The applications for laser cutting aluminium (‘aluminum’) are as diverse as the applications for aluminium itself – no wonder this is now the world’s second most widely used metal.
There’s usually a place for laser-cut aluminium
Aluminium’s characteristics include low weight, high tensile strength (typically 70 to 700MPa) to weight and ease of machining. Then there’s its excellent heat conductivity, ease of joining, reflectivity and good EMC screening properties. And high corrosion resistance, zero toxicity and non-magnetic properties…
Wherever these characteristics are required, there’s usually a place for precise, cost-effective cutting. And that often means sourcing precision laser-cut aluminium. Imagine the industries and applications where the above properties are important. If manufacture or fabrication of parts and components uses aluminium, aluminium must be cut. Where that happens, there’s a role for laser cutting – especially if precision, speed, tooling-free cutting, avoiding costly de-burring and lower energy use matter.
Transport, construction, packaging and more…
As the most widely used non-ferrous metal, aluminium’s applications embrace myriad aspects of transport, packaging, construction, energy transmission, electronic appliance components and even musical instruments.
With such widespread applications come the inherent challenges of laser cutting this material; laser-cutting aluminium isn’t easy. aluminium has a reputation as a difficult material to laser cut. Worked without suitable skills and care, aluminium has a propensity to burr. What’s more, its innate reflectance can cause problems with certain types of laser cutting apparatus – including serious damage to £250k cutters!
Is aluminium hard to laser cut? Not necessarily.
Maybe that’s why many laser cutters have traditionally been reluctant to work with this metal. Using the latest fibre laser equipment is one way around this. Equally important is the operator’s ability to properly understand and use the advanced settings of CO2 laser cutters. Doing so is key to avoiding issues caused by the reflectivity of sheet aluminium, or pooled molten metal, around cuts. From experience, we believe the issue is more about users than tools – another reason we’re so successful with aluminium laser cutting in so many sectors.
Speed, accuracy and cost advantages of laser-cut aluminium
Few applications have historically used aluminium and aluminium cutting as much as automotive and aerospace industry. In these and other aluminium-using fields, low volume production and prototyping lends itself to the speed and relatively low cost of laser cutting – often without the tooling costs associated with other manufacturing or prototyping methods. Then there’s money-saving ‘press relief’, where the speed, accuracy and cost of aluminium laser cutting helps keep production lines running – vital, given the crippling costs of unplanned downtime.
It’s the same with architectural products, where laser-cut aluminium parts support prototyping, bespoke and batch production. Similarly, in myriad other industries, from the traditional, such as manufacturing household utensils, to advanced defence or scientific applications.
Your industry too?
Whatever industry you’re in, imagine how you use aluminium, how you cut aluminium, and how aluminium laser cutting could help you build a more efficient, more profitable business.