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Laser has found its applications in cutting, drilling, and shock-peening operations of manufacturing industry because of its accurate, safe, and rapid cutting property. This article provides an account on the fundamental principles of laser cutting (thermal), drilling, and shock-peening processes of which emphasis is placed on thermal laser cutting. It details the principal set-up parameters, such as the laser beam output, nozzle design, focusing optic position and characteristics, assist gases, surface conditions, and cutting speed. A discussion on the types of gas, supply system, purity level, and flow rates of lasing and assist gases is also provided. The article also describes the metallurgies and other key material considerations that impact laser-cutting performances and includes examples of laser cutting of nonmetal materials.

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