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Top Secret to Burr Free Laser-Cutting

29th Mar 2019
Read Time:7.77 min
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  • burrs
  • Carbon steel cutting
  • Logical Science

You might have witnessed in your regular day at shop floor that the metal sheets of cut parts are offloaded by an operator.

You might have witnessed in your regular day at shop floor that the metal sheets of cut parts are offloaded by an operator. Thereafter, cut pieces are picked up out of the nest to divulge clean edges and here the sheets are ready for the next operation. Is it looking ideal?

Quite true, but sometimes burrs on the surface will remain. Such defects remain, its intensity may vary from minor to major but an operator can reduce or avoid such burrs by adjusting the cutting parameters correctly. To discover perfect settings, operators have to know about the process in which laser cutting beam assist gas and workpiece adjusted to create the perfect cut edges.

It is like revealing the secret of burr free laser cutting. But is it some sort of magic? Maybe, not. Instead of that, there are strategies that revolve around one single component of laser cutting. These elements are under the control of the operator.

  • Let us see which parameter are needed to be changed

Generally, the modern machine controls the laser beam elements like the beam profile and beam power (at the maximum). The beam focus that is used should consist of a particular grade, standards, and thickness based on optical focus.

In order to match the true focus position on the workpiece for each lens, modern systems, automated machine and technicians usually check the ample number of parameters that includes beam delivery system, beam alignment, centering the nozzle, and precisely focusing the position and calibrating the nozzle.

Under some circumstances, overflushing can occur, if focus spot is set too high in the cut and it can leave spiky dross, while too low cut can reduce the cutting speed, leaving beads.

Remaining parameters consist of gas pressure, commanded laser power-frequency duty, nozzle standoff, and cutting frequency.

In modern systems, maximum parameters are automated which includes altering the nozzle to a larger or smaller diameter. It simply means that gas pressure, focus position and cutting speed is adjusted by the operator standing by the machine plant. It happens, that some of them may do whatever they find necessary to complete the job, and forgets to adjust the parameters in the right direction.

If an operator observes a burr on the bottom of the stainless steel part then firstly the operator would slow down the cutting speed of the laser beam. This reaction is justified because in his perception cutting speed is too high and a problem arises from it. But after slowing down the gas pressure, the operator generally finds a bigger burr. So, here the creation of a burr depends on how the beam, gas, and material interact.

  • How are burrs formed?

Let’s start with the basics-

Intense energy emerged out of laser beam brings the metal above its melting point and thereby metal exceeds the melting temperature, during this, a strong action of the assist gas removes the metal from the kerf. While using nitrogen, which is an inert gas, the cutting procedure totally depends on the beam’s energy to melt the metal. But when oxygen assist gas is used to cut the carbon steel, it seems that hot metal interacts with oxygen gas which creates an exothermic reaction and adds heat.

In both of the cases, burrs are created due to molten metal which solidifies before it can be removed. That solid material becomes tougher at the bottom of the kerf, forming a burr.

  • Dynamics of the Gas

Particularly, when it is concerned with nitrogen assist gas, the operator should ideally alter the efficiency, quality, and cost respectively. Nitrogen assist gas can reach up to 35 to 50 percent of the variable costs, so it is important to control the consumption of the gas while laser cutting. Hence, the first cutting parameter that should be considered is to minimize the nozzle diameter. It means you have to select the smallest nozzle diameter in order to achieve the desired quality of performance.

It should be noted that when it comes to assist gas flow, nozzle size and diameter make big difference. If the nozzle diameter is increased by the factor of 2, the flow rate of the gas will increase by the factor of 4.

When you decide the smallest nozzle diameter size then you can easily determine the minimum pressure required to get a good-quality of laser cutting with no burrs. Further, you can proportionally increase your flow rate with good molten-metal separation without going to high on pressure.

  • But it not always necessary that slow speed is better

The logic we learned before was based on lower and smaller for gas pressure and nozzle can’t be implemented on cutting speed. Hence, when operator slows the cutting speed you end up injecting more heat than required in the kerf along with this temperature also rises and causes vaporization that disturbs the gas flow. As a result, this disturbance creates more burrs and here, the operator makes the quality worse instead of making it better.

But, the operator can actually save the material from burrs by precisely increasing the cutting speed. This increase in speed would minimize the heat and the ablation while restores the gas flow dynamics to its appropriate state.

  • Carbon steel cutting by assist oxygen gas

While shifting to oxygen cutting, the exothermic reaction should be accurately considered because here, oxygen purity level plays a crucial role. It is observed that oxygen-cutting is highly benefited from the higher level of oxygen gas purity. We can increase the cutting speed by 30 to 40 percent while production with 99.95 percent of oxygen global purity.

  • Logical Science

It is very necessary to check entire parameters set for achieving clean cut edge and avoid burrs in the metal Sheet. It highly relies on the gas dynamic and the laser beam parameters.

Hence, burr-free laser cutting is all about making sure that the beam parameters and gas dynamics work proportionally together to assure that the correct amount of molten metal evacuates from the kerf and the assist gas work simultaneously.

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Author Bio


Alex is a marketing manager at SLTL Group with 10+ years of experience in Fiber Laser cutting and welding machines development expert in Robot programming and development of Robotic Laser cutting and welding machines.