Laser cutters use thin laser beams to cut sheet materials into custom designs and different shapes. The laser cutting process is thermal-based, and it does not involve contact between the material and the machine. In addition, the machine is versatile as it can cut any material. There are several types of laser cutting machines based on the machine’s configuration and type of laser. If you want the best laser cutter for small businesses, you need to know the various laser cutters available in the market. Take a look at them below.
There are three types of laser cutters based on how the machines are configured. These include moving materials, flying optics, and hybrid configuration machines.
1. Moving Material Configuration
The laser beam is stationary in this configuration while the automatically mobile surface located under the laser moves the material. The machine maintains a constant distance between the laser’s opening and the surface of the workpiece. Moreover, the laser cutter uses fewer optics and has the slowest speed.
2. Flying Optics Machine
It is the fastest laser cutter. In this configuration, the laser beam is movable while the material is stationary. The laser beam can move along the x and y axes of the sheet, contributing to the cutter’s fast completion time. The beam length is constantly changing on this machine due to the constant movement of the laser head. You can adjust the length by aligning optics or using tools to maintain a constant distance between the material and laser opening.
3. Hybrid Configuration
The machine combines features of moving material and flying optics laser machines. In this type, the worktable moves along the x-axis, and the laser head moves along the y-axis. The movement combination causes the laser stream to be more constant compared to that of flying optics cutters. Additionally, the hybrid configuration is energy efficient and reduces power loss.
Common Types of Lasers
Laser cutting machines also differ by their laser source. CO2, fiber, and crystal are the different laser types. Each laser type is suited for specific materials and has its pros and cons.
1. Fiber Lasers
Solid-state lasers encompass fiber lasers that generate laser beams by seed laser means and use glass fibers to amplify them. They have higher intensity compared to CO2 lasers. They are ideal for metal marking, engraving, and high-contrast markings on plastics. Plus, fiber lasers are suitable for cutting plastics, metals, and coated metals.
2. Crystal lasers
They also belong to the solid-state lasers group. The most common lasers are neodymium yttrium-aluminum garnet and neodymium yttrium ortho-vanadate. They are great for marking plastics and metals. However, the crystal’s service life is shorter than that of a fiber laser.
3. CO2 Laser
CO2 lasers use a mixture of electrically stimulated CO2 gases, and you can use them to cut wood, fabric, glass, and plastics. CO2 laser cutters have high efficiency and excellent beam quality. Therefore they are widely used for boring, engraving, and cutting materials.
You can choose from the various laser cutting options outlined here to use. The article will arm you with vast knowledge to know the most suitable laser cutting machine for your needs. Take your time and figure out what will work for you.