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Walt Langhans
03-06-2013, 11:20 AM
Hi All

I was thinking about adding some metal accents to the stuff I do and I was wondering what it takes to cut metal with a laser? I would be working with copper and or brass and it would be pretty thin, probably not foil thin but not much thicker either. It is possible to get trough it with several passes with my 80watt, or is something more powerful needed, or I'm I just trying to use a screwdriver for a hammer?

Thanks

Rich Harman
03-06-2013, 11:30 AM
You need much more power to cut through metal. Copper is used in very high power lasers as a mirror so you can imagine that cutting through it is not easy. You can etch bare ferrous metals and distort it a bit if it's thin, but cutting through doesn't work.

You could coat the metal pieces, laser away the coating and then chemically etch it. I've done that a few times to make PCBs.

Walt Langhans
03-06-2013, 12:06 PM
You need much more power to cut through metal.

That's pretty much what I was afraid of. Do they make 'hobby' version of water jets? Or is there some other machine that doesn't cost 6 figure that can do the job?

Daniel Wolanski
03-06-2013, 12:57 PM
That's pretty much what I was afraid of. Do they make 'hobby' version of water jets? Or is there some other machine that doesn't cost 6 figure that can do the job?
Hi Walt,
I priced out a Chinese water jet at around 30K. Water jets are messy and required a lot of space and electricity. You will need (3) phase to run the pumps /intensifier. I also worried about the high pressure vessels made to "not so exacting standards".

G.Weike does make a metal cutting laser which has oxygen boost. It was discussed about a month ago hear on the forum. I was the originator of the thread. Of course it still won't cut brass, only steel.

I opted to buy a G.Weike laser but chose not to go for the metal cutting option. It is being built for me right now.

Matt Turner (physics)
03-06-2013, 1:07 PM
I wonder if something like a PCB router might work for you.

Neal Schlee
03-06-2013, 1:11 PM
Hi All

I was thinking about adding some metal accents to the stuff I do and I was wondering what it takes to cut metal with a laser? I would be working with copper and or brass and it would be pretty thin, probably not foil thin but not much thicker either. It is possible to get trough it with several passes with my 80watt, or is something more powerful needed, or I'm I just trying to use a screwdriver for a hammer?

Thanks

Kern Lasers has experience cutting thin metals with relatively low/medium powered co2 lasers using gas assist.

Neal

Rodne Gold
03-06-2013, 1:20 PM
A small rotary engraver will do shim stock or thin plate with ease , apart from profiling (which you could do with some fair detail if you use a sharp bit) you can also engrave or burnish detail too...

Matt Turner (physics)
03-06-2013, 1:33 PM
Kern Lasers has experience cutting thin metals with relatively low/medium powered co2 lasers using gas assist.

Neal

I'd decided not to mention our Kern machine in my reply, but since you bring it up . . .

Kern sells 150W lasers on metal cutting systems, but they use RF lasers (not glass tube) that can generate much higher peak powers to punch through the metal. A 150W RF laser is a different animal than a 150W glass tube.

You don't have to use oxygen to cut metals, but you do need a good air assist do get the melted metal out of the cut. I cut 1/8" of steel on our 400W system last week using 100 psi of compressed air. It took 2-3 seconds in one place to get the initial pierce through the sheet, and then I had to run at 0.13 in/s, but it worked.

Walt Langhans
03-06-2013, 2:44 PM
Thanks guys :)

Martin Boekers
03-06-2013, 5:03 PM
Would a plasma cutter work?

Jesse Anderson
03-06-2013, 8:34 PM
I was pretty surprised at the cost of plasma cutters. I would of been able to purchase a machine that was over 10 times bigger than my 2 epilog 75w. And it would of cost less than the 2 epilog's put together.

George Carlson
03-06-2013, 9:08 PM
I have one of those 6040 CNC routers. I've modified it a bit, but because it uses ball screws all around, it is a very strong and precise machine. I use it for milling circuit boards, but it also does a great job on thin brass and copper shim stock. It works great for cutting out copper head gaskets from 0.010" copper.