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Lasers are used for various purposes. One of the ways that they are used is in cutting metals. When laser cutting is employed in mild steel, aluminum plate and stainless steel, the cutting is pretty accurate. It yields an excellent quality, produces a small kerf width and a tiny heat affect zone. This makes it possible to cut complicated shapes and small holes.
How it works
The laser beam is composed of a column of high intensity light which is patterned on a single color or wavelength. In a typical CO2 laser, the wavelength used is in the Infra Red section of the spectrum. This is the reason why it is invisible to the human eye. The diameter of the beam as it travels from the laser is only .75 of an inch. The beam then is created on the machine’s path. The beam can be bounced at different angels and directions through a series of mirrors before it is completely focused on the plate. The laser beam then goes through the nozzle before it hits the metallic plate. Flowing through the nozzle is compressed gas like Nitrogen or Oxygen.
You can focus the laser beam can be done through a special lens or through a curved mirror. You need to precisely focus the beam o flight in order that the shape of the spot focused as well as the density of the energy emanating from the spot are consistent and are perfectly round and are also centered around the nozzle. When you focus the large beam on a single point, the density of the heat in that distinct spot is extremely high. Think about a magnifying glass used to focus the rays of the sun in a leaf and how it can possibly start a fire. Now, think about directing 6 kilowatts of pure energy on a single spot. Now, you can probably imagine how hot that spot is.
With the high power density used, there is rapid melting, heating and complete vaporizing of material. When you are cutting mild steel, the heat emitted by the laser beam is enough in order to start an oxy-fuel burning process. The laser cutting gas in turn will become pure oxygen.