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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 Plastic Laser Cutting:
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 Plastic Laser Cutting:
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
Lasers can also be used to remove plastic from molded parts. This process is called laser plastic degating and uses a vision system to recognize the location for cutting. Learn more about how lasers can be used for removing excess plastic and for separating injection molded parts here.