Guide to Designing Parts for Laser Cutting Process
The laser cutting process uses laser energy to cut through materials. The possible material includes metal, wood, glass, and rock. It is a non-contact process that results in highly accurate and dimensionally cut parts. In principle, it works through melting and burning away material. A jet of air then blows away the melted material leaving a clean surface edge free from debris. This results in high-quality edges and surface finishes. At Creatingway, we use the process to make quality parts, markings, and engravings. Despite laser cutting being cost-effective, offering great precision and repeatability, there are few design tips to consider before trying it in your project. The considerations are important for both home laser cutters and industrial-grade cutters.
How to Utilize Design Tips to Make the Best Laser Processed Part
Select The Right Material for The Project
Every project is unique and needs a suitable design. It should incorporate enough material to make a part. First, consider the properties of each material before picking it for the project. Next, consider the conditions to which the part shall be exposed constantly. For instance, products intended for humid conditions or heat should not come from MDF or cardboard. Such products would even last the intended function life and result in long term losses. Consider acrylic as the suitable option. When you are low on budget or you intend to test a prototype design, seek cheaper materials. For example, cardboard is a great material for such uses. MDF material is great for parts intended to handle great stresses.
Select The Right Material Thickness
The material thickness affects how detailed your design can be. The thickness could vary from 1 to 10 mm. For instance, engravings need material thickness that is not too thin. The laser would otherwise cut through the material giving a poor product. also, very detailed engravings with thin material are not advisable. The laser might melt everything. However, if the project intends to have flexible parts then a thin material would be the right choice.
Select The Right Software to Design
Laser cutters can only support vector files. Designs made from non vectorized drawings or simple drawings pose a challenge in laser cutting. They are not adequate in the creation of an object using laser cutting. The simple reason is the lack of the information needed to enable the machines to engrave or cut. The answer to this problem is getting a vector file. First, start out by making a vector by yourself. It is useful for already experienced designers. Available software includes Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketchup. For the inexperienced, there are available websites and designers that you use to use to outsource such services. At Creatingway, we also have a team ready to handle such situations. However, do not forget to maintain the laser cutting design guidelines. Lastly, choose the right format before sending the file. For instance, at Creatingway, we allow vector files in.DXF, .EPS or .AI format.
Consider Kerf When Designing for Parts for Assembly
Kerf is the small amount of material that evaporates during the laser cutting process. It happens as the laser cuts through the material leaving a gap. This happens also to other processes that cut materials, such as a blade cutting wood since it has a thickness. The laser beam has thickness too thus leaving a kerf while burning through the material. Laser cutting is useful in making parts for assembly. There should be a minimum space left for the parts to later fit in well. To ensure if the parts fit in well, account for the kerf. Start by subtracting half the kerf size from the frame. Then, add the remaining half to the inner section.
Selecting The Right Node Position
Pieces intended to stay connected after fitting, need to be added nodes. Nodes allow friction to concentrate on fixed points of the part surface rather than the whole of it. Hus allows for larger slots that will not easily come apart. Place the nodes opposite each slot. Then, depending on the slot length, place a number of slots. It will reduce the tension that would have occurred with non-aligned or missing nodes. They should be long and smooth enough to ease interlocking. Also, the material’s density affects the node’s width. Highly dense material needs small width nodes thus improving the design for the laser cutting process.
Select The Right Part Shape for Cutting Efficiency
Despite advancements in laser technology, there are still a few design considerations that affect cutting efficiency. It should not change how people think when designing parts. For instance, 90-degree corners decrease part quality. As the laser reaches the corner, it decelerates. This results in burning forming dross. The corners might even burn off completely with less heat-tolerant materials. Thus, the design should be of a larger radius corner. This will allow for a better transition for the laser as it takes a longer smoother route. It will also increase cutting speed and enhance part quality. They should respect them to avoid changes that may increase production costs. Contact Creatingway now for laser cutting and engraving services.
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