Laser cutting creates highly accurate components quickly and eliminates the need for cleaning or further processing. 5-axis laser cutting produces components that feature even highly complex geometries and is compatible with a diverse variety of substrates. At Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping, our state-of-the-art 5-axis laser cutting equipment is enhanced by decades of industry experience.
Laser cutting is a subtractive manufacturing technique that uses computer numerical control (CNC) software to direct a high-powered laser beam through a material. The laser follows digital design drawings and cuts or etches sheets of material according to its specifications. The result is an incredibly accurate component with minimal waste. Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping provides metal laser cutting services using a Komatsu TLM Series 5-Axis Laser Cutting System.
What is 5-Axis Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is a highly precise CNC thermal process that cuts, melts, or burns material sheets using a high-powered laser beam. The laser cutting process is ideal for one-off jobs as well as low to medium production volumes due to its high repeatability. Laser cutting is well suited to a variety of materials, including metals, polymers, and wood. It facilitates the production of complex parts without the need for a custom-designed tool.
This subtractive manufacturing technique uses computer numerical control (CNC) software to direct a high-powered laser beam through a material. The laser follows digital design drawings to cut or etch sheets of material according to their specifications. This results in incredibly accurate components with minimal waste production.
5-Axis Laser Cutting Process
Laser cutting machines use a motion control system to follow a G-code or CNC pattern that is to be cut into the material. A laser is typically mounted on a gantry system, which allows it to move along an XY axis. From here it can reproduce designs with great accuracy, even when curves and angles are involved. The focused laser beam burns, melts, vaporizes, or is blown away by a jet of gas to leave high-quality surface finished edges. In 5-axis laser cutting, the table can be tilted and rotated to facilitate work on three-dimensional parts, including those that feature extreme angles and curved surfaces.
Traditional 3-axis laser cutting supports work on the x-, y-, and z-axes. Achieving more complex part geometries on a 3-axis machine requires continual part repositioning. Not only does this limit production speeds, but it also introduces opportunities for positioning errors as well as diminished quality and repeatability. In 5-axis laser cutting, however, equipment operators can tilt or rotate the table to facilitate work on three-dimensional parts, including those that feature extreme angles and curved surfaces.
By using 5-axis laser cutting, Metal Craft can produce easily repeatable, highly intricate designs on equipment that we only have to position and program once. This equipment adds workability on the a-axis, which is a rotation around the x-axis, and the b-axis, or a rotation around the y-axis, to create cuts on additional sides of a part. This versatility of movement simplifies the cutting of complex shapes, typically with no finishing requirements.
Laser Cutting Metal Materials
A 5-axis laser cutter has the ability to cut through a range of thick and thin materials, with numerous options in metal materials alone. The cut depth than you can achieve depends upon the type of laser an operation uses as well as the metal type. At Metal Craft, our laser equipment allows us to successfully achieve clean cuts in a range of corrosion-resistant metals.
Heat-resistant copper is a versatile, thermally and electrically conductive metal with high mechanical strength. Like brass, copper is often prized for its attractive look, giving it applications in roofing, lighting fixtures, and other decorative features. Copper is also reflective, though again, laser cutting can still make effective cuts in copper as the reflectivity diminishes as the material becomes molten.
Aluminum is a durable, lightweight metal available in multiple alloys. In laser cutting applications, it’s important to choose the right aluminum alloy for the job. This material is softer than steel and has a malleable molecular structure, so laser cutting can leave behind rough edges and dross on certain aluminum alloys.
Strong, durable, and resistant to rust, stainless steel is an ideal candidate for structural components and laser-cut products that will be exposed to weather or other challenging environmental conditions. Stainless steel is a highly applicable choice for the laser cutting process, as the technique creates smooth edges. That said, the thicker the stainless steel sheet, the greater the chance of rougher edges.
Cold Rolled Steel
Stronger and more resilient than hot rolled steel, cold rolled steel is a work-hardened material that makes an excellent all-around choice for many laser cutting projects. It allows for clean edges and good surface quality. Cold rolled steel products are ideal for applications as structural components as the material holds up well against abrasion and stress.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Cutting?
Compared to other cutting methods, laser cutting offers numerous advantages:
- Low lead times. Laser cutting uses minimal tooling, which greatly reduces lead times. Laser-cut components typically do not require further treating, finishing, or tooling.
- Precision. Lasers deliver unparalleled accuracy, with typical tolerances between 0.003 mm and 0.006 mm.
- Reduced waste. Laser cutters maximize the number of usable components by nesting cuts properly, resulting in minimal waste and reduced material costs over time.
- No damage or warping to materials. The heat-affected zone (HAZ) for laser cutting is very small, typically causing no tolerance issues.
- Versatility. Laser cutting is effective for a diverse variety of tasks, not only cutting through materials. It can also engrave, assist in developing prototypes, and more.
Our 5-Axis Laser Cutting Machinery
Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping provides metal laser cutting services using a new Komatsu TLM Series 5-Axis, CO2 Laser Cutting System from Japan. This state-of-the-art machine improves on the abilities of 3-axis equipment, giving our laser-cutting services a competitive edge that we pass on to our clients. With fully automated capabilities, this equipment follows the 3D cutting instructions of advanced software technology. The TLM series excels in the following categories:
- Speed. In addition to facilitating setup as well as fast positioning changes, the TLM series allows for rapid feeding of as much as 1,575 inches (x- and y-axes) and 1,181 inches (z-axis) per minute. Rapid feeding, cutting, and operating speeds also equate to enhanced productivity.
- Precision. Its controllable optical head, low-inertia AC servo motors, linear ball guide mechanisms, ball screw feeds, and non-contact gap sensor allow the equipment to respond quickly to any alterations in a component’s geometry while maintaining consistent focus for cuts of the highest quality. The series is accurate within ±0.0012 inches per 1 foot of travel distance.
- Versatility. To achieve 3D parts, this 5-axis equipment allows for table tilting and rotation. It employs an easy-to-use joystick control and a Microsoft Windows operating system, with software possessing numerous built-in calculations and interactive features and guides. It can generate curves, sharp angles, precise holes, and more to give us the ability to create the most unique shapes and patterns while ensuring smooth, clean edges.
5-Axis Laser Cutting Services from Metal Craft
If you’re looking for laser cutting services, whether it’s a full part or just a piece of a part, Metal Craft has got you covered. Equipped with decades of industry experience and state-of-the-art 5-Axis Laser Cutting equipment, we have the knowledge and skills to deliver precise and accurate metal components that fully meet your needs.
For additional information about our laser cutting or other manufacturing capabilities, contact us or request a quote today. One of our experts will answer and address any questions or concerns you may have about the process or your project.