Laser Processing Exotic Metals

Believe it or not, exotic metals aren’t hard to process; but it can present some challenges. Here are a few things to consider:

·   Request the material tech table from your machine tool vendor for the exotic materials you wish to cut. Most will typically provide this upon request. In many cases the program will be sent via e-mail and can be uploaded on to the machine’s controller. The applications department is also a source for tips, tricks and things to watch out for in the set-up and cutting of the material.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

·   Oxygen and Nitrogen are the preferred gasses for processing exotic metals. With titanium, however, results are better and higher feed rates are achieved when argon mix is employed as the assist gas.

·   It’s best to crawl before you walk so start out with the easier and least expensive of the exotic metals.  Grade 50 and Grade 80, AR-240 and AR-400 Abrasion resistant plate, T-1 Alloy, A1 & D2 Tool Steel and Armor plating are very close in laser cutting difficulty as compared to the run-of-the-mill materials that nearly everyone cuts on a daily basis. 

·   Once you have some experience move on to more expensive and more difficult materials.  Brass, Copper, Titanium, Nickel and Platinum.  You will also find that due to reflectivity that brass and copper are most easily processed with a Fiber laser.  A fiber laser will also process these materials in much greater thicknesses than it’s CO2 counterpart.