Many metal fabrication hobbyists now own laser cutting CNC machines. However, some of those hobbyists may notice that the quality of the laser cuts is no longer as high as it used to be when the machine had just been procured. This article discusses some of the possible causes of that low quality performance that you should investigate.
Check the Optics
You may have forgotten to recalibrate the optics system after conducting maintenance work on your machine. That oversight could have compromised the quality of the laser beam that is used to cut metals. Another problem could be that the optics system components, such as the lens, may wear out quickly in case it was not restored to the settings recommended by the equipment manufacturer. You should therefore ensure that you double check the settings of the optics system and confirm that they are what the manufacturer recommended.
Check the Assist Gas
Laser cutters usually require an assist gas in order to cut materials effectively. However, each assist gas has a different effect on the material being cut. For instance, oxygen can leave an oxidised edge on the material that has been cut. You can switch to another assist gas, such as nitrogen, in case you want cuts with no oxidised edge. You should also make sure that you maintain the gas delivery lines well so that contaminants, such as moisture, do not compromise the quality of the cuts that you make.
Check the Chiller
Laser cutting systems require specific operating temperatures in order to function effectively. The defects that you see in the cuts that you make may be caused by a problem in the temperature-control system of your machine. For instance, a refrigerant leak may have gone unnoticed. That leak could have lowered the ability of the machine to keep itself cool as it operates. You can test the refrigerant hoses for leaks by placing soapy water on their surface. Bubbles will quickly appear at the point where a leak is present. Seal that leaking section and top up the refrigerant before you start using the laser cutter again.
It is usually easier to prevent a problem instead of solving it once it occurs. It is therefore advisable for you to be vigilant about conducting preventive maintenance on your metal cutting equipment. Talk to a metal cutting expert for help in developing a PM schedule that is designed for your machine usage patterns.