Fast and precise, laser cutting is gaining more and more popularity over technologies like water beam cutting, die cutting or plasma cutting. Lasers can cut the most wide variety of materials, from tissue paper to wood, plastic, marble or steel.
CO2 lasers are suitable for cutting any non-metal materials; with the aid of assist gas, even metal cutting is possible. Fiber lasers are suitable for any kind of material.
The pros of laser cutting:
- The edges of the cut are clean and even.
- Cuts in clear perspex are smooth, glossy and transparent.
- Lasers can be easily set to cut both thin and thick materials (500+ mm in non-metals), and to cut variable thickness in one operation.
- The precision of laser cutting allows layout planning with minimal waste.
- Lasers can cut both simple and complex shapes with the same unrivalled precision – from straight lines to intricate lacy patterns
- The maintenance costs are very low. The life expectancy of an average CO2 laser tube is 20000 hours and the only maintenance required is a once or twice-a-year check-up and cleaning.
- Laser cutting is contactless and almost noiseless.
- Laser cutters can be set up for variable depth and length of cut – cutting, perforating, notching, punching.
Examples of laser cutting applications:
- design and print: paper cutting (cards, invitations, brochures), foil, vinyl, stickers, promotional items
- textile industry: fabric and leather cutting, patterns, wall coverings, interior panels
- furniture production: no noise and no dust wood and plywood cutting
- interior design: perspex, acrylic, plastic, wood cutting – light fittings, panels, banisters, ornaments
- metalworking: pipe, square tube, metal parts cutting
Paper cutting – a 3D paper bird puzzle:
- steel, iron
- copper, brass
Lasers for metal cutting
The small-sized, low-maintenance fiber cutting lasers with power from 500 W to 3 kW and a very high efficiency (up to 50 %) are the best solution for metal cutting. Fiber lasers are more expensive than CO2 lasers, but thanks to their cost effectivenes, they are the best solution where productivity and precision is key. The only consumables required are the protective glasses, nozzles and nozzle covers.
Fiber lasers can be used with or without assist gasses (oxygen, nitrogen, argon, dry air). The laser beam is transmitted via an optical cable, allowing for a maximum flexibility and integrability.
With its low effectivity (10 %), high consumables cost (regular replacement of focus lenses, mirrors), high maintenance cost (refurbishments, optical path resetting) and the need for assist and cutting gasses, CO2 lasers are not the first choice for metal cutting. However, both the speed and precision of cutting are good
Disk laser cutters are similar to fiber lasers in their specs and costs, but the efficiency is considerably lower (30 %).
Thin sheet metal cutting with the Mercury Fiber laser:
Non-metal material cutting
The range of materials cuttable with laser is almost unlimited:
- paper, cardboard
- plywood, wood, particle boards
- perspex / plexiglass / acrylic glass
- textiles (cotton, wool, silk, manmade), leatherette, nonwovens
- adhesive foil
A CO2 laser with 30W to 400W power (or more for special applications) is the best solution for cutting non-metal materials. The speed, presicion and cost effectiveness exceeds any other methods of cutting. Simple regular maintenance (check-up and cleaning once every 6-12 months) is required and the lifespan of the CO2 tube is 10000-20000 hours.
The CO2 cutting lasers can be used for marking and engraving all the materials listed above. With one system, you can cut and mark paper, fabric, plastic, wood etc.
Acrylic glass being cut with the NRGL laser: