Stencil cutting laser machine

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,516
I'm considering buying a CNC laser machine for cutting stainless steel of up to 0.010" that I intend to use to make (among other things) stencils for SMT soldering paste.

Any ideas as to what size/power laser I'd need to accomplish that? And about how much it would cost?

It doesn't need to be a fast, or big, machine, as long as it makes clean, accurate cuts.
 

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,516
Oh, I'm not worried about the fumes. I plan to install an extractor, and it would be installed in a room separate from my house.

It's the price that has me worried, though.
 

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,516
hope a slight resistance won't be a problem. Stainless is more resistive then most other metals.
That's true. But if it can cut stainless, it might also be able to cut that springy bronze alloy used for battery terminals.

I guess I'd just have to experiment.
 

Sensacell

Joined Jun 19, 2012
2,917
I think the fumes you need to worry about will come from your burning wallet.

Cutting metals requires a huge step up in power, a laser for cutting plastics will run $3K for a cheap China special, the cheapest metal cutting laser is about 10X the cost.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
8,952
But if it can cut stainless, it might also be able to cut that springy bronze alloy used for battery terminals.
Copper type material is very, very hard for laser cutting. We had a Trumpf laser cutter one of their top of the line machines, cut up to 2" thick steel plate like butter with very good dimensional tolerance. But could not cut 0.015" bronze sheet worth a damn. and it wasn't the thickness of the bronze because the same thickness steel cut very good and held tolerance.
 

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,516
Copper type material is very, very hard for laser cutting. We had a Trumpf laser cutter one of their top of the line machines, cut up to 2" thick steel plate like butter with very good dimensional tolerance. But could not cut 0.015" bronze sheet worth a damn. and it wasn't the thickness of the bronze because the same thickness steel cut very good and held tolerance.
Yeah, I'm aware of that. My understanding is that copper is highly reflective of the infrared frequencies produced by CO2 lasers. Bronze also poses a problem for the same reason. But there are non-CO2 lasers out there that can cut bronze of up to a certain thickness. I know that for a fact because I've just had a few bronze parts 0.020" thick processed a couple of weeks ago with a local supplier without a problem.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
8,952
might be why so much of the material is stamped
We ended up going with Wire EDM when the laser didn't work. It was for die development problems for wiring terminals for GM cars. By cutting different shapes out of the material we were seeing if existing forming inserts could be used to make the parts. To cut down on spare part inventory of the dies. All of the forming and shape cutting parts(called wafers at the company) in the dies were carbide, and that was wire EDM'd too, right to size no grinding at all.
 
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