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New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

(OP)
    My company recently acquired an old 1000 watt Mazak laser, and I've been asked to run it. No one in the company knows the first thing about laser cutting, and the manual has only gotten us so far. I've gotten it to perform on a basic level, but my boss wants to start larger scale production soon.

    1. Cutting aluminum? It can do it, but I hear it's bad for the laser itself. How bad? Does it just need the lens/mirrors cleaned more often, or does it damage them?

    2. A cleaner finish on .25-.5 material.  Will a 7" lens really help that much? How much money should we expect to spend on one if we do need it? Will we need a new torch as well?

    3. Basic maintenance? How often should we clean the lens? Mirrors? Anything we should to maintain the axes and caterpillar track? Is there anything I should be on the lookout for?
 
     4. Should we have a power meter? What will it tell us?

     5. Any resources I could look to (that are dirt-cheap or free, we are a bottom line sort of place)?

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated . My boss expects a lot out of this laser, and I’m having trouble keeping up!

RE: New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

ant42onia

1. Cutting aluminum? It can do it, but I hear it's bad for the laser itself. How bad? Does it just need the lens/mirrors cleaned more often, or does it damage them?

1000 Watts of Power isn't enough to cut any thicker than 0.040" Aluminum.  This material when not pierced, becomes another mirror and will reflect the beam back to the lens and will break it.

    2. A cleaner finish on .25-.5 material.  Will a 7" lens really help that much? How much money should we expect to spend on one if we do need it? Will we need a new torch as well?

Don't think the extra expense will be necessary since you can cut 0.25" Mild Steel with a 5.0" Lens, but cutting .500" HRS with 1000 Watts is almost a pipe dream.

    3. Basic maintenance? How often should we clean the lens? Mirrors? Anything we should to maintain the axes and caterpillar track? Is there anything I should be on the lookout for?

Usually most manufacturers recommend to clean the lens at least once every 8 hours (or every shift).  Mirrors should be cleaned as soon as you notice the cut quality has decayed and you know the lens is in good conditions.  Keeping the LM Guides and Ballscrews clean and properly lubricated is a must.  Try to get a hold of the maintenance manual of the machine.  Vacuum Pump and Turbo Blower Oil as well.
 
     4. Should we have a power meter? What will it tell us?  A power meter comes in handy when you suspect you are losing power from the resonator, but mostly needed for high power lasers.

     5. Any resources I could look to (that are dirt-cheap or free, we are a bottom line sort of place)?

Plenty of places to buy laser consumables from but not free.  www.ii-vi.com for optics, www.mate.com, American Torchtip, DelMarTip.com, etc.

Best of Luck

RE: New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

I am not familiar with Mazak lasers, however I have experience with Trumpf, Amada, and Cincinnatti lasers and my advice to "newbies" is to begin with the basics. First, make sure the lens is new, or at least clean. Make sure nozzle tip is in good shape and has the recommended tip hole diameter for the material to be cut. Do a nozzle alignment, or centering. This makes sure the focused beam is centered properly through the tip hole. It affects cutting quality. Then do the focal point procedure. This procedure assures that the focal point is set at the surface of the material. Hopefully your manual has these procedures in detail. Try cutting a test square on some scrap metal to check quality. Of course your cutting conditions in the console will have to be correct for the material you are processing, also. I assume that the techs who installed your laser checked the beam "mode"( good roundness, diameter, and cool spot perfectly centered), new reflective mirrors. and proper mirror alignment so these factors should not be a problem. But remember, the mode and mirrors deteriorate over time affecting quality. I also suggest to everyone to not be afraid to call a factory tech or process engineer. They can be very useful especially for cutting conditions suggestions. Now for your questions.
1. At a 1000 watts you will only be able to cut very thin aluminum and at a slow feedrate. Slow feedrate down if you have a "missed" cut. Damage can only occur if beam is reflected back if material is not pierced. Do not expect high quality edge with aluminum. .040 sounds about right for thickness limit.
2. With a 1000 watts, .375 carbon steel is your limit if your lucky enough to do that. You might have to settle with .25 thickness in carbon steel and 10 guage stainless steel. I do not think a 7" lens would be worth the cost. If it was my laser I would not even consider this option for a "low" power laser. I have found, in my experience, that 7" lens help edge quality in .5 or thicker material. Try playing around with the cutting conditions(feedrate, power,etc.) to help improve edge quality. Call factory techs for advice.
3. Clean lens at least once per shift, however check lens if edge quality is not good. Replace lens if spotted or pitted. Check with factory for maintenence procedures(grease fittings, vacuum pump oil changes,beam alignment, etc.).
4. A power meter can be an indicator of problems along the beam path behind the focal lens. Check power coming directly out of the resonator and then remove the "torch", as you call it, and check power after it is reflected past the mirrors. Any big drop in power will indicate a possible problem. However, beam "mode" is very impotant and a power meter cannot help with that. If your company is going to go one step further and do your own service such as periodic output coupling replacement, mode adjusting, beam alignment, and power check, it is a must have.
5. Do not know of any specific sources. Google search maybe?

RE: New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

(OP)
Thank you for your help. I was starting to think I was being unrealistic goals, and I guess I was right! I don't think we are going to be able to really produce with this laser, so I don't think we will sink much money into it.

RE: New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

ant42onia, cutting aluminum will not hurt your laser. The only worries you will have there is damage to your lens however as long as your cut conditons are set up right this will not be a problem. If your cutting aluminum for an extended period of time be sure to clean it regularily to avoid build up on the lens.

Cutting aluminum will not damage your mirrors at all.

The 7" lens will not have much bearing with your machine due to the power available to you so the previous post is correct and it would not be a wise investment.

If you refer to your user manuals it will advise you on basic maintenance needed for your machine. Speak with Mazak directly and request they send you the maintenance schedule for your machine.

Develope a pro active maintenance plan for the laser and stick to it. This wil lhelp you in the long run and will allow you to get better performance from it by way of throughput.

Clean your lens daily. Use only mfg approved lens cleaning paper. You can use asetone to clean the lens. ENSURE you only use each piece of paper once. In other words, run the paper over the lens once and disregard it aferwords. If you are unsure ow to properly clean the lens contact Mazak directly.

You'll be able to produce fine with this machine but again it depends on what mat'l your using and the thinckness as well. If you are running mostly small gauge you'll do fine.

I'd try to avoid any jobs over 1/4.
     

    

RE: New to lasers - Just got an old Mazak and need some advice

I would recommend basic training in MAZAK optroniks in Chicago - you will get some ideas in cutting, safety, maintanence. Besides, Mazak ussualy sells machines through authorised dillers who have technician who could do such training.

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