Plastic is a versatile material. It has a huge demand in industries that deal with the manufacturing of useable items like utensils, chairs, tables, baskets, etc. When it comes to manufacturing plastic products, laser cutting service is also linked somewhere. So, in this blog, we will look into the details of laser cutting and how it can help you get plastic products for big manufacturing.
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Lasers are powerful light beams that can travel miles into the sky and even cut through metal. The use of lasers in the processing of materials is constantly growing. Laser processes include laser annealing, laser drilling, laser machining, laser marking, laser perforating, laser scoring, along with laser cutting.
Laser cutting is a process that uses laser technology to cut or drill materials. It is a thermal separation and slitting method that makes it possible to slit raw metallic and non-metallic materials of various material thicknesses.
A laser cutter is a prototyping and manufacturing tool. Laser cutters have a main machine, light, and electricity. The system has a mechanical component, laser generator, reflector path, and CNC controller (electrical control).
Burrs are imperfections such as ridges or protrusions left by laser-cutting. Hence, these burrs must be avoided. So, burr-free laser cutting is a process where the synchronised work of beam parameters and gas dynamics are ensured.
When comparing CNC cutting with laser cutting, traditional CNC cutting carves out the design, whereas laser cutting relies on a high-energy light beam that burns through the material.
One technique for laser cutting metal is laser fusion cutting. In laser fusion cutting, inert gases such as nitrogen or argon are used. But some laser cutting machines also use oxygen to help with the first piercing. In fusion cutting, molten material is forced out of the kerf using an inert gas, often nitrogen.
In flame cutting, oxygen is used to physically blow molten material out of the incision. Another name for this procedure is reactive laser cutting.
In remote cutting, a powerful laser beam partially evaporates the material, enabling the cutting of thin sheets without the help of gas.
Metals are solid materials typically hard, shiny, malleable, and ductile quality. Metal materials require high power to cut anything thicker than foil. Reactive laser cutting and fusion cutting are two methods employed in the laser cutting of metals.
Wood can be cut by laser cut. While cutting, toxic gasses can be produced because of the chemical compositions; hence ventilation is necessary when cutting with a laser.
Laser is ideal for applications on paper cutting. The paper needs low power settings and fast feed rates, while heavier papers could demand a little slower feed rates. You can witness immaculate cuts with no visible HAZ can be made.
Cardboards are heavy paper-based products. All laser types work well with cardboard.
There are various types of plastic, but the ideal plastic used for laser-cut plastic is acrylic. Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with great strength, stiffness, and optical clarity. A structure made with acrylic needs a good polish for smoothness.
In fact, you must be familiar with the following points for laser cutting acrylic:
Also, Polyoxymethylene or polyacetal or POM is a highly strong and hard plastic that is also highly suitable for laser cutting. Fluoropolymers, Delrin, Polypropylene, Mylar, and other different plastics are also used. Be aware of some plastics for laser cutting as they may not have the qualities to withstand laser.
Leather is a material traditionally made of animal skins. At present, faux leather (artificial) is now available. Leather is commonly used to manufacture clothing items and bags. To cut leather, CO2 lasers are used. Moreover, laser cutting for leather avoids the stress of distortion.
CO2 laser (carbon dioxide laser) is created in a gas mixture that has carbon dioxide (CO2), helium and nitrogen. This kind of laser is electrically pumped using an electric discharge. Also, CO2 laser systems are used to cut polyimide, which is used in thermosetting and thermoplastic materials.
Another laser used for plastic laser cutting is the Fibre laser. These lasers belong to the “solid-state lasers” family. The laser beam is transmitted via optical fibre, where it is amplified.
Because the beam from fibre is more readily absorbed and not reflected, Fibre laser can cut copper, brass, and aluminium. Hence, it is considerably better and safer than CO2.
Laser is also used to cut sheets made of various materials like metals, plastics, and wood.
There are numerous ways to engrave objects, but most manufacturing companies prefer laser engraving. When compared to other engraving methods, Laser Engraving is simpler, easier and faster; the credit goes to laser engraving machines. The popular one in laser engraving is Signage laser engraving and cutting. It is used by professional shops as well as by practising signage engravers. For signage, acrylic sheets are also used.
Here, wielding two metals or thermoplastics is done by using a laser beam.
Using laser machines with rotatable axis, complex profiles on the hollow section can be cut. However, while cutting HDPE pipes, PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride), and Polycarbonate (plexiglass), one must be very cautious as HDPE pipes catch fire and melt, PVC emits pure chlorine gas when cut, and Polycarbonate ) doesn’t get cut properly.
Laser technology allows precise, fast, and clean foam cutting. Typical uses for foam laser cutting include seals, case inlays, mattresses, and upholstery. The ideal foam materials to use for laser cutting are usually made of polyester (PES), polyethylene (PE), or polyurethane (PUR). However, Polystyrene foam can catch fire and melt. In fact, this is the #1 material that causes laser fires.
Stencils are unique patterns created by passing ink or paint through holes pierced in cardboard/ metal onto the surface. For the manufacturing of good stencils, businesses use lasers. Mylar is a popular material for laser cutting stencils.
Let’s look into the benefits of laser-cut plastic.
Making intricate designs on plastics using the work by it takes a lot of time. On the other hand, Laser cutting ensures making such complex designs into precise cuts within a short time.
Laser cutting is done by machinery, which is highly automated hence eliminating the hard work of people. To operate that machine, an experienced machine operator is required.
Even the most-killed craftsperson can make mistakes. Hence human error is a major concern in ensuring the top-notch quality of perfect cuts on plastics. Since laser cutting machines are programmed and instructed on where and how to make cuts, they deliver consistency, to be specific polished finish. This also means that when businesses think of mass production, especially with intricate linework and designs, they can use the laser cutting method.
Laser cutting has a high rate of precision across a variety of workpieces during a production run. When a clean cut is made by laser cutting, only a small area is affected by heat, making the chance of warping occurring relatively limited. This hence contributes to the manufacturing of good quality plastic products.
When you use laser cutting for plastic, it reduces costs or cost-effectiveness. Laser cutting also eliminates the need for machining on many engineering projects, reducing the time and costs involved.
Laser cutting offers a bonus which is of lack of physical contact. In laser cutting, only the beam comes into contact with the material; therefore, there is no mechanical friction that could wear tools. This hence removes the risk of material contamination during the cutting process.
Another benefit is repeatability. In fact, the +/- 0.05 mm cuts can ensure that parts and replicas are perfect. This hence indicates laser cuts are reliable.
There is no need to switch equipment between cuts when using a laser cutter. Several different forms can be cut out of the same thickness with the same configuration. This hence shows laser cutting to be flexible. Talking about versatility, lasers can create holes, slots, tabs, and other cut fabrications without halting the cutting process.
With laser cutting, you can relish these benefits and enjoy a fast turnaround. However, one of the greatest disadvantages of Laser Cutting is the emission of dangerous fumes. When cutting with a laser, the material melts and may even toxic fumes. Hazardous substances and particles are present in the vapours; these substances are toxic to both people and other animals. Therefore, a robust ventilation system is a must to ensure a safe working environment.
Anyshape Plastics Pty Ltd is a leading laser cutting company in Australia, specifically dealing with plastic materials and plastic fabrication. We use top-notch machining facilities, including Laser Cutting machines, to provide you with the highest quality laser-cut plastic products. Also, we have years of experience in digital printing, retail signage, graphic design, and wide-format printing. To know more about our services, you can contact us or visit our office at 88 Victoria St, Smithfield NSW 2164.