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In today’s technological landscape, laser cutting is a prevailing technique known for its precision, efficiency, and versatility. It’s a technology that has been fine-tuned and optimized over decades, revolutionizing industries ranging from manufacturing to artistry. This blog aims to shed light on the general question of “What is laser cutting?”.
The laser cutting process begins with the generation of a high-energy laser beam from a laser source. The laser beam is steered through the machine by a series of mirrors and delivered to a processing head. This head is equipped with an optic which focuses the laser beam to a small point of intense energy capable of melting or vaporizing a wide range of substrates and ultimately cut it into specific shapes, patterns, and designs.
Kern primarily offers two types of laser sources on our cutting platforms: CO2 and fiber. Both employ a different mechanism and are suited for various applications. CO2 lasers are popular for cutting wood, plastics, textiles, foam and light gauge metal. Fiber lasers, adept at cutting metals, are renowned for their speed and efficiency.
The process of laser cutting is meticulously controlled by CNC (Computer Numerical Control) software. In Kern’s case we developed our own proprietary CAD software with precision laser control, called KCAM. KCAM’s friendly user interface allows operators complete control of the laser cutting process.
One of the cardinal advantages of laser cutting is its precision. The laser beam can be customized by optics and focus enabling intricate cuts that are often impossible with traditional cutting equipment. Kern’s laser machines are designed to handle repetitive cutting of complex patterns and designs to be executed with meticulous detail and accuracy.
Efficiency is another hallmark of laser cutting. The speed at which materials can be cut, and the minimal waste produced, renders it a cost-effective method for both small-scale and industrial applications. Since the laser beam is contained and does not wear during the cutting process, maintenance and operational costs are minimal.
Laser cutting has a plethora of applications, spanning several sectors. In manufacturing, it is employed to cut a diverse set of materials with precision, creating components for automobiles, nameplates, electronics, and more. In the realm of artistry, artists and craftsmen leverage laser cutting to create intricate designs in jewelry, decorations, and artistic installations. In essence, anywhere there is a need for precision, speed, and versatility, laser cutting finds its application.
Precision and Accuracy: Laser cutting is incredibly precise and can cut materials with high accuracy, often within fractions of a millimeter. This precision makes it ideal for intricate and detailed designs, allowing for clean and sharp edges.
Versatility: Laser cutting can be used on a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, wood, fabric, ceramics, and more. This versatility makes it suitable for diverse applications across industries such as manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and healthcare.
Minimal Material Waste: Laser cutting produces minimal material waste because it creates narrow kerf widths, meaning that very little material is removed during the cutting process. This can result in cost savings and reduced environmental impact.
Non-Contact Cutting: Laser cutting is a non-contact process, meaning that the laser beam does not physically touch the material being cut. This eliminates the need for tool changes and reduces wear and tear on cutting equipment, leading to lower maintenance costs.
Automation and Speed: Laser cutting machines can operate at high speeds, allowing for rapid production and increased efficiency. Additionally, they can be easily integrated into automated manufacturing processes, reducing labor costs and increasing overall productivity.
Kiss cutting, also known as “precision cutting” is a technique used to cut materials without penetrating the backing material, leaving it intact. This method is particularly useful for creating intricate shapes, labels, stickers, decals, gaskets, and more. Kiss cutting with a laser involves using proper software parameters to cut through the top layer of material while leaving the backing material untouched. This precise process offers numerous advantages in various industries, making it a valuable tool for many applications.
In summation, laser cutting is a confluence of art and science, a technology where precision meets versatility. Its applications are vast, and its future, replete with possibilities. Kern is focused on continual advancement of our laser technology, and we believe it will be an indispensable tool in the arsenal of makers, builders, and creators for generations to come.