Sheet metal machines are effective, durable and capable of achieving great things – and a laser cutter is no exception. However, they’re not invincible. If they’re constantly pushed past their limits, then they will break down. It’s not uncommon for fabricators to keep putting off maintenance as it’s essentially viewed as a waste of time that could be put towards a job.
It’s highly essential to maintain your laser cutter though as it can end up causing a mountain of problems for you down the road. Today, we’re going to give you some tips on how to do that and why you should.
Does it make a difference?
Yes, it makes a huge difference. A laser cutter will attract a lot of dirt over its operational life – causing its overall productivity to go down. This quality of the work falls significantly as well as the efficiency of the machine. In addition to this, the machine could break down which will slow everything down and end up being costly to fix.
It’s a lot more economical to maintain it as you go than to have it break down – or worse, catch fire and cause other permanent damage – and deal with it after the fact. Maintaining your laser cutting machine ensures a longer operational life as well as keeping up the level of quality.
Key maintenance practises
The machine should be visually inspected at the end of each working day for signs of wear or physical deterioration. As with most machines, you’ll need to make sure that it’s well lubricated using the manufacturer’s recommendation for lubricant as well as generally making sure that there isn’t any dirt build-up and that the machine is overall clean.
Air and oil filters should also be checked and replaced accordingly. The pre-filters inner pad should be changed roughly once a week depending on how much use it gets. The pad is usually very white, so it’ll be easy to tell when it’s dirty (on both sides). HEPA filters should be changed yearly at the minimum.
Onto more specific maintenance for laser cutting machines – the optics must be spotless. Because laser cutters use glass, the optics must be checked daily for any dirt, spots or marks and should be cleaned accordingly. Smoke produced by the laser cutter can also cloud the optics. Both the smoke and other particles will affect the intensity and quality of the beam – dampening the overall project efficiency.
Beam quality tests should be performed weekly to ensure that the beam is performing at the highest quality. Use offcuts and keep them to see how the cut compares with a test cut performed when the machine was new. This is an easy way to ascertain the level your beam is at.
Because laser cutting machines employ water cooling systems, the water needs to be changed regularly. Cooling coils should also be cleaned to ensure the system runs at optimal capacity.
Keeping excess stock of anything can be a hassle as it takes up unnecessary room. However, spare parts are something that should definitely be kept in case of emergencies. There’s no point in just buying every spare part, though, as that can get quite expensive.
This is where you must determine which are the integral parts of the machine and which will need replacing often. Obviously, the pre-filter will need replacing regularly so that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
If you know you’re about to take on a big order that will involve using the laser cutter a lot, then perform a full maintenance inspection. Go through every detail and ensure that it’s all in working order. The same goes for regular clients, as well – if you know the machine is going to get more use than the others than plan ahead accordingly to ensure the nothing goes wrong.
Looking for a laser cutter?
ACRA Machinery stock a variety of laser cutting machines for your workshop. Our expert technicians will be able to help you pick out the best machine for you and also teach you all about maintaining it. We stock both new and used laser cutters. We’re also able to administer repair services on your sheet metal machines.
If you’re looking at purchasing a laser cutter, then please get in touch with us by calling 03 9794 6674. You can also contact us via the enquiry form on our website.