Mechanical Engineering Blog

Aluminium Laser Cutting

Aluminium Laser Cutting

Aluminium laser cutting is essential for cutting complex shapes while maintaining great quality. Many manufacturers don’t perform such jobs because of the difficulty level. Providing excellent quality requires know-how and experience to overcome the challenges offered by aluminium laser cutting.

Aluminium Cutting Challenges

Aluminium cutting may not always be the simplest of tasks. Due to the material’s reflective nature, a laser beam can bounce back off it and damage the laser cutter. Stainless steel is notorious for similar reasons but aluminium surpasses the AISI grades in cutting difficulty.

Often times when discussing these matters, coating the material with a non-reflective substance comes up. Of course, it does not alleviate the danger. As soon as the coating is pierced and the aluminium starts melting, the highly reflective surface is revealed.

Those problems arise more often with aluminium grades that have less alloying elements, for example AW 1050. The elements reduce the reflective effect of aluminium alloys.

burred sheet vs deburred sheet
A burr can ruin a metal’s appearance

Aluminium also tends to leave a burr. Depending on the manufacturer, those burrs are either removed mechanically or avoided altogether with a precise machine setup. Avoiding is, of course, preferable as any extra operation costs the client.

Choosing the Suitable Laser Cutting Machine

Firstly, laser cutting is definitely the way to go when cutting aluminium. Its high speed combined with the right expertise makes a burr-free cutting process possible, as our partners have proven. It’s still important to consider the aluminium grade. Higher grades with more alloying elements are easier to cut.

Another thing to keep in mind – does the manufacturer have a fibre laser or a CO2 laser? Fibre lasers are better suited to cut reflective materials because of their build. CO2 lasers have a series of mirrors inside. The build is more susceptible to damage by the bouncing laser beam.

More power leads to better results. Just in case you are still considering CO2 lasers for aluminium cutting, remember that their power output is significantly smaller with similar parameters. We advise to choose a powerful fibre laser. It ensures a good outcome, if used properly.

Fighting aluminium’s reflection is doable through the use of right focusing distances. Keeping the focus point on the farther end of the material also helps to reduce the occurrence of dross.

Laser cutting aluminium is the right choice until thicknesses up to 6…8 mm. From there, the quality suffers noticeably and the material needs extra machining. We would not advise laser cutting past 20 mm.

When going past 8 mm, water jet is the suitable cutting technology. Combining speed, quality and a cheaper hourly rate makes water jet cutting the better choice for thick aluminium plates.

Aluminium Laser Cutting Service

While there are lots of aluminium laser cutting companies, it may not always be easy to find one who offers a good service. As stated, aluminium cutting provides some challenges. Providing solutions needs know-how and experience.

Therefore, Fractory only uses partners who have proven their expertise in the field. You can rely on us to deliver guaranteed quality aluminium cut parts.

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