Gears power everything from slim watches to giant machines. They need to not only be the right shape but also be durable and accurate. They can be made by using a variety of manufacturing techniques, but most commonly by a molding process. However, flat laser cutting creates metal gears that are precise and come in any size or shape you need.
What Is It?
In simple terms, laser cutting uses concentrated heat to melt the material (usually metal or plastic). A computer guides the beam in a continuous line to create the desired shape. The width of the cut is called the kerf. Laser cutting has the smallest kerf of all cutting processes, meaning less material is wasted during the cutting process.
What Are the Benefits?
There are a few reasons to use flat laser cutting when you need custom metalwork.
- It’s accurate and precise, with tolerances between 0.003 mm and 0.006 mm.
- You can create incredibly complex shapes.
- You can cut very thin materials without warping or distortion.
- It’s cost-effective for small-batch jobs because there are no special tools or appliances needed.
- It generates less waste so you can create more parts with fewer materials.
- Laser-cut parts don’t require finishing or smoothing, so the turnaround time is quicker.
- You can cut a variety of materials, such as metal, wood, plastic and even some types of textiles.
What Do I Need?
You will need to gather several details in order to start the process. The required specifications can include:
- The gear’s size, which takes into account how the teeth will make contact
- The shape of the teeth, which affects the gear’s contact force and motion
- The number of teeth, which determines the torque ratio
- The kerf, or size of the cut, which determines how much material is need
- The end product use, which determines the ideal material type and thickness
You also need a design for the computer to read saved as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file. SVG is a format that creates images using straight lines and curves. You can scale the images up or down and not lose any of the quality.
The manufacturer doesn’t need to deburr or finish gears made with the flat laser cut technique. The parts are ready to go as soon as they’re cut.
No matter the size of your gear or how many you need, flat laser cutting is a good solution for many custom machine parts.