Laser Cutting of Other Materials
Broad Application Spectrum
Besides metals, a wide range of other materials can be cut with laser, including semiconductors, plastics, organic materials, ceramics, paper, graphite, diamonds as well as composite materials.
Laser Cutting of Silicon
- Mono and poly-crystalline silicon wafers can be cut at high speeds with very high preciseness and low heat input using the same ablation process as for edge isolation and drilling. New methods have shown that the so-called multi-pass separation process, without using cutting gas, produces edges with a better surface quality than using the single cut separation applying a coaxial gas beam.
Laser Cutting of Plastics
- Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), better known as acrylic, is a thermoplastic polymer which can be cut by sublimation with CO2 lasers at quite low power rates of 100 to 300 watts. Depending on the application, cuts of polished wall quality can be realized (optically clear cutting edge). A major field of application of such laser cut parts is illuminated advertising. Depending on the application, cuts of polished wall quality can be realized (optically clear cutting edge). A major field of application of such laser cut parts is illuminated advertising.
Laser Cutting of Wood
- One example for non-ferrous cutting applications with lasers is the cutting of wood for the application in die making. Applied are CO2 lasers as the radiation of other laser types is not absorbed by this material. Especially the flexibility of laser cutting in combination with the high accuracy and quality of the kerfs are the reasons that make laser cutting interesting for these applications. Later CNC-bended knives are inserted into the kerfs, which cut the desired packaging or paperboard containers. Typical processing speeds of the laser are according to the material strengths between 1.5 and 4 m /min.
Laser Cutting of Paper
- When cutting paper usually – process-related – a CO2 laser with high beam quality is used. Through the connection to a galvo scanning head one can achieve a high flexibility as well as a high process speed of more than 2000mm/s. Additionally, the cutting quality is normally significantly better than compared to the mechanical separating by die cutting or a rotary fabric cutter. Moreover, a specific control technology allows the cutting with an on-the-fly technique. That means that the ribbon shaped material can be processed in-line without speed disruption. As the applied lasers are quickly modulated, besides continuous cuts also micro-perforations can be applied. Examples for cases, in which today paper, screens or etiquettes are cut via lasers serially, are self-adhesive etiquettes, variably designed gift cards or prototypes medial quantities.
Laser Cutting of Ceramics
- Ceramic is usually separated with the help of pulsed solid-state lasers or CO2 lasers and performances between 1 and 600 Watt for sublimation cutting. As the cutting depths in one cycle (single pass) is often only within the range of a few 10 micrometers, higher material thicknesses are separated in the so called multi-pass process.
Laser Cutting of Textiles
- Due to the product variety in automobile production and associated manufacturing processes, increasingly basic components of the automobile interior lining are cut individually. Such as for wood or leather or homogenous and fiber-reinforced plastics, the process of sublimation cutting is favored for textiles. Usually, CO2 lasers with a performance of 300 Watt are applied, which are able to separate composite materials such as textiles with a speed of up to 5m/min. A significant advantage is the melting of textile fibers due to the thermal separation process so that fibers do not frazzle anymore in opposite to mechanical separation processes. This advantage is also used when separating airbag cloth and apparel fabric. Here, mainly multi-layer materials are cut with higher performances. For the cutting of airbag cloth CO2 lasers with performances of up to 1.5 kW are applied.