Laser cutting ADA signage

All you need to know about laser cutting

High precision, speed and versatility – this is how the laser cutting process impresses. You can cut almost any material with a laser cutter. For example, when laser cutting acrylic, you get a crystal-clear cut edge, while with textiles, the edge is sealed by the heat of the laser beam. The areas of application range from creative applications, such as decorative items made of wood or signage, to architectural model making to cutting large-format materials such as acrylic sheets or foils.

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What can I make with a laser cutter?

You can cut a wide variety of materials with a laser cutter:

  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Textiles
  • Foam
  • And many more.

A laser cutter can be used to create detailed architectural models or to refine paper. Laser cutting is also a popular manufacturing process when cutting large-format materials or technical textiles – for example, when cutting car seats or interior linings. The versatility of laser cutting is helpful in the packaging sector, as you can easily and flexibly perforate, groove or score paper or cardboard.

What can I design and produce with a laser cutter?

In addition to cutting applications, lasers can also engrave and mark a wide range of materials and products. Everything from awards and trophies, signs, displays, industrial part marking, personalisation, medical equipment, architectural models, stamp production and much more is possible. Laser cutters are therefore a popular technology across many industries, in which the combination of laser cutting, laser engraving and marking enables the development of new products and business expansion.

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What are the application fields for laser cutting?

  • Advertising technology and digital printing: Merchandise and POS displays, neon and advertising signs or acrylic letters are produced with crystal-clear cut edges with no post-processing required.
  • Creative sector: Toys, puzzles, craft supplies made from wood
  • Fashion, design & handicraft: Natural leather, artificial leather, cotton, linen, felt can be cut to create clothing, jewellery, decorations and more 
  • Packaging industry – paper, for example printed materials
  • Electronics industry: Laser cutting of foils and membrane keyboards made of plastic such as polyester, polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate and polyamide

Laser cutting: What materials can be processed?

One of the biggest advantages of laser cutting technology is the wide range of materials suitable for processing. The table below lists the suitable materials:

Plastic 

Miscellaneous

Metal

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Wood Metal foils up to 0.5mm
Acrylic/PMMA Polyimide (PI) Paper (white)  
Rubber Polyoxymethylene (POM) -i.e. Delrin® Paper (coloured)  
Polyamide (PA) Polypropylene (PP) Food  
Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) Leather  
Polycarbonate (PC) Polystyrene (PS) Fabric  
Polyethylene (PE) Polyurethane (PUR) Cardboard/Card  
Polyester (PES) Foam (PVC free) Cork  

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diy ice cream sign

Inspiration: Sample templates for laser cutting

Our tutorial section offers a selection of laser samples that have been cut, engraved or marked with Trotec laser machines.
All samples are described in detail and come complete with instructions and free design files that you can use yourself.

Laser samples with instructions and file templates

The advantages of laser cutting

Listed below are four of the main reasons to use laser cutting for material processing:

   
Suitable for many type of materials No other technology can cut so many different types of organic and non-organic materials.
No post-processing required As laser cutting is a separation process, no post-processing is necessary in many cases. As an example, the edges of textiles are sealed  during laser cutting, so that no unravelling occurs. This saves post-processing procedures, such as mechanical sealing or sanding, depending on the type of material being processed.
High accuracy The resulting kerf is barely larger than the laser beam itself, making it possible to cut very fine geometries of any shape. Additionally, an integrated camera system (JobControl Vision) can read registration marks and automatically compensate for the laser cutting path - even if the original template is out of alignment, turned or distorted.
No tool wear
As laser cutting is a contactless process, the beam is not subject to wear unlike other technologies, an example of which would be a tool head becoming dull. This helps to reduce processing costs.

Why laser cutting is profitable?

Laser cutting is significantly cheaper than other cutting techniques. Compared to milling, there are no time-consuming or costly production steps, while the acquisition costs of a laser cutter are amortised over the course of a year.
Here is a calculation example:

Production costs p.a. Comparison of milling vs. laser processing
Cost type Milling Lasering  
Clamping material & creating vacuum £10,500 (£35 / h * 300 h) £0  
Edge finishing (flame polishing) £70,000 (£35 / h * 2000 h) £0  
Other set-up time and machine cleaning £3,500 (£35 / h * 100 h) £3,500 (£35 / h * 100 h)  
Filter costs £0 £3,000 (60 kg activated carbon)  
Work head £6,000 (£30 * 200 heads p.a.) £4,000 (1/2 refill p.a.) Difference
  £90,000 £10,500 £79,500
Cost advantage of a Trotec laser cutter
Cost/yield type Milling Lasering Difference
Investment costs £29,000 £115,000 - £86,000
Process costs p.a. £90,000 £10,500 £79,500
Additional profit contribution p.a. (new application acrylic engraving, etc.) £0 £10,000 £10,000
    Cost advantage after 1 year of production £3,500
    After 2 years of production £93,000
    After 3 years of production £182,500

 

Laser cutting is a precise, clean and efficient process:

  1. Laser processing achieves crystal-clear cut edges on cast acrylics with no additional material processing required. Flame polished edges are achieved immediately after laser processing. 
  2. For engravers, sign makers, advertising technicians, creative or industrial users, the first-class laser cutters offer a real competitive advantage.
    Personalisation or customisation creates significant added value for products made of wood, plastic or glass.
  3. When processing foils, the laser produces sealed edges. In contrast to punching, the laser doesn’t damage the end product, with laser cuts being very precise and clean.
  4. Trotec laser machines are developed for 24/7 operation. They are the right tool for everyone from business starters or experienced entrepreneurs who want to work more efficiently – quickly, productively and reliably.

From idea to finished product with laser technology: The ideal tool for prototyping and digital manufacturing

FabLabs, Maker Spaces, schools and universities use lasers  for model making, industrial design, prototyping and many other DIY ideas. The incredible design possibilities offered by laser technology are ideal for all types of art and design projects: Laser machines are used to process a variety of materials including MDF, cardboard, or polystyrene. Laser technology gives users complete freedom in the development and implementation of all their ideas, while laser cutting used in combination with laser engraving enables creative minds to create inspiring designs in just a few steps.

What is the best laser cutting machine for you?

Different machines are available depending on the field of application.

Would you like to speed up your production? If you answered yes, then the Speedy series laser engravers and cutters are the perfect tool.

Our Speedy systems are the fastest laser engravers and cutters on the market. 100% developed and manufactured in Austria. Our development team only selects first-class components. This guarantees minimal maintenance, maximum runtime and a smooth workflow.

Speedy laser engraver and cutter

Do you process large formats? Experience the SP series laser machines for yourself.

The laser cutting machines of the SP series are CO₂ laser machines for large-format materials with processing areas of 1245x710 mm up to 3250 x 3210 mm. The highly-efficient laser plotters (flatbed lasers) are perfect for demanding cutting applications,such as plastic or acrylic glass, textiles, wood and other materials.

SP laser cutting machine

Laser cutting is easy with the right software.

Trotec Ruby makes working with the laser easier and faster. Easily create designs, graphics, photo and text elements. Adjustments can be made quickly with the integrated workflow. You can switch between the “design” and “preparation” steps at any time in software that is both a graphics and a laser program. With all the graphics tools that laser users need. The Ruby laser software enables direct file import of pdf, svg, png, etc. These functionalities halve the time from the idea to the finished product. Without costs for additional software packages.

Seamless workflow

Idea Product

Search and edit laser designs and jobs

Create laser designs and texts

Get jobs ready for production

Run jobs on your laser

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