Laser Cutting and its evolution
The laser technology is a fascinating one for all ages due to the perceived implication of the tech in weaponizing them. The actual benefits though happened to be the industrial implication of it and the benefits it brought to a lot of industrial processes. The ideas and theories started back in the early 1900s but the actual gas laser cutting happened in 1965 at Bell Labs by an electrical engineer named Kumar Patel. He used a carbon dioxide mixture for the cutting process. The initial use of the laser cutting process was very limited and was used for drilling holes in diamond dyes. The limited application meant that there were not many usages of the machines or processes in the industries but developments and studies were happening due to the potential of the process. Nearly two years after the first iteration of the laser cutting a German scientist was into his final part if his development of laser cutting with the help of a nozzle CO2 laser beam and assisted gas in the form of oxygen. Peter Houldcroft was able to cut through a 1mm steel sheet with the help of his invention and this became the tipping point for the laser cutting to become a major player in the industrial cutting process.
Western Electric, one of the prominent names in the electrical engineering fields, took up the mantle in the production of the laser cutting machines when the industrial application of the laser cutting came into light. With their own research and development in the technology, the laser cutting process was improved and commercialized in a very short span of time. By the 1980s the machines were largely used in the industries in the cutting purpose and Western Electric alone had sold machines worth the value of more than half a dozen billions of US Dollars.
Developments in the laser cutting process
The early studies had found potential for improvement as they had found that the narrowness of the cut done by laser cutting was superior to that of other cutting methods. The limit of the laser beam power in the early times had made the scientists note that, with the increased power of the laser beam, the cutting process can be used on many different materials and also thicker materials. The speed of the laser cutting process was also slower in the early times, though faster than other processes may be, it pointed to the scope of development yet to come. The next 30 years saw the potential being fulfilled and opening new doors of opportunity for development.
The 1mm cut made on the steel sheet by the first laser cutting process has become 20 mm and a wide verity of materials can be cut by laser cutting machines now. The speed of the process has significantly increased and the process has become automated and efficient with the help of computers and software controlling it. The narrow kerf and precision offered by laser cutting have propelled the industries and revolutionized by proving to be efficient and avoiding reworks.
Present and Future for Laser Cutting
The constant drive for improvement in the industrial fields for achieving greater efficiency, automation, and profit, is a driving factor for the development of new and existing technologies. From the early days of the laser cutting, it had grown leaps & bounds and still showing promising opportunities for the scientists working behind them. The automation through the computerization and the controlled operation with software has been a giant step forward. But the definitive application of laser cutting is the 5-axis manipulation for 3-dimensional work. That kind of support beam delivery systems did not appear on the market in the early phases. We hope to see new technological advancements in the laser cutting process, which can further benefit the industries using them and enable new industries in using them.
It is sure to be of great value to mankind with the advancement in the laser cutting technologies as it has been the past decades, and practical use to the humans would always be better than weaponizing them.