Do you already combine digital printing with laser cutting produce high-quality and large-format signage, one-offs or small series displays made from acrylic, wood, polypropylene, cardboard, textiles or polystyrene?
Practical tip: Print registration marks on your material in addition to the design and you can use the precision and flexibility of a laser cutter to shape and contour finished printed products.
Laser technology offers the unique combination of consistently uniform results here. The recommended procedure is always to print before cutting. When cutting, it is important to optimise the graphic preparation for the cutting job: The fewer nodes or anchor points there are in the graphic, the faster the laser can cut the printed materials.
Here, we show you several diverse applications that laser cutting technology brings advantages to and we provide you with expert tips to get the best results for print and cut jobs.
Acrylic (also known by trade names such as Plexiglas® or Perspex®) is one of the most popular materials in sign making. Typical applications include signage, illuminated letters, information boards, building plans and versatile point of sale displays for the electronics, cosmetics, food, drugstore and jewellery, industries to name a few.
What should you pay attention to?
- For print & cut applications, we recommend the use of acrylic with a thickness of 3-10 mm.
- Extruded acrylic is very popular for pluggable applications due to its low thickness tolerance (uniformity in thickness).
- Cast acrylic is primarily used for shop fitting, trade fair construction, POS displays and visual merchandising.
- Use the right laser processing table (matched to the size of the parts and materials), the right lens (for your material and the chosen thickness) and table extraction.
- For large acrylic applications with a material thickness of 5 mm or more, we recommend using the lamella table. This way there are fewer contact points with the material and fewer potential back reflections that can affect the material.
Benefit from the advantages of laser technology in acrylic cutting:
- Crystal clear edges without reworking
- No tool change and no tool wear
- No tool maintenance and preparation
- No chips
- Finest geometries and detailing
- Compact nesting - reduced material requirements
- Small cutting gap and many other advantages.
Get our e-book which provides a comparison of laser technology compared to milling in relation to acrylic processing. Learn why laser technology is the most economical solution for your business:
Printed wood applications are specifically found in interior signage and sales stands - especially in the sustainable sector. Some examples include logos, display stands, spice stands and point of sale on decoration for the presentation of high-quality and natural products.
The fine geometries and the small cutting gap of the laser also enable the best results for other products like printed wooden puzzles and wooden construction kits.
When processing wood, the compressed air connection is essential to keep the material surface as clean as possible. This allows an optimal cutting result to be achieved. Table suction is also important to make the most of the vacuum effect and keep the material positioned flat on the table.
The advantages of laser processing wood are:
- Fast machining without pre- and post-processes of the material
- Quiet and clean (no chips)
- Consistent quality because there is no tool change
- Precise cutting and finest geometries
Polypropylene is commonly used for mobile Point of Sales (POS) for the display of goods within indoor and outdoor environments. A distinction is made between double-webbed sheets and solid material. Double-webbed sheets are stable and light-weight making them a choice material for ceiling hangers in retail shops or trade fairs, as well as for advertising pylons.
Both double-webbed sheets and solid Polypropylene sheets are suitable for bendable and foldable applications such as lamps, exhibition furniture, table displays and lecterns. When folding, it should be noted that the material has a gain direction. This means that the material behaves differently depending on its orientation and that the material can be folded better in one direction than in the other.
Illuminated signs and displays get the attention of customers very quickly, so lighting is an increasingly popular trend for POS displays. It can be implemented more easily and safely in permanent displays with the help of polypropylene, as you can in the image.
Benefit from the advantages of laser technology when cutting polypropylene:
- Fast machining processes
- Clean (no chips)
- Consistent quality because there is no tool change
- Precise cutting and finely detailed geometries
- No cracks on the cutting edge
Environmentally-friendly and cost-effective temporary displays are often made from cardboard, laminated corrugated board of solid board. These materials can be printed with custom designs and are perfect for life-sized 'cardboard cutouts' and striking signage for use within merchandise displays, indoor sales promotions and POS within retail, events and trade shows.
These are the advantages of laser technology compared to alternative technologies such as knives and die-cutting:
- Due to the non-contact cutting, no mechanical fixing of the material is necessary.
- No damage to the material: light materials such as cardboard can therefore be cut very quickly and easily.
Contours can be freely defined - complex geometries and filigree shapes can be precisely implemented.
Lightweight foam sheets made of polystyrene are characterised by a particularly low weight, high dimensional stability and uncomplicated further processing. Polystyrene - also known under the trade name Smart-X® - is an inexpensive material and therefore perfectly suited for temporary displays (POS / POP). Whether in shop design, shop fitting, or for advertising displays, shop window designs, partition walls and cladding. This material is also very often used in model making.
Note: Forex® is a foamed PVC that cannot be cut with a laser. Smart-X, on the other hand, has been specially developed for this purpose. Smart-X applications are typically produced in a thickness of 5-10 mm.
Important: a compressed air connection is essential for this application so that the temperature can be kept low and the cutting result is optimised. At the same time, discolouration of the material is avoided.
The advantages of laser processing low-density lightweight polystyrene foam sheets are:
- The low wastage due to the dense nesting
- Almost radius-free inner contours
- No chips
- No material fixing is necessary
- Consistent quality is guaranteed because there is no tool change