Laser Cut Metals

A list of materials that gets good results on the FabLight.

The high quality IPG fiber laser is able to cut many types of metals. Here is a summary of the most common ones.

Steel

One of the easiest metals to laser cut, which is good since it’s also the most common industrial metal. It’s mostly iron, where tiny amounts of carbon and other elements determine the alloy type, ranging from 0.02% to 1.7%. Steel can be laser cut with oxygen, which results in the iron burning, not just melting. It will also rust.

Stainless Steel

You might know it from your pots and pans, stainless has many industrial uses. It’s highly resistant to corrosion and rust (hence the name “stainless”). A common alloy is called 18-8, because it’s 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Stainless can be cut with nitrogen to give a clean edge.

Aluminum

It’s much lighter than steel, but also weaker, more easily dented, and more expensive. Aluminum is used for things like car bodies, bike frames, aircrafts, and other places where weight is important. Laser cuts quite nicely with air or nitrogen.

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Brass

A copper alloy that’s one-third zinc, brass is used in gears and bearings, plumbing and electrical, and decorative applications like nameplates.

Bronze

Another copper alloy that’s 10% tin, bronze is harder than pure copper (which helps explain why it was so popular in the Bronze Age that came before the Iron Age). It’s used in bearings, springs, electrical contacts, musical instrument, and medals (along with gold and silver).

Titanium

Used mostly in aerospace and industrial energy, titanium is very tough and even lighter than aluminum. But it’s also very expensive — not because it’s rare, but because it’s costly to purify from the rocks it’s found in. It burns in oxygen and reacts with nitrogen, so t’s often cut with argon, which is an inert gas.

Copper

The stuff inside wires, copper is a great electrical conductor. But it’s also a great heat conductor, which makes it more difficult to laser cut since it’s tougher to get hot enough to melt. Can cut ok with air, and better with oxygen.

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FabLight thickness capability chart, using air as assist gas

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