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 is protruding above the surface area (has tipped upward) , a collision is likely to occur. Damage to the laser head is often considerable and costly. Tipping is most common when processing thinner materials.
Fortunately, most crashes are avoidable. With a preview of the nest, an experienced operator can often recognize where there is potential for an issue. The operator can pay extra attention when the machine is cutting in that area and take steps to avoid trouble. This can include slowing the cutting process slightly. A few seconds lost in cutting speed is better than hours of machine down-time replacing a laser head.
In addition to reducing the cutting speed, part tip-ups can often be avoided 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.