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What is a CNC Laser?
A CNC laser cutter or laser engraving machine uses a very intense focused laser beam to cut into a variety of materials, but most commonly for sheet metal, such as mild steel, carbon steel or stainless steel. The high-powered laser system creates higher precision cuts in a faster amount of time compared to alternative sheet metal cutting methods, like plasma cutting or waterjet cutting.
CNC laser cutting is used in a variety of industries, but most predominantly in the automotive industry and aerospace industry. The precise cuts a laser cutter creates can be used to either cut through the material or simply engrave it. The laser is controlled by a CNC controller, in a fashion like CNC lathes and CNC mills, but mainly in two dimensions rather than three and using a laser instead of a cutting head to accomplish the work needed. Vector files are used to communicate the details to the CNC controller. There are some CNC laser cutters capable of cutting in three dimensions, but they typically are used for two-dimensional cutting or engraving.
What Kind of Features Should I Look for in a CNC Laser?
There are several types of CNC laser machines to create a perfect, neat laser cut for your manufacturing needs. However, the most popular is a fiber optic laser machine, so named because it uses fiber optics as a lower-cost and virtually maintenance-free option. Considered an industry disruptor, it’s almost completely replaced CO2 and other gasses that can be used to shield the cut, including hydrogen, helium, nitrogen and xenon, depending on your manufacturing needs and the potential for toxic fumes to be created during the process. Safety features also allow your crew to work safely. Unlike CNC machines that use an end mill to cut material, the CNC laser simply uses light to cut the work piece.
At the heart of your CNC laser is the laser generator, which uses a laser tube for laser processing. A fiber laser uses fiber optic cable to transmit the laser’s light, providing even more precision in your work or allowing you to cut multiple pieces at the same time using the same CNC control unit and power supply. For gas-shielded lasers, once the laser has passed out of the laser tube, it passes through a focal point, amplifier or lens, which focuses the laser’s light to pinpoint precision, which is why it’s able to cut through or engrave a wide range of materials, depending on the depth of the focus.
If you’re investing in a used laser CNC, the Equipment Hub can help you determine what to consider, so you get a machine that fits your needs, at the best price. Take a few minutes check out our available CNC lasers and get a quote today!