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From Beginning to Advanced: Blogs on Industry and Manufacturing

Greetings! My name is Adam. I work in the advertising industry as a brand developer. I also teach surfing lessons and spend a lot of time volunteering with an animal hospital. When I was on a gap year, I took a job in a pen factory. Through that experience, I learned a great deal about how pens were made, but I also learned a lot about industrial work and manufacturing in general. In this blog, I plan to write about all aspects of these topics, and I hope that this information is interesting and informative to you. Please, grab a tea and start looking around. If you like my blogs, share them. Thanks.

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From Beginning to Advanced: Blogs on Industry and Manufacturing

How Laser Cutting Is Affected By Material Surface Condition

by Daniel Wilson

Laser cutting enables fabricators to cut a wide range of materials quickly and precisely. However, the cutting process can be hindered by the condition of the surface that is being cut. This article discusses how different surface conditions can affect the laser cutting process. Use this information to adjust your laser cutting settings and methods so that fewer defects occur in the cut materials.

Corrosion

Heavy materials, such as I-beams, are usually stored outdoors before fabrication processes are conducted on them. That outdoor storage allows agents of corrosion, such as moisture, to act on the metal. The resultant corrosion can react with the oxygen used as an assist gas during laser cutting. That reaction contaminates the oxygen and results in uneven cuts in the places where corrosion occurred. You can keep this problem at bay by using a sander to remove all the corrosion debris from the surface of the material before laser cutting begins.

Presence of Lubricants

Some manufacturers use lubricants or coolants during sheet metal or pipe forming processes. Some of those lubricants or coolants may remain on the outer or inner surfaces of the materials that are sent to a laser cutter. Those lubricants or coolants can have a positive or a negative effect on the cutting process. For instance, the lubricants may help to dissipate the heat generated during the laser cutting process. This dissipation can help to prevent the heat-affected zone from developing defects, such as brittleness. On the flipside, lubricants can vapourise when they are exposed to heat during the laser cutting process. The vapourised lubricants can cloud the surface of the laser sensors and other components of the laser cutter. This can cause the laser beam to bend as it moves towards the cut site. The net result of this diversion is reduced cut accuracy. Prevent lubricant problems by cleaning the material thoroughly before laser cutting begins.

Presence of Corrosion Inhibitors

Some manufacturers spray corrosion inhibitors on the surface of materials before shipping them to clients. Those inhibitors can cause the laser cutter to become slow when cutting through that material. This is because the laser beam has to first burn through the inhibitor before it can cut through the material. You should read the fact sheets of the materials delivered to you so that you slow down the cutting speed of the laser in case you find that a corrosion inhibitor was used to protect the material.

As you can see, each surface condition affects the laser cutting process in a unique way. You can improve the quality of your laser cuts by studying the surface condition of each material. This analysis will enable you to tweak the cutting parameters to suit the condition of each material that you cut.

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