Worldwide Laser demonstrates and discusses the Co2 [specifications] Laser Cutting Plastic process. Co2 automation   

Laser Cutting Plastic with Laser Automation

Cutting plastic with automation is most often achieved with the LP8000 series of Co2. The Co2 series at 10600nm or 10.6µm are available from Worldwide Laser Service Corporation ,in powers ranging from 10 watts to 400 watts. These can be either air cooled or water cooled. Cutting systems can be configured with galvo scanners, or fixed beam system with x-y tables or combinations of these items. The system can also be equipped with articulated arms and/or robotics. Cutting systems using the Co2 format can be assisted with air or neutral [cooling] gas assist if required.

laser cutting plastic

Another working option for cutting can be the LP9000U series of 355nm lasers, the LP9500 series of 532nm , or in some cases the LP9000F series of fiber lasers. Generally when the UV [355nm] or Green [532] nm series are used for cutting the process is slower. The process also involves removal of material layer by layer through the use of multiple passes.

This process is very important and useful in situations or applications such as the following:

  • When the plastic [or some other material] being removed or cut is on top of a layer which should not be cut or damaged.
  • When the material being cut is extremely sensitive to heat and heat transference. The 532nm and 355nm wavelength will significantly reduce or even eliminate heat transfer into the material, sometimes referred to as cool laser cutting.

Cutting plastic or other materials with Fiber lasers can also be useful. The applications lab at WLSC Gilbert AZ facility is equipped to test laser cut materials with the all four laser platforms.

Laser Cutting Plastic

Laser Cutting Plastic Uses and Considerations

Generally speaking use of laser automation for cutting operations is driven by the materials being cut, for example:

  • Polycarbonate [PC] has a dense molecule. While PC does cut quickly with Co2 automation, the dense molecule structure produces high heat when placed in interaction with the beam of a Co2 system. This results in discoloration and ‘yellowing’ of the cut material there are ways for minimize the effect:
    • Air or gas assist to help reduce or minimize the transference of heat into the PC.
    • Cutting at higher power, faster speeds, and using multiple passes sometimes with a pause between the passes.
    • These steps will increase the time spent cutting. The steps will not completely eliminate the yellowing or discoloration of the PC. So for applications where the final cut area is visible to end users, PC and the Co2  series may not be the best option. 532 [green] or 355 [UV] cutting options for these products could be explored; these are generally slower but might accomplish the goals.
  • Acrylic is a more loosely pack or less dense plastic which cuts extremely well. This cuts without discoloration producing a nice clean polished finish at the cut point.
  • Other plastics such as HDPE and/or thin films such as Kapton [polyamide] or packaging materials, [Foils, Mylar’s] are excellent candidates for cutting.
  • PCV should never but cut or marked/etched with lasers as the light and heat create a highly toxic gas, in these applications a high level fume extraction system is required.
  • Let us test cut your plastic products in our applications lab to determine the correct power, laser settings and speeds methods to cut your plastic products.

Why Laser Cutting Plastic ?

Discussed here is one way to cut plastic.  Laser are very useful in the automotive industry for degate operations and removing plastic parts from injection mold trees. In these automotive applications, or for any laser cutting operations the use of laser automation provides the following benefits:

  • There is no mechanical contact with the part being cut, no blades, knives, or hot wires need to make contact with the parts:
    • Nothing can get dull or unsharpened thus causing damage to the parts.
    • Scrap rates related to parts being damaged during cutting are significantly reduced or eliminated.
    • Manufacturing costs are significantly reduced because:
      • No expense related to replacement of mechanical cutting systems; [I.E. blades, hot wires, or knives]
      • No expense related to lost production time required when a product change [change in shape, design, or gate being cut] – mechanical cutting system generally require re-tooling, laser cutting systems only require a change in imported art work.

About Worldwide Laser Service Corporation [WLSC]

For over 31 years, has been operating in Phoenix, Az with head quarters in Gilbert, AZ. WLSC was founded July of 1986. We have been providing laser automation and fully integrated laser systems to end users through N. American and in ten [10] other countries outside N. America. WLSC has the ability to build, design, install, and maintain automation systems with several different laser platforms for Co2, Fiber/YAG, UV-355nm, and Geen-532nm series. The automation engineers at WLSC have a combined 100+ years’ experience in running applications tests and for end users to make sure the correct platforms are chosen for the end user’s requirements. Then we assist to design, build, and install the integrated laser solution. WLSC has an applications lab in our Gilbert AZ facility with Co2, YAG\Fiber, UV and Green lasers coupled with either galvo scanner heads or fixed beam deliveries for testing products. WLSC is especially expert with laser cutting plastics with laser automation for cutting systems [robotics, fixtures, articulated arms, pick in place, {vacuum}, vibratory bowls & feeder tracks; for example]. Our mission at WLSC is to reduce manufacturing costs, protect products and consumers, and provide an Eco-Friendly green manufacturing environment, at Worldwide Laser we know LASERS and we look forward to working with you and your facilities for laser automation matters, contact WLSC at any time, we look forward to hearing from you.