For a continuous high quality laser cut, it is necessary among other things to position the focal point of the laser beam correctly. This means that a constant clearance between the cutting head and the workpiece with a tolerance of +/- 0.Imm must he ensured. When cutting corrugated automobile bodysheet for example, a good quality cut can only be achieved with automatic clearance control. In the following, a method of automatic clearance control is described using the assistance of a noncontact capacitive sensor system. The copper nozzle of the laser cutting head acts as the electrode of the clearance sensor. The nozzle electrode and the workpiece build a small variable capacitance depending on the clearance. A change of clearance also changes the capacitance, which in turn influences a high frequency oscillator circuit. This shift in frequency is then converted into an analogue DC signal, which can be used to operate a servo motor control for the positioning of the laser cutting head in a closed loop servo system. Laser cutting heads with clearance sensor nozzles of different shapes, suited fur most applications in the industry, with focal lengths from 2.5" to 5" have been developed. They are capable to cut metal sheet from 0.2 to 12 mm of thickness, using CO2-lasers with output power up to 2.5 kW. For special applications involving difficult workpiece topographies in automobile production applications special "trunk" nozzles have been developed. For 5-axis cutting machines and robots, new laser cutting heads with integrated nozzle sensors in combination with a high dynamic Z-axis motor drive are in a stage of development.