Traditional machining includes the use of metal machining tools such as planers, lathes and mills. This process uses sharpened metal pieces to cut and shape other metal objects. Though this can be done with precision, a nontraditional method of machining known as laser beam machining, or LBM, can be used to cut metal with even greater precision on numerous surfaces including those not made from metal.
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According to EngineersHandbook, laser beam machining is precisely manipulating a beam of coherent light to vaporise unwanted material. The intensity of the laser used in such applications can be manipulated to bore precise holes on numerous surfaces without machine waste. The laser vaporises material instead of moving it as with traditional machining tools, making the cuts and holes much cleaner and free of debris.
In traditional machining, the work-piece and the machining tool have to be precisely calibrated and measured, then once the piece is moved, all measurements must be made a second time. This is done to make cuts and shape metals to specific degrees and angles or to form a specific diameter and depth for cuts or holes. With laser beam machining, the machine can be set to the specifics of the project and make the desired cuts or holes with a precision down to one micron. Once set, the machining process will run automatically and take less time, making second or third measurements unnecessary.
Laser beam machining as compared to traditional machining processes is much gentler. With laser beam machining, the machinist is able to machine cut thin pieces of metal and other material without worrying about damaging or otherwise warping the piece as with traditional machining tools. The variety of material that laser beam machining can work on is also much greater than with conventional machining tools. According to EngineersHandbook, the laser can execute scribing, marking and drilling; cut thin metals and ceramics; trim resistors; and process silicon, plastic, graphite and diamond with tolerances to one micron.
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