5 Materials That Are Suitable for Laser Cutting
A laser is used for cutting materials in many industries. Here are 5 materials that are suitable for laser cutting.
There are many different tools you might choose to use to cut something. One of the more high-tech options, often used in industrial settings, is a laser cutter. There are a large variety of appropriate laser cutting materials, including aluminium, acrylic, wood, cardboard and foam.
What is laser cutting and how does it work?
A laser cutter uses a high-powered laser to cut, etch, and bore materials. The laser either melts, burns, or vaporizes the substance being cut, and some models use a jet of gas to blow away the excess material. Usually, the laser is computer-controlled, which allows for a high degree of precision and increased speed.
The production and manufacturing processes worldwide have been evolving and innovating at an increasingly fast rate; as innovation evolves, so must all the processes and those helping to drive it. Laser cutting is a more efficient and reliable process that has risen in line with the increasing demand for manufacturing and production. For cutting edge solutions to your manufacturing and fabrication processes, you can check out laser cutting services from GCI Group to help you with your project.
Many different metals are suitable for laser cutting. Aluminium can be cut with a laser, but its high reflectivity makes it more challenging to cut, requiring either a fibre laser or a CO2 laser with at least 250 watts. Laser cutters made to cut aluminium must also have safeguards to protect the laser mechanism from being damaged by reflected radiation.
Laser cut aluminium is often used for lightweight gears and technical parts. Car parts, aeroplane components and bicycle elements are some examples of uses for this material.
Laser cut acrylic can achieve a high level of detail, engraves well and is quite affordable. The high-quality appearance and finish of acrylic make it suitable for finished pieces that are meant to be seen, such as jewellery, signage, wall art and electronic enclosures.
A wood laser cutter can create a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing finished projects. The wide variety of different woods available creates many different appearances. Decorations, letters, bookmarks, frames, furniture, and light fixtures are just a few examples of things laser cut wood can make. The laser cutter can also make beautiful engraved designs on wood.
Although it is not durable or suited to engraving, cardboard is another material that is suitable for laser cutting. It is inexpensive, easy to paint and easy to join (such as with staples, tape or glue). These qualities make it ideal for prototypes, crafts and kids' projects.
Another important application for cardboard is the packaging and advertising industries. Pattern creation, modelling, personalised or individualised design articles and products are becoming more important and demand total flexibility in production.
The industrial use of laser-cut foam has grown rapidly in recent years. Upholstery, car interiors and sound insulation require very soft foam often made of polyurethane. The graphics industry also uses laser-cut polyurethane foams to create presentation materials.
Packaging material also takes advantage of the laser cutting process to create precise shapes needed to protect the goods being transported. This requires a harder foam material such as polyethylene or polypropylene. The high stability and low weight of the latter also make it suitable for use in advertising.
This is just a small sampling of the many types of materials suitable for cutting by laser cutters. As you can see from this list, the process has both industrial applications and small-scale uses. Depending on the material used, laser cutting can produce functional components, decorative projects or even parts for crafts.