The application of laser cutting is increasingly becoming popular in todays cutting and engraving industries. Laser technology enables the creation of almost all geometric shapes and sizes, achieving the smallest contours with the perfect amount of control and quality every time during the laser cutting process. Below is an indepth view of how laser cutting works and for which materials it can be used.


Laser cutting procedure explained technically

Laser cutting as a method is a type of a thermal separation process. The laser beam hits the surface of the material and heats it so powerfully that it melts the material that is being laser cut. Afterwards, the process of laser cutting begins as soon as the laser beam has fully penetrated the material. The laser system follows the selected geometry and separates the material in the process. Depending on the application, the use of process gases can positively influence the results.

Discover more on the technical procedure involved in laser cutting in our video.

HOW DOES LASER CUTTING WORK? HERE'S A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF THE BASICS

Learn more about the process of laser cutting in this video

The advantages of a laser when cutting

Here are the main reasons why you would use a laser for the cutting process:

   
Suitable for many type of materials No other technology can cut so many different types of organic and inorganic materials.
No post processing is necessary Laser cutting is a separation process where post cleaning is not necessary in many cases. The edges of textiles such as synthetics or carpet, are sealed so tight together that it is almost impossible for them to unravel. 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. This makes it possible to cut very fine geometries of any shape. In addition, integrated cameras (JobControl Vision) can create registration marks and automatically compensate for the cutting path - even if the original template gets out of alignment, turned or distorted.
No tool wear needed
Laser cutting machines are not subject to wear, for example, tool heads do not become dull. This saves operational costs.

Laser cutting, plasma cutting, mechanical cutting - cutting procedures in comparison

Plasma cutting is a thermal fusion cutting process that is frequently used to cut steel, stainless steel and aluminum. The main disadvantage of plasma cutting in comparison to a laser cutter is the cutting quality, higher energy consumption, increased dust creation and noise emissions. Although you will find that when cutting any electrically conductive material, plasma cutting is often preferred due to its flexibility.

Compared to mechanical chip removal cutting processes, however, a laser also often has its advantages. The non-contact processing, reduced setup costs, lower contamination and flexibility for processing are just a few of those. Depending on the material and application, every processing method naturally has its advantages, for instance, when cutting multiple samples in a stack at the same time.

What materials can be cut with the laser?

The versatility of materials that can be processed is one of the great advantages of the laser.
You can see the range of possibilities for yourself from the following table.

Plastic 

Miscellanious

Metal

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

Trotec product recommendation for laser engraving:

Discover Speedy laser engraving machines

Laser Cutters - SP Series

SP series: CO2 laser cutter for large-format materials.

Product Details

Other laser applications: Marking and cutting

Trotec offers laser machines that are not only suitable for engraving, but also for laser marking and laser cutting.
Find out more on laser processing methods: