This chapter discusses equipment features that can make a difference to output characteristics, such as environment, safety, quality, productivity, and profitability. When considering output characteristics, it is evident that compromises must be made to finalize machine design within an allocated time, stay within budget, keep the manufacturing cost competitive, and ensure reliability, stability, repeatability, serviceability, and performance for a finite range of applications. Laser cutting machines can be described as an integration of several modules: a laser resonator, an assist-gas and laser-gas delivery system, beam-delivery system, water chiller for the laser and beam delivery system, air filter and motion systems and controls, and possibly sheet-metal handling and processing automation. Most laser-cutting machines must operate with an axis-symmetric polarized laser beam, which can be simulated with circular polarization. Laser-cutting machines can be operated, troubleshot, and serviced via various controls, including computer numerical control (CNC), programmable logic control (PLC), and personal computers. A water chiller is an essential peripheral component that ensures stability during operation. Its main function is to maintain the different components of the laser resonator and beam-delivery system at their nominal temperatures for optimum efficiency and performance.
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