Laser cutting technology is a very useful development that has occurred over the past half-century. Also, laser cut steel is an important application of laser cutting technology. Because various steel materials are widely used in life.
A high-density laser beam irradiates onto the steel surface to melt the material at the beam spot. This helps operators to cut custom parts and shapes out from a variety of steel materials with the highest precision. The laser cut steel metal parts helps improve the smoothness and reliability of many modern machines and equipment.
This article gives the basic knowledge of laser cutting steel and recommends the best metal laser cutting machine. I hope it can be helpful for you to develop your laser cut steel designs and projects.
Can you laser cut steel?
The answer is definitely YES.
Laser cut steel has been regarded as one of the most effective and precise CNC metal cutting methods. Whether a CO2 laser cutting machine or a fiber laser cutting machine can be used for CNC metal cutting. Although both of them can cut steel materials, there is a big difference between them.
The CO2 laser machine uses a CO2 laser source. The wavelength of the CO2 laser is 10.6 microns with good stability. CO2 laser cutters can cut steel materials but the cutting thickness is thin. For example, a 130W CO2 laser cutting machine is able to cut 1mm stainless steel and 1mm carbon steel plate. The laser power under 130W is relative hard to cut through metal materials. In addition, the CO2 laser cutter shall use a metal cutting supportive laser head and probably a copper nozzle. Furthermore, the CO2 laser cutter seems a little powerless when cutting thin steel sheets. Therefore, the CO2 laser cutting machine is currently mainly for cutting and engraving non-metal materials.
Blue Elephant provides a mixed CO2 laser cutting machine to cut both metal and non-metal materials. Let's watch the following video to see the laser cut stainless steel and carbon steel by a mixed CO2 laser cutter.
The fiber laser cutting machine adopting fiber a laser source is designed to cut various metal materials. So, it is the best choice for you to develop laser cut steel projects. Different laser powers help you cut steel plates with a wide range of thicknesses. Laser cutting steel requires the assistance of auxiliary gas. For instance, laser cut stainless steel needs the help of nitrogen, while laser cutting carbon steel requires oxygen. Blue Elephant offers multiple models of fiber metal laser cutting machines for laser cut steel plans.
Laser cut steel materials
Steel refers to an iron-carbon alloy with a carbon content of less than 2%. According to different components,the steelfallsinto the carbon steel and other alloy steel.In terms of properties and uses, it includes structural steel, tool steel and special performance steel. Anyway, the metal laser cutting machine can cut most types of steel materials. The most common laser cut steel materials are stainless steel and carbon steel.
Steel materials that can be cut by a fiber laser cutter mainly include:
Carbon steel: steel with a particularly high carbon content
Low-carbon steel: carbon content is lower than the carbon steel
Stainless steel: adding a small amount of chromium in the steel to create corrosion resistance
Other steel alloy: adding one or more types of other elements in the steel to increase its strength
Laser cut steel thickness
In practical CNC metal cutting,the metal laser cutting thickness is related to various factors. For example, the type and power of the laser, cutting environment, cutting speed, and the quality of the metal laser cutter. Using a suitable auxiliary gas can also improve a certain laser cutting ability.So there is no absolute value for the laser cut steel thickness.
For example, laser cutting carbon steel mainly relies on oxygen combustion. While laser cut stainless steel mainly depends on laser power. Generally, a 1000W fiber laser cutting machine can cut carbon steel plates with a thickness of about 10mm. But it’s hard to cut stainless steel plates with the same thickness. Increasing the cutting thickness may be at the expense of the cutting edge quality and the cutting speed.
Laser cut steel thickness for carbon steel and stainless steel
|Laser power||Material||Max. cutting thickness||Remarks|
|1000W||Carbon steel||12mm||Relatively rough grain on cut surface|
|Stainless steel||4.5mm||Slight burrs or slags on bottom surface|
|1500W||Carbon steel||14mm||Relatively rough grain on cut surface|
|Stainless steel||5mm||Slight burrs or slags on bottom surface|
|2000W||Carbon steel||16mm||Rough grain|
|Stainless steel||12mm (O2)||Good cutting quality|
|4000W||Carbon steel||25mm||High requirements for cutting conditions|
|Stainless steel||20mm||Slight burrs or slags on bottom surface|
The above laser cutting steel sheet thickness data are theoretical valuesobtained under extreme cutting conditions.It isfor reference only. So, the actual cutting thickness may be less thanthese values.
Laser cut steel machines
We recommend using a fiber laser cutting machine to cut steel sheets and tubes for mass production. It is ok to cut stainless steel and carbon steel sheets with a CO2 laser cutting machine. But the cutting thickness is small and the energy consumption is high.
Shapes of the steel materials mainly include steel sheets, pipes, and irregular-shaped steel bars. Therefore, our fiber laser cut steel machines can be simply divided into three major types for cutting sheets, pipes, and both sheets and pipes respectively.
Steel laser pipe cutting machine
The laser pipe cutting machine has a long and narrow shape, occupying a small space. It is mainly used for cutting various steel pipes and steel bars. All round, square, and rectangular steel pipes and tubes can be cut by the pipe metal laser cutter. Meanwhile, the steel laser pipe cutting machine can also cut V-, H-, L-, and U-shaped steel bars. These bars can be used for rails, metal doors and windows, construction, infrastructure, and other purposes.
Laser Cut Steel Pipe Machine Laser Pipe Cutter
This type of laser pipe cutting machine uses pneumatic chucks to fix and rotate steel pipes and bars. The auto-focusing laser head can automatically adjust the focus to ensure the best cutting distance.
The high-strength mechanical structure of the pipe metal laser cutter ensures no deformation and vibration when cutting the steel pipes. Thereby it ensures the precision of laser cutting steel sheet. In addition to the double chucks, it also has an automatic steel pipe support device. This effectively supports the long steel pipe and reduces the deformation when cutting long pipes with the metal laser cutting machine.
The optimized optical configuration and smooth and efficient airflow design improve the cutting effect. Besides, The pipe metal laser cutting machine adopts an independent control cabinet. It helps separate the strong and weak electricity, reducing circuit interference. Furthermore, it is convenient for maintenance and heat dissipation, and prevents dust and static.
The laser pipe cutting machine have multiple models and specifications for cutting pipes of different lengths and weights. You can choose one that suits your processing requirements best.
Click the following video to see how our laser pipe cutting machine cuts round and square stainless steel pipes.
Laser cut sheet metal machine
As the name suggests, the laser cut sheet metal machine mainly cuts various steel plates. For example, the sheet metal laser cutter can cut stainless steel, carbon steel, alloy steel, as well as aluminum, copper, and other metal sheets.
The specifications of the fiber laser cutting machine can be selected according to your needs. For example, table size, laser power, laser brand, protective cover, exchange worktable, etc. Generally speaking, the higher the laser power you choose, the greater the laser cut steel thickness. Correspondingly, the price of the fiber laser cutting machine will be more expensive.
Exchange Platform CNC Laser Cutting Machine for Steel Sheets
As an entry-level laser cut sheet metal machine, it adds an exchange platform to the 1530 fiber laser cutting machine. Its open-type flatbed structure is suitable for cutting sheet metals. The worktable sizes of the metal laser cutter include 1530, 1540, 1560, 2040, 2060, 2560, etc.
This automatic worktable exchanging system realizes simultaneous loading and unloading during the laser cut steel process. The platform exchange time is about 25s-40s, which saves the loading time and reduces the manual workload.
Besides, you can also choose between automatic or manual focusing laser heads for the laser cut sheet metal machine. The automatic focusing speed can reach 10m/min, and the repeatability can reach 50 microns. In addition, the collimating protective lens adopts a dust-proof protection design to protect the internal optical components. The distance between the protective lens and the nozzle is prolonged to improve the life of the lens.
Let's take a look at the process of a metal laser cutting machine cutting carbon steel plates. The video shows the laser cutting process of 3mm, 6mm, 16mm, and 20mm thick carbon steel plates. As shown in the video, the greater the thickness of the laser cut steel plate, the slower the laser cutting speed will be.
Sheet and tube laser cutting machine
The sheet and tube laser cutting machine is a combination of the above two laser cut steel machines. It can realize the cutting of both steel plates and steel pipes. If you need to cut steel sheets and steel pipes at the same time, this metal laser cutter is undoubtedly the best choice.
Sheet and Tube Laser Cutting Machine Fiber Laser Cutter
This fiber laser cutter integrates the advantages of the laser cut sheet metal machine and the laser pipe cutter. It saves many spaces, operates smoothly, and increases work efficiency. Similar with the other fiber laser cutters, it also has multiple specifications to choose from.
Features of this CNC laser cutting machine include auto-focusing laser head, thick wall carbon steel tube welded bed, aluminum crossbeam, etc. All features ensure a stable, precise, and safe laser cut steel process.
Laser cut steel service
Laser cutters capable of cutting metal are still too expensive for thehobbyistin this age of CNC machines.Even thoughyou can buy low-power laser machines (less than 100W) quite cheaply, they will hardly scratch metal surfaces.
A metal laser cutting machine shall use laser power at least 300W, which may cost you no less than $10000. Besides, laser cut steel requires the assistance of auxiliary gases, which will incur additional costs.
The other trouble to have a CNC laser cutting machine is its size. Most metal laser cutting machines require a shop or room to settle down.
Therefore, you can check the metal laser cutting service if you can't afford an expensive fiber laser cutting machine for the moment. Besides, if you only need a metal laser cutting project once, you can also choose the metal laser cutting service.
There are now many online and offline metal laser cutting service providers. They specialize in cutting services for all kinds of metals. Such laser cutting services are ideal for customers who occasionally need to laser cut steel projects.However, if you are a manufacturer of steel parts, equipment, structures, etc., buying a laser cutting machine is the best option.
Laser cut steel precautions
Keep in mind that the fiber laser cutter isnot a toyno matter what kind of steel you cut. Especially when cut metals, it may cause serious injuryor damage to your safety and property. Many people do not understand the use of laser cutting machines, which leads to unexpected situations. Below are several precautions that you need to pay attention to in the process of laser cutsteel.
1 There is rust on the steel sheet surface.
It is hard to cut through stainless steel sheets when there is rust on the surface. Andthe final resultsof processing will be poor. Besides, rust can splatter on the nozzle and damage itduring the laser cutsteelprocess.Moreover, when the nozzle is damaged, the laser beam will be offset, which deteriorates the laser cutting steel sheet accuracy. In addition,itmay also damage the optical system and protection system, and may even lead to anexplosion accident. Therefore, pay attention to removing the rust on the metal surfacebefore laser cut steel.
2 There is paint on the steel sheet surface.
Sometimes there is paint on steel surfaces although it is uncommon. We need to know that a lot of paint is toxic. So laser cutting steel sheetwith paint will produce toxic fumes, which are harmful to human health. Therefore, it is necessary to exhaust the fume in time during the laser cutting process.
3 Burrs occur on the cutting edge during laser cut steel.
The reasons and improvement methods are as follows:
1) The laser focus positionmay change.It is necessary to do a focus position test and adjust it according to the offset of the laser focus.
2) Insufficient laseroutput power.Check whether the laser generator is working normally. If it is, check whether the output value of the laser control button is correct. Adjust in case of any error.
3) Too slow the cutting line speed is.Tryto increase the line speedof the laser cut steel operation.
4) Impure cutting gas.Try to provide high-quality cutting working gasfor the laser cut steel process.
5) Instability occurswhen the metal laser cutter runs for too long. Try to reboot the laser cutting machine.
4 Fiber laser cutter fails to cut through the steel sheet.
One of the reasons is that the laser nozzle does not match the thickness of thelaser cutsteel. You can replace the laser nozzle, or try to cut a thinner steel plate. Or reduce the line speed if the laser cutting line speed is too fast.In addition, pleaseregularly clean the foreign objects insidethe nozzle of the laser metal cutting machine.
5 Abnormal sparks occur when laser cut low carbon steel.
This will affect the machining quality of the cutting surfaceof steel workpieces. At this time, we need to consider the following reasons when other parameters are normal:
1) The nozzle of the laser head is seriously worn. Please replacethe nozzle.
2) In the case of no new nozzle, try to increase the gas pressure of the cutting work.
3) If the thread at the connection between the nozzle and the laser head is loose, stop cutting immediately. Check the connection of the laser head.
Furthermore, there are many other problems thatyou may encounter duringlasercutting process, such as material deformation, discoloration, etc. We have given some preliminary solutions in the previous article Factors Affecting Laser Cutting Quality.You can read this article to see if it helps.
Laser cut steel is a major application of the laser cutting technology in the sheet metalindustry. Of course, like all technologies, laser cutting is an ever-evolving field, which means it will never be perfect. There are always obstacles and limitations to overcome.
Laser power, focal length, and cutting speed all have an important impact on the quality of lasercut steel. Therefore, you need to know enough about the laser cutting machine and the steel material before starting the laser cutsteel projects.
A laser metal cuttingmachinecomes in a variety of models and configurations. We can also customize the machine according to your needs. We will do our best to meet your laser cut steel requirements and help you realize your laser cut steel plans.
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What are the basics of laser cutting? ›
Laser cutting involves using a high-power laser beam, guided with sophisticated CNC control software, to melt a specific area of metal and blow the molten material out of the way, thereby leaving a clean cut. This cutting technology comes in several flavors to accommodate various needs.How does a steel laser cutter work? ›
The focused laser beam melts the metal. During the cutting process, gas is emitted. When cutting mild steel, pure oxygen is released to start a burning process. In case of stainless steel or laser cutting aluminium, the laser beam just melts the metal.What type of laser is used to cut steel? ›
Steel materials are often very thick and require high power cutting methods. This means that they are usually cut with CO2 lasers since they have the capacity to pump out higher power cuts than other lasers.What are the different types of laser for laser cutting? ›
- Solid-State Laser. Solid-state lasers, one of the most ancient techniques, use a crystalline or glass rod which is “doped” with ions that provide the required energy states. ...
- Fiber Laser. ...
- CO2 Laser.
There are three major varieties of laser cutting: fusion cutting, flame cutting and remote cutting. In fusion cutting, an inert gas (typically nitrogen) is used to expel molten material out of the kerf.What are the 5 steps in production of laser? ›
- Excitation by pumping light.
- Fluorescence and start of stimulated emission.
- Growth of stimulated emission along the axis of medium.
- Continued amplification by stimulated emission and output from laser.
Generally, when laser cutting metals with fiber lasers, the upper limit on thickness of the metal sheet to be cut is around 20 – 25 mm for mild steels. Above this thickness, higher power CO2 lasers are used but with specialized fiber lasers for a higher price, it is possible to cut thicker plates than this.Which 3 processes can a laser cutter do to your material? ›
As the name suggests, laser cutters use a thin and focused laser beam to melt, burn, or vaporize certain materials, creating the cut or etch you need for your custom designs, patterns, and shapes.How powerful of a laser do you need to cut steel? ›
As a reference, a 40-W laser can cut through paper, cardboard, foam, and thin plastic, while a 300-W laser can cut through thin steel and thicker plastic. If you wish to cut through 2-mm or thicker steel sheets, you'll need at least 500 W.What materials Cannot be laser cut? ›
- Leather and artificial leather that contains chromium (VI)
- Carbon fibers (Carbon)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
- Polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon)
- Beryllium oxide.
What temperature should laser cut be? ›
Accepted cutting quality can be obtained when the Tce is at the range of 1800∼1950 °C.What are the 4 classes of lasers? ›
There are four main classes for visible-beam lasers: Class 2, Class 3R, Class 3B and Class 4. The first two are relatively safe for eye exposure; the last two are hazardous. The chart below shows that the eye injury hazard increases as the laser's power increases.What are the four levels of laser? ›
Level 1 is the ground level and levels 2,3, and 4 are excited levels of the system. Atoms from the level 1 are excited by a pump to level 4, from which the atoms decay very rapidly through some nonradiative transition to level 3. Level 3 is a metastable level having a long lifetime.What is the difference between CNC and laser cutting? ›
The difference is how the cutting occurs. Instead of a cutting tool, a laser relies on heat to create the desired shape of the product. While traditional CNC cutting carves out the design, laser cutting relies on a high-energy light beam that burns through the metal material.Is a laser cutter CAD or CAM? ›
Laser cutter - A laser is directed from a precise length on to a material to either cut or etch. The laser is controlled from a computer using a computer aided design (CAD) drawing.What software does a laser cutter use? ›
Adobe Illustrator is the gold standard against which all other design software is measured. One feature that makes Adobe Illustrator shine as a program for laser cutting is its Artboards setup. This is where you lay out your designs on one screen to see how they'll fit onto your sheets of material.What are the three basic components of a laser? ›
The critical components of a laser are a gain medium, a pump source, and a resonator.How many types of laser are there? ›
Lasers are classified into 6 types based on the types of medium used in them, and they are: Solid-state lasers.How many levels are there in laser? ›
principles of lasers
… difficulty is overcome in the four-level laser, where an extra transition state is located between metastable and ground states.
1000W fiber laser cutting machine is used to cut 6mm thick carbon steel with a maximum cutting speed of 1.4m per minute. 1500W fiber laser cutting machine is used to cut 6mm thick carbon steel with a maximum cutting speed of 1.5m per minute.
How do you calculate laser cutting time? ›
- Total Piercing Time = Number of Pieces * Part Pierce Time.
- Total Cutting Time = (Inches of Cut / Part Cut Time) * 60.
- Run = 3600 / ((Total Pierce Time + Total Cutting Time) * Material Multiplier)
- Run Type = PCS/HR.
Laser cutting of non-metal materials. A wide range of non-metal materials such as plastics, organic materials, ceramics and also composite materials can be cut with the laser at high processing speeds as well. Organic materials and plastics can be cut with laser technology with excellent cutting edge quality.What are 5 applications for a laser cutter? ›
Laser cutting disadvantages include: limitations on material thickness, harmful gases and fumes, high energy consumption, and upfront costs.How thick of steel can a 4000 watt laser cut? ›
A 4,000-watt laser can process up to 1.0-inch-thick carbon steel, and a 6,000-watt laser can process 1-5/8-inch-thick carbon steel. Oxygen always is used to process plate in this material thickness range.How thick can a 100 watt laser cut? ›
Highest Class Laser Tube
The 100W laser tube can cut plywood as thick as 20mm and create high-resolution engravings.
A CO2 laser will not be suitable for cutting steel. You would likely need a very powerful fiber laser to cut steel, and even then you have to take into consideration the reflective properties of steel which can pose danger to the machine.How thin can a laser cut metal? ›
Cut width can be extremely small with laser cutting, less than 0.001 inch, and dimensional accuracy is extremely precise, at about ± 0.0005 inch. This accuracy is very useful for producing the jagged teeth used in some cutting tools.Can laser cut through diamond? ›
The modern technology of the laser (light am- plification by the stimulated emission of radia- tion) has penetrated the ancient art of diamond cutting. The use of lasers represents one of the greatest technological advances for the diamond cutter since the advent of the conventional dia- mond saw in the 1930s.What is the best surface for laser cutting? ›
Wood is the best laser cutting material for those that are new to the process. Laser cutting works with all types of wood. However, the thickness is also an important factor to note. Common types of woods used in laser cutting are Plywood, bamboo, and MDF (medium-density fiberboard).
How do you stop a laser cut from burning? ›
- Use Transfer Tape on the Surface of the Wood. ...
- Modify the CO2 Laser Power Settings. ...
- Apply a Coating. ...
- Submerge Thin Wood in Water. ...
- Use Air Assist.
While there are some laser cutters that can cut material as thick as 20 mm, most machines work on materials closer to 0.5-12 mm thick, depending on what's being cut.How do I prepare for laser cutting? ›
- Ensure all text and fonts used are an outline or converted to paths. ...
- Release all clipping masks.
- Ungroup all items by selecting all Object > Ungroup. ...
- Make sure that all your vector paths are continuous.
Laser hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry. This section highlights OSHA standards and documents related to laser hazards.What is a Level 1 laser? ›
A Class 1 laser is considered safe based upon current medical knowledge. This class includes all lasers or laser systems which cannot emit levels of optical radiation above the exposure limits for the eye under any exposure conditions inherent in the design of the laser product.What is the difference between Class 1 and Class 4 laser? ›
The classifications categorize lasers according to their ability to produce damage in exposed people, from class 1 (no hazard during normal use) to class 4 (severe hazard for eyes and skin).What is the most powerful type of laser? ›
Known as the Zetawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort pulse laser System (ZEUS), it produces an ultra-short, extremely powerful pulse of just 25 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second – or to put it another way, a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 million years.What is a Type 3 laser? ›
Class 3 lasers are medium power lasers or laser systems that require control measures to prevent viewing of the direct beam. Control measures emphasize preventing exposure of the eye to the primary or specularly reflected beam.What color is a Class 4 laser? ›
Looking at the laser dot from a 1,000 milliwatt (1 Watt) Class 4 blue (445 nm) laser beam for more than 1 minute is an eye hazard within 1.5 ft (44 cm) of the laser.What are the pros and cons of laser cutting? ›
Some of the benefits include that it can cut through all materials and does not require tooling costs. Also, it does not experience wearing out of the surfaces and works with high accuracy and precision. The major disadvantage of laser beam machining is that it requires a massive amount of money to maintain.
Is laser cutting cheaper than CNC? ›
One of the main reasons why people choose CNC cutting over laser cutting is that it is more affordable. Not only are CNC cutting machines cheaper to purchase, but their power consumption costs are also lower.Which is better CNC or laser? ›
CNC is the best option for cutting and carving thick materials like MDF, aluminum, wood, acrylic, etc. Whereas laser cutting produces far superior results for cutting thin workpieces. Therefore, laser cutters are ideal for applications that require shallow cuts with high speed and accuracy.What Cannot be cut by laser? ›
Materials you should not process with a laser
Leather and artificial leather that contains chromium (VI) Carbon fibers (Carbon) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
Color-coding allows the laser cutter to distinguish between different types of cuts. Universal laser cutters use eight RGB colors: 00000 (black), ff0000 (red), 00ff00 (green), ffff00 (yellow), 0000ff (blue), ff00ff (magenta), 00ffff (cyan), ff6600 (orange).What file type is best for laser cutting? ›
Vector files are the most popular type of file for laser cutting because they can be scaled to any size without losing quality. Raster files are also popular because they can be easily converted into vector files.What type of file is used for laser cutting? ›
The only image format that the laser cutter accepts is the Windows Bitmap (BMP) format. The bitmap must be monochrome (1-bit). The laser beam burns the pixels row by row in the bitmap – the laser is on for black pixels and off for the white (background) pixels.What is the thickness limit for laser cutting? ›
Generally, when laser cutting metals with fiber lasers, the upper limit on thickness of the metal sheet to be cut is around 20 – 25 mm for mild steels. Above this thickness, higher power CO2 lasers are used but with specialized fiber lasers for a higher price, it is possible to cut thicker plates than this.