The employment of laser machining for making plastic injection molds has been available for years, but has only received limited approval. This is partly due to the doubt of the new technology and the cost of the machines.
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However, for the right application, laser machining is a particularly usable option. With the latest generation of precision laser cutting machines, there are numerous enhancements. Cutting speeds have increased, accuracy has improved, surface finishes are better, and the cost has come down.
How can laser machining help a mold maker?
Precision laser cutting is the ultimate operation for engraving and the machining of very complex, small, shallow cavities. One of the advantages of laser machining is that it can engrave on sophisticated contours really constantly and with a high degree of accuracy. It’s also possible to use laser engraving machining services to engrave molds with changing vertical wall angles.
Laser micro machining can produce little, complicated and precise cores and cavities too. As the geometry is produced straight from the CAD file, the laser machining operation can faithfully reproduce the designed shape.
What about accuracy?
A precision laser cutting machine can cut within nanometers. The newer machines are also 5 axis and able to machine a wide range of angles and shapes. The XYZ positioning accuracy can simply approach that of a high quality CNC machining center.
Are laser engraving machines safe?
Even though it may appear dangerous, a precision laser cutting machine is essentially quite safe. Of course, someone might be tempted to ignore common sense and stare at the laser beam with their naked eye, but even this is not so easily done. Usually the machine just hums away, doing its needed task.
Are lasers quick enough to compete?
Depending on the application, a laser machining tool is financially admissible. The applications are restricted to shallow details, which eliminates many projects. However, if your need is for complicated, shallow details, precision laser machining could be the answer .
Because the complete process is computerized and automated, it quickly lends itself to tiny scale production. The engraving of logos is a good example. If your logo is to be cut into a contoured surface, it may not be possible to CNC machine it, or maybe EDM it. This is where laser machining can be a viable option.
What other applications are there?
small hole machining and shaped hole machining are good applications for laser machining. Turbine cooling holes are often laser machined. The helical shape of the blades are no problem for the laser because there is no tool holder to mess. It is simply a beam of light and the head is able to move about way easier than a milling machine, as an example.