4. What is the CO2 laser used for?
CO2 lasers are used in the power range of 10 to 400 watts for laser cutting, perforating or engraving thin, organic materials, including woods, textiles or plastics. Very high laser cutting quality can be achieved by cutting PMMA materials such as acrylic including Plexiglas. When laser cutting is correctly performed on this material, the laser cut edges are just as transparent as the rest of the material, known as a flame polished edge for cast acrylics.
CO2 lasers with increased power between 1 to 6 kilowatts are typical industrial lasers used for welding, hardening or remelting metals. In modern production, CO2 lasers are increasingly used for oxide-free laser cutting. In particular, the laser cutting machines are used for small batches in sheet metal processing. For larger quantities, however, punching remains a more economical option.
The CO2 laser is used in a wide variety of industries. At the forefront is the automotive industry, where lasers are used to perforate the breaking point in the dashboard for airbags. Headliners or side panels are also manufactured using CO2 lasers.
Even in the clothing industry, there is a variety of applications for the CO2 laser. From fabric blanks to the texturing of jeans, the laser is an environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical and abrasive processes.
One future-proof market for the CO2 laser is the laser cutting of fiber-reinforced plastics such as GRP and CRP. Here, it is the automotive, aviation or wind energy industries, where fiber-reinforced plastics are used as part of the answer to important issues of the times, such as sustainability, resource efficiency or climate protection.