Laser cutting is one of the biggest applications of lasers in materials processing. They are used in cutting a variety of materials such as metals, nonmetals and organics. The wavelength, power, beam quality and spot size are some of the parameters that determine the cutting dynamics. Pulsed lasers are used for fine cutting of thin metals and CW lasers are used for cutting wide range of material thickness.
Ytterbium fiber lasers operating at the 1070 nm wavelength are perfect for laser cutting. The operating wavelength, multikilowatt power, good beam quality, wide operating power range, power stability, small spot size are some of the qualities the fiber lasers offer for most cutting applications. Fiber lasers have wide dynamic operating power range and the beam focus and its position remain constant, even when the laser power is changed, allowing consistent processing results every time. A wide range of spot sizes can be achieved by changing the optics configuration. These features enable the end user to choose an appropriate power density for cutting various materials and wall thickness.
The high mode quality and small spot size of the fiber laser with optimized pulses facilitate cutting of intricate features in thin material. This pulsed mode-cutting results in minimal slag and HAZ, which are very critical to many micro-machining applications. High power density associated with small spot sizes of the fiber laser also translates into faster cutting with superior edge quality. Examples with pulsed cutting with the fiber lasers include cutting cardiovascular stents, silicon wafers for solar panels, stencil cutting etc. The high power multimode lasers are typically used for CW cutting of thin sheets to heavy plate for variety of applications. The large depth of field and small spot sizes results in small kerfs and straight walls even in thick metals. Common applications with the high power multimode lasers include 3-D cutting of automotive body parts such as hydroform tubes, high temperature steels. Cutting riveting holes in alloys of aluminum and titanium f or aerospace applications, cutting thick plates for the shipbuilding and steel industries.
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