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Troubleshooting High-Power Laser Cutting: Expert Tips

1. State of the High-Power Laser Cutting Market

With the evolution of the laser industry and changes in downstream industry demands, high-power laser cutting equipment has gradually become a focal point of market interest.

With unparalleled advantages in speed and thickness, high-power laser cutting has now garnered widespread market recognition.

However, as high-power laser cutting technology is still in its early stages of widespread adoption, some operators are not fully proficient in managing this cutting process, and often find themselves at a loss when faced with issues during production debugging.

To address these problems in high-power cutting, cutting process technicians offer a few troubleshooting tips to help you adjust to the right laser cutting process parameters (Figure 1).

This will not only reduce the losses brought about by defective workpieces, but also enhance your cost-effectiveness from another perspective.

Figure 1: Cutting of Carbon Steel with 30kW Laser

2. Elimination of Defects

There are many reasons why high-power lasers can produce defective workpieces during the cutting process. The main issues can be diagnosed from the following four aspects.

(1) Basic Troubleshooting

If poor cutting results are detected, check for the following issues first:

1. Are the lenses contaminated?

2. Is the nozzle damaged?

3. Is the light centered on the nozzle?

4. Are there any leaks or damages in the ceramic body?

(2) Methods to Eliminate Sectional Stripes

1. Possible reasons:

Incorrect nozzle selection—too big of a nozzle; incorrect air pressure setting—overburning with stripes due to too high pressure; incorrect cutting speed—overburning caused by too slow or too fast speed.

2. Solutions:

Change the nozzle, opt for a smaller diameter nozzle, for instance, a high-speed D1.4 nozzle for 16mm carbon steel bright cutting, and a high-speed D1.6 nozzle for 20mm carbon steel bright cutting; reduce the cutting air pressure to improve the cut section quality; adjust the cutting speed, so that the power matches the cutting speed to achieve the effect shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparative Optimization Diagram of Cross-Sectional Stripes

(3) Methods to Eliminate Bottom Slag

1. Possible Causes:

The nozzle used may be too small, cutting focus mismatched; air pressure too low or too high, cutting speed too fast; poor material quality of the plate, bad plate quality, small nozzles have difficulty removing slag.

2. Solutions:

Replace with a larger diameter nozzle, adjust the focus to the appropriate position; increase or decrease air pressure until the airflow is suitable; choose good quality plate material. This can achieve the effect shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Comparison Chart of Bottom Slag Optimization

(4) Methods to Eliminate Bottom Burrs

1. Possible Causes:

The nozzle diameter is too small to meet the machining requirements; the negative defocus is mismatched and should be increased and adjusted to the appropriate position; the air pressure is too low, resulting in bottom burrs and insufficient cutting.

2. Solutions:

Use a larger diameter nozzle to increase the airflow; increase the negative defocus to enable the cutting section to reach the bottom position; increase the air pressure to reduce the bottom burrs. This can achieve the effect shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Comparison Chart of Bottom Burr Optimization

3. How to Determine if Cutting Speed is Appropriate According to Sparks

Figure 5: Spark Diffusion Diagram in Laser Cutting

(1) Appropriate Cutting Speed: The cutting sparks diffuse downwards, resulting in a smooth cutting surface without residue at the bottom.

(2) Excessive Cutting Speed: The cutting sparks tilt.

(3) Insufficient Cutting Speed: The cutting sparks do not diffuse and are few, clustering together.

In response to these issues, the power of the laser cutting machine (see Figure 6) is compatible with the most widely used 20,000 to 30,000 watts in the current sheet metal processing market. With bilateral servo motors, it offers swift speeds, precise positioning, and smooth operation.

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Figure 6: High Power Laser Cutter

4. Conclusion

The high cutting speed is a significant advantage of laser cutting and the primary reason many sheet metal processing users choose laser cutters. However, faster isn’t always better. Only by controlling the appropriate cutting speed can a smooth, slag-free cut surface and high-quality workpieces be achieved.

The power of the laser impacts the speed at which the laser equipment cuts the sheet metal, and this cutting speed, in turn, affects the quality of the sheet metal cutting. Under fixed laser power, an optimum range of cutting speeds exists. Speeds that are either too fast or too slow can adversely affect the smoothness of the cut cross-section.

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