Laser technology has many advantages over traditional drilling methods. It enables more precise drilling, makes no mechanical contact with plastic parts and lets you switch between hole sizes and shapes quickly and easily.
Depending on the order you need to fill, you may require different hole sizes for a specific part. Thanks to laser drilling, you can stock undrilled parts and then drill the required hole size once the order is placed. As a result, you don’t have to stock the same part with different pre-drilled holes. Our custom software even lets you change hole size and shape in real time without stopping your production line.
Other advantages of laser drilling include:
- Non-contact process. Laser drilling eliminates cleaning, sharpening and replacing bits and other parts.
- Flexibility. Depending on your application and polymer, easily tune hole shapes and sizes via simple software inputs.
- Taper control. Control taper dimensions and shapes by micromachining hole edges. We even offer microscope measurement capabilities to profile holes in three dimensions.
- On-the-Fly Processing. Our systems drill holes as parts travel down the production line—increasing your production speed and flexibility even further.
Several laser types are suitable for drilling plastic. Your choice depends on the hole size, shape, edge quality, taper and speed:
- CO2 lasers (far-IR wavelengths) — for applications where speed is important, such as On-the-Fly production lines. This laser quickly ablates plastic, leaving behind a consistent melted hole. In addition to the standard 10.6 μm wavelength, we offer 9.4 and 10.2 μm lasers, which deliver superior results on many polymers.
- Fiber lasers (with near-IR wavelengths) — a lower-cost option for plastics with colorants or additives. This type promotes the absorption of near-IR wavelengths.
- Frequency tripled diode lasers (UV wavelength with nanosecond pulse durations) — utilize a “cold cutting process” that reduces heat and results in lower edges. The UV wavelength breaks the bonds of the plastic quickly and ablates the material with minimal melting. UV lasers are ideal for small, precise holes.
- Femtosecond lasers — their ultrashort pulse duration means higher peak power, resulting in faster ablation with virtually no heat effect on the part. These lasers are ideal for medical device manufacturing and other applications requiring extreme precision.
Our engineers are happy to help you determine the most efficient, cost-effective laser and optics configuration for your application. We design plastic laser drilling systems for a variety of manufacturing applications—from spray nozzle valves to irrigation tape.