Lasers can cut many types of ceramic materials. The most common is alumina silicate (Al2SiO5), which requires either full ablation or the scribe-and-break technique. Each has its own advantages depending on your application’s requirements.
Unlike other methods, ceramic laser cutting achieves precise heat control to cut detailed patterns. Other advantages include:
- No contact. Unlike diamond cutting, you don’t have to replace saws. Lasers also avoid placing mechanical stress on parts.
- Precise control. The laser’s focused, localized energy achieves very narrow cuts with small kerf widths. Detailed, intricate patterns are also possible.
- No consumables. Unlike water jet cutting, laser cutting doesn’t require extra consumables or disposables.
Two types of lasers are ideal for cutting ceramic. Bright fiber lasers (1064-nm wavelength) and high-powered CO2 lasers (10600-nm wavelength) work well with ceramic and provide fast cutting. You can also use femtosecond lasers, which offer superior cut quality and precision.
The two most common cutting techniques are:
- Full ablation cutting. The focused laser spot cuts the ceramic completely through—fully separating the two cut edges. Full ablation is preferred when cutting patterns aren’t centered or when the material is sensitive to extra force. You can use on-axis gas assist with this method to achieve cleaner full ablation cuts with minimal recast on the back side.
- Scribe-and-break technique. This technique scribes the ceramic surface enough to weaken the part at the cut line. Then, an applied force breaks the two cut edges apart. Scribe-and-break is faster than full ablation but requires extra force that may not work well for fragile parts.