Steel Fabrication: What Impacts the Quality of a Laser-Cut Edge?

CNC laser cutting is a technique widely used to cut various materials, such as metal, wood, paper, leather, plastics, etc. in the manufacturing industry. This cutting process delivers highly accurate edge cuts needed to make high-quality products and maintain consistency in production. Take note, however, that merely using CNC laser cutting equipment does not guarantee high-quality products and consistency in production. Those using laser cutting equipment need to be well-versed with the ins and outs of the laser cutting process.

If you are a steel fabricator, being aware of the factors that affect the quality of a laser-cut finish is the first and most important step in ensuring you get the best results possible out of the CNC laser cutting process. Below are some factors that impact the quality of a laser-cut edge.

Material thickness

Gone are the days when steel manufacturers had to compromise on the quality of the cut edge just so they can cut thicker material. Back then, grooves on the cut-edge become more conspicuous, as material thickness increased. 

Nowadays, however, a more laser-grade type of steel is available on the market. If you need to cut thicker material, use this type of steel-grade to ensure a high-quality cut edge.

Laser power

The more powerful the laser beam of your equipment is, the more effective it is at reducing the effects of striations and improving the general appearance of the cut edge. As striations are more prominent when cutting thicker sheets of steel, higher powered lasers will need to be used. Using a more powerful laser allows for easier cutting of thicker sheets of steel and hence delivers a cut edge of superior quality compared to that produced with less powerful lasers.

Laser technology

Laser technology has advanced fast over the years, and the improvements keep coming. For instance, newer fibre-delivered laser technologies provide much faster cutting speeds when compared to their well-established CO2 counterparts, while maintaining consistent cut edge. But, the cut edge quality significantly reduces with an increase in sheet thickness. As a result, it may be best to rely on the CO2 laser's beam quality when cutting thicker steel.

Material quality

The quality of the material that you will be laser cutting also influences the quality of the cut edge. Make sure that your steel is dirt-free, rust-free, and without any other forms of surface impurities. The best way to ensure you are using material that is suitable for laser cutting is to get it from a reputable steel supplier.