The general rule of thumb for laser cutting with CO2 machines is that you can’t cut a hole that is smaller than the material thickness.
We looked at this in a previous blog post on hole sizes.
One of our customers that operates in the Aerospace sector recently asked to produce a part that involved cutting and tapping a M1.4 hole through 1.5mm aluminium.
The software we use from laser cutting manufacturers Trumpf advised that this wasn’t possible and that we could only etch the hole to be then drilled and tapped. However, we decided to override the software and then cut the hole at 1.1mm as per the CAD screenshot below:
We programmed the laser to cut the hole on small contour which gives more control and slows the laser cutting process down to maintain the cut quality. The pierce point as per the screenshot below was 0.3mm and you can then see the lead in to the 1.2mm hole in green.
We had 27 holes to laser cut and the operator proceeded to cut the part making sure the technology tables used were setup to correctly cut this type of aluminium. The result was better then we thought and the hole cut first time without any changes to the laser cutting settings.
Although the picture below doesn’t quite do justice to the hole quality we were pleased that the hole cut cleanly without any burr or splatter and we were able to progress to tapping the holes.
If you have any questions regarding this process or would like to discuss any laser cutting projects please contact a member of the GFL sales team today.