During the cutting process the laser head is traversing to its next cut often very fast and close to the material surface. If a piece of material has tipped up and is protruding above the surface area, a collision is likely to occur. In most instances, damage to the laser head is both considerable and costly.
Although tip-ups aren’t exclusive to steel and aluminum, it’s important to be aware of the damage they can do to a machine. Be especially vigilant when cutting thin metals as this is when tipping is most common. Fortunately, however, most crashes are avoidable. With a preview of the nest, the operator can often times recognize where there is potential for an issue in order to pay extra attention when the machine is cutting in that area. This can include slowing the cutting process slightly. A few seconds lost in cutting speed is better than hours lost replacing a laser head.
In addition to reducing the cutting speed, part tip-ups can be combatted by implementing micro tabbing. Most laser programming software today offers an auto tabbing feature where one or more small tabs (typically about 0.020 in.) are placed in the profile of the part to secure the part to the sheet skeleton. Once the entire nest is complete and the skeleton is off-loaded, the parts can be easily released from the skeleton. With good quality, flat material and parts that are large enough to lay on two or three of the table grates, the need to tab parts is usually unnecessary. When in doubt, micro-tabbing is a smart approach to avoid laser head crashes, especially when lasers are automated and operating in a lights out environment.