When used in cutting applications, laser technology provides excellent cut quality and high productivity for many different materials. Of the two main types of industrial laser cutters – CO2 and fiber – CO2 lasers typically have a lower capital investment cost, but are more expensive to maintain than fiber lasers.

While some industrial laser cutters can cut thicker steel (i.e., greater than 25 mm or 1”), it is important to take a number of other factors into consideration when deciding on the type of machine to purchase, including:

  • Number of parts to be cut
  • Type of material
  • Thickness of the metal
  • Required cut quality
  • Need for secondary operations

Laser system components

  • Laser resonator
  • Beam delivery
  • Cutting head

Types of lasers

  • CO2 laser
  • Fiber laser
  • Direct diode
  • YAG (yttrium-aluminum-garnet)

Laser cutting software

Laser cutting software is used to program the cutting machine. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) software may come equipped with the machine, but in many cases fabricators and manufacturers upgrade to an aftermarket software commonly referred to as CAD/CAM nesting software which may offer additional features and has the added benefit of being able to program multiple different machine brands and models.

Some types of CAD/CAM nesting software for laser can control and automatically set up virtually every aspect of the laser cutting operation. For example, Hypertherm's ProNest® supports parameters such as wattage, focal length, gas type and pressure, cut speeds, cut heights, pierce types, pierce heights, and more. All of this is intended to simplify the machine operator’s job and increase productivity.

Other features commonly found in laser cutting software include:

  • Collision avoidance
  • Grain constraint
  • Common line cutting
  • Slug destroy
  • Corner radiusing
  • Fly cutting
  • Micro-joints
  • Safety cuts
  • Skeleton cut-up

Fiber laser cutting applications

Due to high beam quality, fiber lasers are a good first choice for precision applications, or anywhere you need a narrow kerf and very high quality cuts. Typical materials include:

  • Mild Steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Titanium

Not sure which process or method to use?

You’ll find helpful information here:

Want to learn more about CO2 lasers?

Take our free "Understanding CO2 lasers" eLearning course on the Hypertherm Cutting Institute

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