How to Design Metal Stampings
Things We've Learned From Years Making Metal Stampings
23. Laser Operation
Lasers can be operated in either the continuous wave (CW) or pulsed mode. CW operation is faster and generates a smoother edge. It is inherently less accurate because of thermal workpiece expansion due to the higher power levels reaching the work.
Where there is a need for intricate or very close-tolerance cutting, the pulsed mode generates less heat but produces a very finely serrated edge. The finest quality of the workpiece is a carefully balanced compromise between speed, workpiece cooling and edge condition.
Lasers are most productive when applied to mild steel and stainless steel and are more difficult to employ on aluminum. Aluminum and certain other metals like zinc and lead continue to reflect light when molten. This scatters the beam, requiring more power. In addition, aluminum and copper alloys conduct heat away from the cutting area which, again, requires more power.
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