Manufacturing companies rely on their machines heavily to ensure productivity and return on the company’s investment. The machines are expensive, complex pieces of equipment that need to be unkept and monitored to avoid any issues arising and halting production or quality. Here are some essential laser cutting maintenances:
Having laser cutting machines operating at their top efficiency and productivity levels is so important to any metal fabricator. Most production processes start with laser cutting the sheet metal, and sets the standard for completion time and quality of the end product. A laser cutting machine in good condition cuts faster, cleaner and more precisely.
Laser Cutter Nozzle:
Most laser cutters these days have automatic nozzle changers programmed into the machine. At Black Lab Design, our Trumpf TruLaser has a camera in the nozzle that detects any surface scratches while cutting, which would lead to poor cutting quality and potentially wasted material.
When cleaning or checking the lens in the cutting head, it is a good idea to also check the condition of the ceramic nozzle holder. The ceramic is an important part of the control line system which maintains the correct height between the nozzle and work-piece. Check for damage such as cracks or chips.
Take note that the ceramic holder only fits in one direction and be careful not to damage the electrical contact pin on the cutting head.
There could be an issue with your beam alignment if you are noticing directional cutting problems with your laser. This is a commonly misunderstood cause.
A simple way to test the alignment is to center the beam through the nozzle tip at low power with sticky tape.
The image on the left shows the marks made by a laser that is aligned, the four dots are almost indistinguishable from each other. The image on the right shows the marks made from a laser that needs alignment.
Keep optics in check:
Laser cutting generates smoke which clouds the window and reduces beam quality. The optics need cleaning carefully as it’s essential to avoid creating scratches.
If spots on an optic are ingrained onto the surface, meaning they cannot be wiped away, they will continue to grow and will need to be replaced.
Watch the air:
Whether you are using air or gas cooling agents, chiller performance is all about temperature, so it’s important to keep an eye on the chiller’s temperature gauge.
Keep it clean:
Dirty slats are not only unsightly, but also ill-advised. The buildup of material on the slats can prevent material from lying flat during the cutting, which can affect cut quality, and can cause excessive damage to the material surface.
Additionally, clean its processing areas, drawers, slats, and pallet ways to remove all dust, dirt, and grease.
If you are using CO2 machines, apply soapy water to the resonator gas bottles when they are changed. This will alert you to a leak before it becomes problematic.
Todays laser cutting manufactures such as AMADA and TRUMPF are making it easier for fabricators to practice healthy maintenance to their machines.
There is no excuse, you schedule downtime to implement these essential laser cutting maintenances.. Most fabricators are on a service contract, but once a problem has occurred the issue will take alot longer to resolve than if maintenance was unkept.