New research on laser cutting for thick sheet metal

A German research project has made substantial progress in making diode laser cutting technology applicable for the sheet metal industry.

In collaboration with the University of Münster, Dortmund-based company LIMO has spent the last three years developing new processes to cut thick metal sheets using diode laser technology.

With the Federal Government-funded project – dubbed BRILAMET (brilliant high-power diode lasers for metal processing – now concluding, the company said industrial applications could soon be a reality.

“Using lasers to cut sheet metal is something that has typically been handled in the realm of CO2 and fibre lasers, [yet] this may not be the case for very much longer,” Dr Jens Meinschien, Vice President Innovations Management at LIMO, said in a press release – pointing out that the project has gained so much international attention that additional research will now be carried out in a broader European context.

“I am very excited to see what kind of additional expertise we can gain from [the EU-wide] research collaboration,” Dr Meinschien explained.

In detail, the German project involved the use of 2.5 kW and 4 kW high-power diode lasers (HPDL) that were coupled to standard industrial CNC machining equipment as used in modern trailer building.

By experimenting with different nozzle geometries and diameters, as well as with other variables, LIMO managed to make the cutting process suitable for thick sheet metal.

According to LIMO, the HPDL used were “well suitable” for the rapid and precise fine cutting of 6mm thick stainless steel at a speed of about 2 m/min.

“By making further laser beam-shaping adjustments, cutting speeds of 2.5 m/min can even be achieved with 4 kW diode lasers,” Dr Meinschien commented.

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