Running a laser is expensive. Any movement made by the machine that doesn’t involve cutting material is a wasted movement, causing wear and tear on the machine and costing time. A laser cutting torch generates a sudden and forceful concentration of energy initiating the cutting sequence, referred to as a pierce. Each pierce point takes a toll on the torch and eats away at your man hours, because the thicker the material the longer it takes. Manufacturers need to cut as many parts on a sheet as possible, as fast as possible. By increasing your laser machine’s capacity, you also increase your profits. Simply put, the faster the work gets done the more money you will make. Let’s explore four advanced techniques to improve your laser cutting machine throughput:
- Common-line Nesting and Cutting
Common-line nesting is the practice of arranging parts so that neighboring parts have a shared edge whenever possible. This allows the laser to cut along a common-line, making a single cut where two may otherwise be needed. Pairs of parts may be common line nested and cut using a single pierce point. Common-line nesting for laser cutting requires experience and programmers should consider factors such as the amount of space around parts needed for lead- ins and lead-outs, material type and thickness and the shape of the parts.
- Laser Destruct
Laser Destruct is a programming technique which makes systematic cuts to keep internal contours from tipping up and causing the laser head to crash. Laser Destruct will cut a large internal contour into smaller pieces that can easily fall through the slats of the machine bed. Otherwise, the cut parts could potentially impede the laser. If during rapid movement interference happens, the machine must be stopped, causing wasted time as well as damage to the part and potentially to the machine. Additionally, using this technique eliminates the need to tab internal contours, preventing additional processes and extra manual labor.
- Part Avoidance
Part avoidance is an advanced technique that creates an optimal head motion path, eliminating costly head raise time while avoiding previously cut toolpaths. Any motion from the laser that does not involve cutting is a wasted movement. Part avoidance allows the head to stay down over uncut material and minimizes the chance of crashing into tipped-up parts, saving time and preventing potential damage to the machine as well as downtime.
Fly-cutting maximizes machine motion and minimizes pierces, saving time and money. The laser beam is turned off and on “on the fly” and is then repositioned quickly and accurately for the next cut. This technique can eliminate the need for lead- ins and lead-outs and keep the head moving at a rapid speed, increasing the machine’s throughput capacity. The ability to use this technique depends heavily on material thickness, so programmers will have to take material gauge into consideration.