How To Reduce Metal Burr Formation When Using a Laser Cutter

Laser cutting has revolutionized the metal fabrication industry, providing precision and efficiency in cutting operations. Together with CNC controls, the evolution of laser cutting machines has enabled greater productivity and quality control in metal fabrication operations.

However, one of the issues that can affect the quality of the final product is the formation of burrs. These small protrusions or rough edges can affect the functionality and aesthetics of metal components. Here we will share how to reduce metal burr formation when using a laser cutter.

What Is a Burr in Metal Fabrication?

A burr is an undesirable bead of metal, a raised edge, or a sliver on the surface of metal that remains on the workpiece after cutting. It is a material discrepancy resulting from the deformation of metal during machining or a laser cutting through the metal workpiece. The presence of burrs requires additional processing to achieve a finished quality.

Why Are Burrs Undesirable?

Burrs can impact both the performance and appearance of metal parts. They can interfere with how parts fit and function within assemblies, leading to malfunctions. As a result, parts delivered with burrs on them will be rejected, and a shop could lose time and money redoing a job or remediating the burrs on the defective parts.

Burrs can also cause injury to individuals handling the metal pieces because they can be very sharp. Reducing or eliminating burrs is crucial to maintain quality and safety in metal fabrication.

How Do Laser Cutters Cause Burrs To Form?

Laser cutting involves a high-intensity laser beam that melts or vaporizes metal. Usually, a helping gas blows metal debris away from the cut area. Sometimes, however, the gas fails to remove debris before it drops back on the surface and solidifies, leaving a burr.

Misalignment of the laser beam itself can also cause burrs to form. When the laser is out of focus or directed in a way that causes it to make cuts that are too shallow or too deep relative to the metal it’s cutting, burrs can develop.

Adjustments To Make To Reduce Laser Cutter Burr Formation

To minimize burrs while using a fiber laser cutting machine, machine operators can make various adjustments.

Check the Purity of the Gas

The assisting gas blows away the molten metal from the cut. Impurities in this gas can lead to incomplete removal of material, resulting in burrs. Ensuring the gas is of high purity can lead to cleaner cuts.

Adjust the Focus of the Beam

The focal position of the laser beam strongly influences the quality of the cut. If the beam is not accurately focused on the material’s surface, it can lead to uneven melting and burrs. Fine-tuning the beam’s focus can prevent this issue.

Use the Correct Speed

The cutting speed affects the amount of heat applied to the metal. If the speed is too slow, it might result in excessive melting and burr formation. Conversely, too fast a speed can result in an incomplete cut. Finding the right balance is key to preventing burrs.

Check the Laser Cutter’s Output Power

Like cutting speed, the power output of the fiber laser cutting machine needs to be optimal. Too much power can cause the metal to overheat and create burrs, while insufficient power will not cut through the metal cleanly.

Reset the Machine

Laser cutting equipment requires periodic recalibration to ensure its components are aligned and operating correctly. This maintenance helps reduce the occurrence of burrs.

It’s also possible that the machine has simply been in continuous operation for too long and requires a chance to rest or settle before starting up again.

How To Remove Burrs From Laser Cut Workpieces

Even with the best practices, some burrs may still occur. Professionals may employ various methods to remove burrs.

Manual Tools

Hand tools, such as files and deburring blades, can remove burrs but can be labor-intensive and less consistent for large batches of parts.

Deburring Machines

Mechanical devices like tumblers and machines that apply electrochemical processes to parts with burrs on them provide a more automated solution for burr removal. These machines deliver a uniform finish and are more suitable for handling large volumes of workpieces.

The Advantage of CNC Controls

Computer numerical control (CNC) systems can precisely manage the laser cutter’s parameters, such as the beam’s focus, speed, and power. This precision helps reduce the likelihood of burr formation. Implementing CNC technology into laser cutting processes allows for more consistent and high-quality results.

Mac-Tech sells new and pre-owned fiber laser cutting machines, as well as other metal fabrication equipment. Metalworking shops rely on Mac-Tech when they need to replace or repair press brakes, tube cutters, beam coping machines, metal shears, saws, plasma cutters, folding machines, and rollers. We provide maintenance services and training for machine operators. You’ll also find metal fabrication software and CNC control systems. If you’re still working with machines that require manual calculations and controls, talk to us about retrofitting your equipment with new CNC controls. We’ll let you know if it’s possible or if there’s another cost-effective solution.

High-quality metal fabrication using laser cutting machines necessitates attention to detail and precision to prevent the formation of burrs. By carefully managing the various operational parameters of the laser cutter, such as gas purity, beam focus, cutting speed, and power output, metalworking shops can reduce the incidence of burrs and experience fewer delays and less waste. Regular maintenance and calibration ensure that the machine continues to operate at peak efficiency.

If burrs do form, there are several methods to remove them and ensure the final product meets quality standards. The technological advancements in CNC controls have further improved the ability to fabricate burr-free metal components, benefiting the entire manufacturing process.

By understanding how to reduce burr formation when using a laser cutting machine, those in the metal fabrication industry can significantly increase the quality of their work. This focus on excellence ensures the production of parts that are not only precise but also safe to handle and fit for their intended applications.

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