Can You Laser Cut Aluminium: What You Need to Know About Aluminium Laser Cutting
Whether you are etching an engraving into aluminium or attempting to cut thin aluminium sheets, many factors need to be considered when laser cutting this metal.
At KNS Metals in Australia, we have explored the different properties of aluminium and the various tools, safety precautions and technique choices to ensure a successful cut.
What are the Characteristics of Aluminium?
Aluminium is a softer metal than other options on the market, such as stainless steel. This added delicacy can make it challenging to cut with a laser, but not impossible. The properties within aluminium affect its reflectivity, molecular structure, and thermal conductivity, making it react differently to laser beams.
Challenges of Cutting Aluminium Laser Cutting
Stable, solid molecular structures are considerably easier to cut through than soft ones. In the same way you shine a light onto a reflective material, the light of a laser tends to bounce or scatter in the same way. This presents a problem for laser cutting.
Aluminium is also a heat-conductive material, which means it quickly absorbs heat. When the heat dissipates, smooth laser processing becomes difficult, requiring said heat to make a clean cut.
Due to the metal’s reflective nature, a laser beam can bounce off its surface, potentially damaging the laser cutter itself. To avoid these problems, coating the aluminium with a non-reflective substance is often done as one of several precautions, but it does not completely alleviate the safety risk to the worker and their equipment. Therefore, finding the right tools and following diligent safety protocols is essential for using a metal laser cutter on aluminium in Australia.
Benefits of the Aluminium Laser Cutting Technique in Australia
Even though it can be challenging, several benefits come from using a laser cut technique on metal like aluminium.
- Higher Precision: A metal laser cutter incision is narrow and smooth. They often use adjustable focus knobs, making aluminium cutting more effective by eliminating the issue of finding the right height and focus position.
- High Speed: Laser cutting has a faster cutting speed, making it ideal for aluminium. The quicker speeds ensure a smoother edge and a clean finish.
- High Efficiency: An effective laser cut technique uses non-contact processing. This removes issues surrounding the wear and tear of tools and moulds and saves time while working. It also helps to prevent any impressions or damage from making its way into the material.
Laser Cutting Safety Precautions
Whenever a metal laser cutter is used in Australia, it is essential to enforce strict safety precautions to prevent injuries and damaged equipment.
Every workplace using a laser to cut aluminium should follow a selection of safety precautions, including:
- Never operate the metal laser cutter unattended
- Keep a properly maintained fire extinguisher in the area in the event of a fire
- Keep the area free of hazards like clutter, debris, and flammable materials
- Keep the interior of the metal laser cutter clean and free of debris
- Do not look directly into the laser beam to maximise safety and avoid serious injury
How to Cut Aluminium with a Laser
Despite the challenges, aluminium can be successfully cut with a CO2 laser or fibre laser with the proper precautions. It is the high-speed, focused laser beams that make laser cutting possible, along with added features like a metal cutting head offering protection against spark reflection.
High pressure and gas assist features are also essential to achieve a clean-cut edge with aluminium cutting. Combined, these features effectively remove molten material quickly, preventing the build-up of a rough edge. Also, the faster you cut, the smoother the border will be, so higher-wattage lasers will offer better performances when cutting aluminium.
The “Aluminium Cutting System” Technique
Most modern equipment uses the “Aluminium Cutting System” technique as part of precautions to protect the lasers and help cut these tricky materials. The system incorporates a back reflection system that detects if too much laser radiation is reflected through the optics. This triggers the laser to shut down before any considerable damage is done. Without this technique, there is no clear way to identify potentially hazardous reflections that could generate safety risks while processing aluminium.
Work with Experienced Metal Laser Cutter Professionals in Australia
If you are in need of professional metal laser cutting services in Australia, speak with our team at KNS Metals and learn how you can meet all your needs with a provider who understands the local market.
Our commitment to quality, customer service and efficiency drives everything we do, making us one of Melbourne’s leading professionals in the industry. To learn more about what we can offer any business across Australia, contact one of our in-house experts at (03) 9706 4808 or submit an online enquiry.