Blog

  • A beginners guide to laser cutting metals

    September 24, 2015

    If you are a designer and are new to Laser Cutting this reference guide will help you to understand the capabilities and limitations of the technology.

    There are some basic rules that we have to adhere to so that we can ensure we get a quality cut every time.

    Thickness

    We are able to cut up to 25mm in Mild & Stainless Steel and 15mm in Aluminium. The cut quality does de-grade as the material gets thicker because this is at the limit of the machinery. Complex shapes and patterns are also more difficult in 20/25mm as heat build-up in the steel makes cutting more difficult. This is an unfortunate side effect of laser cutting.

    Low silicone Laser Plate helps us to achieve good quality results in thicker materials, however it is more expensive than standard Mild Steel plate.

    Edge Quality

    Stainless steel will always have a clean cut edge with no burr. However,  Aluminium in thickness’ greater than 5mm, will need any burr removing, we are able to arrange for parts to be de-burred if required.

    We use Oxygen (O2) and Nitrogen (N2) as assist gasses. They are fired through the nozzle along with the Laser beam at pressures of up to 20bar depending on the thickness of the sheet.

    Aluminium and Stainless Steel are both cut with Nitrogen (N2) which leaves a clean edge that can be painted on without any further procedures.

    Mild Steel up to 12mm thick can be cut with either Oxygen or Nitrogen. However, because Oxygen cutting requires less gas pressure the costs are far cheaper than cutting with Nitrogen.

    Cutting Mild Steel with Nitrogen can be advantageous in further processes such as Powder Coating. If the material is Powder Coated and the loose oxidised edge flakes away, there will be gaps in the coating and the material could start to rust or corrode. If there is no oxidised edge, the paint will adhere more strongly greatly reducing the chance of any flaking and corrosion.

    Alternatively parts can be cut with Oxygen and cleaned up after by going through a de-burring process.

    Up to 15mm we will guarantee a square and flat edge that requires no dressing for welding or further application.

    Holes

    As a rule of thumb, when Laser Cutting steel, we don’t like any hole diameter to be less than the thickness of the material. i.e. A hole less than 20mm diameter in 20mm thick material could prove difficult to cut. In this situation we would recommend drilling and we are able to etch cross hairs on to the steel to assist in the drilling process.

    File types

    We are able to accept a few different filetypes. .dxf & .dwg are the preferred options. Please see our export guide to ensure that we are able to accept your drawings/files.

    Materials Guide

    Steel is the most common product that we laser cut, but with smaller machines aimed at the hobbyist becoming more popular, the technology is now being used to cut a variety of materials. Whilst Steel and Aluminium products are tough products to cut, hobbyists are cutting cheaper products such as Plywood and Plastics.

    Mild Steel

    There are many different types of steel available for many different applications, the most common type for engineering is Mild Steel. The most common grades are S275 or S355JR. These are structural grades but are the most readily available and are used for non structural applications as well. If you would like any more information on Steel Grades or would like some advice on what Steel to use for your project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We also have access to hardened armour plates such as  Hardox or Abro if your application requires it.

    Stainless Steel

    Most commonly known for cutlery, Stainless steel is a corrosion resistant steel that can be used for outdoor or marine applications where mild steel will not last. The two most common grades of Stainless Steel for general use are 304 and 316. 316 is marine grade and is therefore harder and can withstand the elements for a longer period of time. They are available in either standard mill finish, polished and brushed finish. There are other more complex, harder grades available such as duplex. We are able to process Stainless Steel up to 20mm thick.

    Galvanised/Zintec/Electro Zinc

    We are also able to cut Galvanised and Zintec or Electro-Galv materials, these materials usually have a mild steel core with a weather resistant coating. Parts can either be cut from pre-galvanised material or for a more sealed product can be galvanised after laser cutting.

    Aluminium

    Aluminium is a far lighter product than steel with a much lower density. Available in multiple grades for different applications the nature of this product causes it to burr when cut with a laser in thicknesses greater than 5mm.

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  • David Mellor Laser Cut Bench

    June 23, 2014

    Designed as a sculpture that blurs the line between form and function, this laser cut bench was commissioned by The Duke of Devonshire for the gardens at Chatsworth House in Devon.

    Featured by the Galvanizers Association we thought it was a great example of what can be achieved with Laser Cut and galvanized sections.

    The bench’s subtle yet distinctly modern aesthetic strikes a fine balance between the ornate splendour of the house and the contemporary sculpture exhibited in the grounds. Air-dried English oak tapered inserts were hand cut to form the seat, reflecting the woodland surroundings, and the 80 laser cut galvanized sections are combined with tapered concrete fins to create the full 7 metre radius of the curve.

    Sadly we didn’t cut the 80 galvanised sections, however we can still admire and share with you.

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