasers can cut materials by melting or evaporating a target surface, thus producing a cut. Generally, non-laser cutting machines require a die or blade. These contact-based methods run the risk of distortion during processing. Laser cutting is non-contact, so the risk of distortion is minimal. This makes laser cutting suitable for processing targets like thin plates and films.

Laser cutting should be done with a high-powered laser to prevent damage. There are two different lasers that can be used for cutting; a CO2 laser or a hybrid laser. Taking advantage of the strengths of each laser when laser cutting is critical to success. Using a CO2 laser is better for general processing of film and plastic, while a hybrid YVO4 laser is better for thin processing of metals. These laser types can be used separately for different projects or together in one project for different parts of a material.

Laser Cutting Machine

3-Axis CO2 Laser Marker ML-Z Series

The 3-Axis CO2 Laser Marker ML-Z Series is one of KEYENCE’s laser marking machines that can be used for laser cutting. The laser processes CO2 in a tube, then generates plasma between a reflexive mirror and an output coupler. The plasma then hits materials and the material absorbs the light.

The ML-Z Series uses 3-Axis technology and a CO2 laser to cut surfaces smoothly. The ML-Z can do a variety of cutting such as sheathing cutting, gate cutting, film cutting, and hole cutouts. With the Z-MAP function, any shape can be imported into the laser marker even if it is unconventional.

The thin beam model of the ML-Z is a smaller spot diameter than conventional lasers or die and blades. Because of the small spot diameter, the ML-Z can use greater power density. In turn, the power density cuts materials seamlessly without distortion or ragged marks. Additionally, the ML-Z’s short wavelength allows for even higher absorption, which is especially necessary for materials like resin.

3-Axis Hybrid Laser Marker MD-X Series

The 3-Axis Hybrid MD-X Series is another one of KEYENCE’s laser marking machines that can be used for cutting. The MD-X uses 3-Axis technology with a fibre and a YVO4 laser.

The YVO4 laser provides a high-quality beam while the fibre laser provides a high-output beam. These lasers combine to make a high-powered laser that processes materials seamlessly and efficiently.

Because the MD-X is a hybrid laser, the peak power is twice that of a conventional YVO4 laser. The high peaked power with the short pulse minimises heat damage. The minimal heat damage results in damage-free processing with sensitive or thin materials.

The MD-X can process a variety of materials, such as resin, metals, and thin film.

Laser Cutting System

KEYENCE’s laser cutting machines use patented systems with features like the 3-Axis control and autofocus to make cutting more efficient and precise.

The 3-Axis control reaches an area of 300mm x 300mm, which is optimal for large production. Since the 3-Axis control standardises the target area, the laser cutter can work on a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials without inconsistency.

The autofocus technology allows for efficiency as it removes the need for physical realignment and tracks the positional and focal deviation of each target. While tracking, the marker automatically adjusts to ensure consistency for manufacturing. The focal distance adjustment allows for flexibility with changes in product sizes, 3D shapes, and material inconsistencies.