Laser Cutting of Nonferrous Metal
Processing of Highly Reflective Materials
Aluminum, magnesium, brass, copper, bronze, titanium, zirconium, nickel, silver, gold, platinum, tantalum, zinc or tin are examples for non-ferrous metals that can be cut with a laser.
Depending on the requirements of the workpiece and material thickness, you can use either removal cutting processes with pulsed lasers or fusion cutting processes with cw lasers.
Micro or Macro?
Thin workpieces can be cut with either pulsed lasers or continuous wave lasers. With these processes an assist gas is used to expel molten material out of the kerf, resulting in a burr-free cutting edge. The width of the kerf will be between 50-300 micrometer depending on the material and the type of laser. The laser power determines the cutting speed, which can range from 0.5m/min to over 100m/min. Using this cutting processes on thin material, pulsed lasers achieve high accuracy, high quality, and the thermal impact is low. Continuous wave lasers (macro) using the same process will be able to achieve very high cutting speeds.
Sublimation cutting is done without any cutting gas. The material evaporates directly, and the kerf is created by gradual ablation. This can be realized using single mode fiber lasers (macro) or by short pulse lasers with high peak power (micro). With both processes, mirror deflection systems are the preferred option for the beam movement.
Laser Cutting of Aluminum
- Aluminum is cut with the help of laser sublimation. Due to the crystal mesh effect of the light metal and due to the wave length of the laser, aluminum is cut technically laborious as the main part of the induced radiation is reflected. Thus aluminum is preferably cut with the solid state laser.
Laser Cutting of Further NonFerrous Heavy Metal
- Also other non-ferrous heavy metals such as copper, bronze or zinc can be cut with the laser.
Laser Cutting of Memory Metals
- Medical stents made of stainless steel or nickel-titan-alloys (shape memory alloys or memory metals) are support implants with a geometry that is cut out of a tube and which requires excellent quality. Typical tube diameters ranges from1 and 30 mm with a wall thickness of 50 – 600 microns. Laser cutting allows cuts smaller than 20 microns wide at cutting speeds of several mm/sec. In this way a stent can be produced within only few minutes.