Charles L Caristan, PhD
Published By: SME
Automation eases, speeds, and increases consistency and reproducibility of operations by reducing output variations. Unfortunately, automation is more often associated with a reduction of human labor than with a transfer of needs from one skill set to another. The transition from conventional cutting to laser cutting cannot occur without properly skilled workers. Human resources must adapt by showing transferable skills and increasing versatility through continuous training programs. The following sections review the human inputs influencing laser metal-cutting operations. Operators must have in-depth knowledge of laser resonators, laser material processing, optics, and beam propagation. Production planners should take into account the delivery requirements of the customer and maintenance requirements for operations. They must also schedule manufacturing for a minimized number of setup changes involving operator intervention. To that end, a good understanding of laser-cutting machine setup and procedures becomes necessary.