Cutting steel with laser cutters is relatively simple, fast, and more cost-effective. The lasers are also computer-operable, making them simple to use. However, if you happen to be a newbie, pointers can help you get the most out of your project. So, keep reading to find out some tips on cutting steel with laser cutters.
The guidelines we mention are suitable for beginners and experts alike. So, if you're an expert, don't shy away from this article. There's always something to learn every day. So, keep a clear head and follow the instructions carefully.
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Many cannot help but wonder if it’s possible to cut steel with a CO2 laser. The answer is both yes and no. CO2 is mainly suitable for wood. For steel, Fiber cutters are much more reliable. So, let’s not beat around the bush. Here are the tips you should keep in mind while cutting steel.
This one is a no-brainer. But you will be surprised by how many people make this simple mistake. Depending on the project, you will need to choose the proper steel with the appropriate thickness. This, in turn, will determine the size and power of your laser cutter.
For 0.5 to 1 mm thick steel, a 150W laser cutter is good enough. But for 2 mm or more, a 500W power laser cutter is recommended. Hence, choosing the proper steel comes first and foremost. Otherwise, your steel will burn, evaporate, and cut unevenly.
The laser machines can usually read two types of image files: vector and raster. But for steel laser cutters, vector files are used. So, create a 2D vector file where the lines are specified for cutting. This way, your laser will read the image file and start processing.
Proper software is also necessary for making these files. You can find the software easily on the internet. Pieces of software like Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, and SOLIDWORKS are preferable. They are easy to operate and user-friendly.
If you’re a beginner, then try to keep your projects simple. If you have to cut a piece of steel multiple times, then do this. Create different designs on each file. And then insert them one after another. That way, you will have no overlapping.
Creating too many unspecified designs in one file will complicate things. The laser cutter might not understand all the lines, the lines might overlap, and you might ruin your whole project. So, be patient and try to do things one after another.
Proper vector lining is of paramount importance. For example, let's say you're cutting a square shape from the steel. Then all the lines must be adequately traced by the laser's focus. For that, you must ensure clear vector lines.
If a single black line is missing from the image, there will be a problem. Hence, the steel won’t cut off cleanly from the host. So, you must make sure to create the vector file properly. And also, edit out any missing lines as soon as possible.
For safety purposes, you can add corner filets to your steel. Usually, when the steel is cut, you can observe sharp edges. This is because your vector file was unspecified. Hence, the sharp edges can be a health hazard.
Hence, you can edit out your file and add round corners to the steel. Just open up your AutoCAD software first. Then create the shape of the steel you’ll cut. Finally, round out the corners of the steel shape. So, follow these steps, and you'll have clean corner filets.
Your laser cutter can do almost everything, from cutting to drilling, piercing, and etching. You can do many types of steel projects with your laser cutter. So, if you have a lot of work to do, specify each cutting type. Properly manage the vector lines and what they indicate.
For the lines, you can also use different color schemes. For example, you can use red for cutting, blue for etching, and yellow for drilling. You and your laser cutter will easily understand what to do. So, be sure to follow this crucial tip.
Drilling holes in a steel surface can be tricky. So, you can use your trusty laser to weaken it. So, we would suggest you first etch around the hole area. Then, carefully create a small piercing in the middle using the laser. The piercing must be smaller than the hole as it will act as a guide.
Piercing like this on cold steel will ensure the proper tightness of the hole. Especially if it's for threaded holes. But make sure you don't prolong the laser procedure. Because this will melt and evaporate the steel. Finally, drill the hole using a bit and you should be done.
You might have to cut different parts from the same piece of metal. We would recommend not doing this if you’re a beginner. But if you wish to be economical, then go for it. However, make sure to keep the proper distance between each part of the steel.
A general rule of thumb is to create a distance equal to the thickness of the steel. That way, you don’t risk burning the steel between the two spaces. Also, you should outline a single piece of steel as a whole. And try to isolate it as much as possible.
Now you know all the crucial tips on cutting steel with laser cutters. To put it all together, choose the proper steel. Then use the appropriate software and don't complicate your designs. Ensure good vector lining and put in corner filets for safety. Specify the right indicators for cutting, and maintain a suitable distance.
And finally, if you need to create any holes, use your laser to make a petite piercing. That will act as a guide for your hole. So, we hope that you were able to learn something today. Thank you for being here till the end. Stay safe and enjoy the art of laser cutting.