Stainless Steel Laser Cutting Quality
Our fiber laser leaves a clean, high-tolerance edge finish with minimal burrs and dross after the cut. This is especially true compared to other cutting methods like CNC plasma. But depending on the end-use of the laser-cut part, they may or may not be product ready without any additional post operations. This post summarizes some finish considerations for an "as cut" stainless steel part.
When the laser pierces the stainless steel to initiate a cut, vaporized material is ejected from the pierce point in a circle around the finished part, as shown below:
Splash out only occurs when we have to pierce somewhere close to the edge of the finished part. In the case of the image above, all of the splash out was contained to a drop, and it didn't affect the finish quality of the final part. In thin material ( ~ 0.048" ) like that shown above, the splash area is contained within around 0.1" to 0.2" around the pierce point. The affect is more pronounced on thicker materials, as shown below:
As shown, the surface finish is affected in the immediate area around the pierce.
All of these parts were laser-cut from stainless steel with a #4 brushed finish. In circumstances where the parts need to be product-ready for customers, they may require re-finishing to achieve a pristine finish after the cut.
Bottom Burrs and Deck Scratches
The bottom edge of the laser-cut stainless part is also going to be a little less pristine than the top, even considering the possibility of pierce splash out. The bottom edge may contain a slight burr, and there may be some scratching on the bottom surface of the material due to its contact with the steel deck of the laser. See below for an example:
We work hard to avoid sliding the material on the deck, to prevent scratching. We also store sheets separately, with cardboard or paper dividers to avoid scratching during storage and material retrieval. But our as-cut parts aren't guaranteed to be completely free of scratching and burrs.
We are working on providing additional finishing options to de-burr and correct scratching on our stainless steel laser cut parts, but as of February 2019, all parts are offered "as cut," and may contain some imperfections that require post operations to make a part product-ready.