Laser cutting of plastic can be used to achieve precise, fast, and repeatable cuts in many types of polymers. Controlling the path of the focused laser spot using custom software allows for high accuracy and speed. This is one of the many advantages cutting plastic using lasers has over traditional cutting methods.
Advantages of Laser Cutting of Plastic:
No Contact Cutting – No cutting blades to clean, sharpen, or replace.
Small Kerf Width – Focused, localized laser energy allows for very narrow cuts.
Flexibility – Many different patterns can be cut without changing any parts. Changing the cut pattern can be as simple as uploading a new graphic file.
On-The-Fly Processing – Patterns can be cut as parts travel down a production line. On-The-Fly processing allows for increased speed and flexibility.
Methods of Laser Cutting of Plastic:
Many different types of lasers can be used to cut plastic. Depending on your cut edge requirements or the speed of cutting required, different laser wavelengths (from IR through UV) have different advantages. CMS Laser’s Applications Lab will help determine the correct laser and optics setup for your needs through our Free Sample Processing.
Cutting of plastic using a laser can be done in a couple different ways.
Fixed Beam Plastic Cutting:
In this method, the laser beam is fixed in one position and the part moves under the focused spot.
On-axis air assist can be used to improve speed and cut quality on some applications.
Galvanometer Steered Plastic Cutting:
Using a galvanometer to steer the beam is an alternative method of cutting plastics with a laser. The computer controlled galvanometer allows for high speed cutting patterns. This method also has the ability to cut using multiple repetitions of the same pattern in quick succession.
Plastics are just one material of many where laser cutting offers an ideal solution in industrial and manufacturing systems. Learn more about other methods and applications for laser cutting.
Plastic Degating using Lasers:
A specific application of laser cutting of plastic is degating molded plastic parts. Separating individual molded plastic parts from the runner at the gate often requires precise cut locations and is sensitive to stress caused by the fixture or process. Plastic degating is a perfect match for laser technology because the focused laser spot can be accurately directed to the cut location using any of the cutting methods discussed above and is also a non-contact process. Laser degating creates minimal strain in the parts and produces cut edges that do not require any post processing. Contact CMS Laser today by filling out our contact form in the sidebar to see how our engineers can design a laser system to meet your plastic degating needs.