3 limitations of laser beam machining

Lasers are often heralded as a fix-all solution. It’s important to remember that lasers also have some limitations before reorganizing the whole shop floor to accommodate a brand-new laser beam machining workbench. Here are the top 3 you won’t want to forget.

Can produce toxic fumes

Hexavalent chromium is one of the materials that can be released by laser beam machining, but cadmium, lead, zinc, and other toxic compounds can also be produced, leading to a host of health problems.

This happens because as lasers irradiate the target plastic or metal alloy with large amounts of power, elements trapped in the plastic or alloy are released.

At the same time, the air near the target expands because of the heat, bringing with it all the recently released toxic materials.

Thankfully, the solution is as straightforward as getting proper ventilation.

Require a high initial investment

Laser beam machining offers high precision. This usually comes with a high initial investment. Make sure to also appropriately research what maintenance costs are typical for your chosen laser. Thankfully, these costs may be offset by high production rates and operating costs that are usually on the low side.

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Gentec-EO's high-accuracy laser beam measurement instruments help engineers, scientists and technicians in all sorts of laser applications from the factory to the hospital, laboratory and research center. Learn about our solutions for these measurement types:

Because of the important capital investment, it makes sense that laser owners take the necessary steps to keep them in the best possible condition. This helps both to maximize the laser’s lifetime, and also to maximize the speed and precision of the cuts, drills, and welds the laser will provide.

Helping meet this need for optimal laser performance and durability is what motivates the team at Gentec-EO to provide the largest selection of laser beam measurement products and the broadest range of custom solutions.

Maximum working depth can be limited

If a laser’s parallel rays provide enough power density to cut, weld, or engrave the target, great! The maximum depth that can be processed will be considerable.

However, in many cases, the power density of those parallel rays just won’t cut it. It’ll be enough to heat the material, but it won’t really transform it in a useful way (cutting or welding it, for instance).

So, similar to using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays and burn holes through paper, laser professionals use lenses to focus the laser. At the focal point, the power density is maximal and the cutting, welding, and engraving performance are highest.

This laser power focusing works well as long as the distance to the target doesn’t change too much. When cutting through thick material, however, the depth will change. A laser that was very well focused at the surface of the material will go out of focus as it gets deeper and deeper into the material. The diluted power of an out-of-focus laser spot will lead to less precise cuts (and eventually, no cutting at all).

Gentec-EO’s laser beam power measurement solutions help you find out how quickly your laser converges (and diverges) and what power density you can expect from it at different depths, helping you achieve consistently fast and precise results.

Keep these 3 limitations of laser beam machining in mind when shopping for your next laser system. If you need help measuring your laser power, energy or profile, our local representatives can help you identify the best solution.

Gentec Electro-Optics is specialized in laser beam and terahertz source measurement and analysis. With an outstanding 50-year track record of innovation, developing and providing state-of the-art technologies to the laser market, Gentec-EO has become The Expert of the laser beam measurement field. For all sorts of laser applications from the factory to the hospital, laboratory and research center, Gentec-EO offers the broadest range of off-the-shelf and custom solutions, and stands ready to serve you now and in the future.
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