No matter if they are fiber or CO2, lasers represent a serious investment for any fabricator or metal service center. To maximize a ROI, it is critical to optimize laser performance and extend the life of its components.
Known as “pierce points” the cutting operation is generally initiated through a concentration of energy from the laser head onto the material. This sudden burst of energy takes a toll on the laser head until it eventually requires replacement. And at ten thousand dollars and more, replacing the head of a laser isn’t a trivial cost.
The answer is to reduce the number of pierce points needed to complete a job. Over the course of a day, week, months reducing pierce points can greatly extend the life of the laser head. Reducing pierce points is best accomplished by processing as many parts as possible on each sheet.
Common Line Cutting, Pierce Point Merging, Bridge & Chain Cutting, and Manual Piercing are a few ways to extend the life of the laser head. These cutting methods allow multiple parts to be processed using a single cut. In addition to decreasing the number of pierce points, these methods accelerate cutting cycles and save on gas usage.
A “soft” pierce is yet another technique that extends torch life. Here, the laser makes a series of pulsations rather than a sudden burst. This approach often eliminates a need for a lead-in as it allows the cutting path to be started on an actual cut line. While this method saves wear on the leaser head, it also adds more time to the job.