The ability to produce lasers powerful enough to cut through metals is one of the most impressive applications of light technology in the current century. It increases the accuracy of metal fabrication to within millimeters of the required specifications. This accuracy helps create parts that fit better with each other, ensuring greater durability and performance.
The only thing wrong about current laser technology is that people have little idea of how it actually works. Most observers think that a laser either already has the power necessary to cut through metal coming out of its source, or that it’s amplified by a combination of lenses to reach such power.
The first assumption is completely wrong, as there is no way to channel the laser in the direction the cutter wants without slicing the entire workspace in half. The second assumption is half-right, but stumbles at the method of amplification. There is a lens at the end of the laser to concentrate the power towards a specific point, but this is more for the sake of accuracy than power.
Lasers are not nearly as powerful enough to cut metal on their own; lenses only concentrate the power they already have, but don’t add anything to their original power. Surprisingly, lasers get their amplified power from carbon dioxide, along with some other gases.
The CO2 laser uses a gaseous mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium. Some lasers, however, include xenon and/or hydrogen into their mixture. When a laser passes through the chamber containing these gases, the electrons excite the molecules.
Molecule and Photon Bumping
First, the nitrogen starts vibrating, these molecules the transfer the energy to the CO2 when the two bump into each other. The helium then takes away the heat these molecules generate through their excitement, leaving only the amplified photons to exit the chamber. A lens at the end of the chamber concentrates the excited photons to a single point, giving machinists a powerful and accurate cutting tool.
The benefits of using laser technology can only mean good news for any industry. If your company thinks it can make good use of laser cutting services, contact us today. Our teams can give you all the information regarding how laser cut parts can better serve you and your business.