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How Maintenance of Laser Cutting Machine Affects Quality

Machine maintenance is a vital part of a laser cutter’s performance. While companies or users may know they need to maintain their machinery, they may not be aware of the best practices associated with keeping these machines running at an optimal level. Since companies rely on lasers to produce accurate and high-quality cuts for fabrications, it’s crucial to know how to perform the right kind of preventative maintenance practices to keep businesses working at the top of their game. 

Find out more about how regular maintenance can improve your laser cutting machine and which maintenance practices you can follow to ensure it runs at its best performance. 

Can Regular Laser Cutting Machine Maintenance Improve Laser Cutting Quality?

Regular maintenance is vital to your laser cutting machine’s performance. Neglecting to maintain your laser cutter will lead to breakdowns, halting your production until the machine can be repaired or replaced. By keeping your machinery in good condition, you can expect to stay on track, hitting productivity targets without surprises. Additionally, well-maintained laser cutters will also last longer, helping you get the most from your investment.

In addition to improving the life span of a laser cutter and keeping it reliably productive, proper maintenance practices also improve the machine’s cutting quality. A laser cutter in good condition will be more precise in its cutting, ensuring you get the cut you require. A well-maintained cutter also cuts faster, helping you stay on schedule, and it will be much cleaner. This eliminates some of the clean-up duties normally required after you’re done.

How Do You Maintain a Laser Cutter?

With all the ways regular laser cutter maintenance can improve a machine’s quality, you might be interested in some of the best practices you can follow to ensure your laser cutter performs at the highest level. Some of these practices include keeping the laser cutter jet centered, cleaning the laser cutter lenses, monitoring the machine’s temperature and focusing the laser cutter optic. 

If you want to know more about how to perform these preventative maintenance practices, check out some more information about them below:

1. CLEAN LASER CUTTER LENSES APPROPRIATELY

Your laser cutter lenses are crucial to the duties your machinery performs, and operators should clean them regularly. Because the lenses can affect the cut’s quality — and everyday cutting processes can cause layers to form on the lenses — it’s critical to clean the lenses after a particular number of cutting cycles. The laser cutter manufacturer usually prescribes this cleaning schedule, and operators should follow it.

Alongside cleaning them at the right intervals, it’s also important to clean them the right way. When operators don’t appropriately clean a cutting lens, they could damage it or leave a thin level of dirt on it, affecting the quality of future cuts. 

When operators clean lenses, they should apply an appropriate cleaning agent at the recommended level. After doing so, they should gently polish the lens by hand. Ensuring operators are using the right cleaning agent and being gentle in the polishing station can extend the life span of your lens and keep your laser cutter working at a top level.

2. KEEP THE LASER CUTTER JET CENTERED

During the laser cutting process, the jet plays an essential role. The jet allows auxiliary gas to go through it and directs the laser beam to the metal. After a laser jet goes through a prescribed number of cycles by the manufacturer, an operator should check it. If the jet is off-center, the laser cutter will see decreases in its cutting speeds and precision.

When the operator checks the jet and finds it is off-centered, they should direct the laser to a piece of tape for about a second. After directing the laser for this amount of time, the operators need to check if the hole in the tape is centered appropriately. To examine the tape, operators usually use a magnifying glass to properly inspect the hole’s small dimensions. By positioning the laser cutter jet appropriately, you’ll see a faster cut and greater precision from your laser cutter.

3. ENSURE LASER CUTTER OPTIC IS FOCUSED

While newer laser cutters often feature optics that focus automatically without input from the operator, older ones often require professionals to do the focusing process. After using a laser cutting machine for a manufacturer-prescribed number of cycles, operators will need to refocus the cutting optics. 

To focus the laser optic appropriately, the operator will start by releasing a low-power laser beam and utilizing the laser cutter’s focusing system. During this process, the operator will note the laser beam’s color. After the laser beam turns blue, the operator will need to record the values provided by the machine. The operator should then repeat this process three times. With the results, they’ll calculate the average of these values and enter them into the laser cutter’s system, resulting in a focused optic.

While you can take the above steps as a general rule, your laser cutter manufacturer or laser cutter brand may have different focusing processes. As a result, it’s crucial to speak with the manufacturer before you manually focus your laser cutter.

4. MONITOR THE LASER CUTTER’S TEMPERATURE

Your laser’s chiller performance is crucial to its functionality. As a result, operators must keep a constant eye on the laser cutter’s temperature gauge. All chillers will feature temperature displays or sensors to assist operators as they attempt to keep temperatures at the right level. When left unchecked, extreme temperatures can cause resonator damage, leading to long and expensive repairs. If an operator notices the temperature is off, they need to stop work until they get the temperature back to an acceptable level. 

Some of the most recent control technology allows fabricators to set a constant temperature. Though this removes the need to monitor the temperature consistently, operators must still monitor the chiller units’ water levels. When the water builds up in these units, it can create some conductivity. If a chiller unit has high conductivity, it can cause the laser cutter’s self-diagnostic features to stop the resonator from working until there are lower water levels.

To lower the conductivity level of the water and the chiller, the operator can run the chiller unit for a few minutes before they begin cutting. The operator can also swap out the resin at appropriate intervals to deionize the water, lowering the conductivity as a result.

Contact APX for Precision Laser Cutting Services

APX York Sheet Metal is one of the leading laser cutting companies in central Pennsylvania, and we’re ready to produce high-quality fabrications for you. Our laser cutting services allow us to cut extremely complex shapes and work with various materials. If you have any questions or want to see how our 70 years of laser cutting expertise and metal bending experience can benefit you, please contact us today.

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