Laser cutting circular shapes out of thin metal

Cutting

Synrad high performance CO2 lasers cut a wide variety of materials with incredible accuracy. Laser cutting can accommodate almost any geometry, including straight lines and geometric or organic shapes. The laser has no moving parts to wear or break down, and little required maintenance, reducing the total cost of ownership when compared to traditional mechanical cutting equipment. Short setup times, no consumable parts, and long operating lifetimes minimize production downtimes. Knowing the material type, cutting depth, throughput speed, and accuracy requirements help determine the best Synrad laser for your application.

Rubber

Rubber is generally an excellent absorber of CO2 radiation - the breakdown occurs at low energy levels, so cut speed is rapid. A principal advantage is the non-contact aspect. Laser cutting rubber imparts no mechanical force on the target material, which is easily deformed by traditional contact cutting methods. Cut edge quality is related to the grade of rubber. Carbon added to the rubber formulation in differing amounts determines the grade. The effect of increased carbon levels is a reduction in cut speed. Some residue will remain on the cut edge along with black or white vapor discoloration, either is easily wiped off. Recommended rubber cutting lasers:

Metals

Cutting metal is significantly different than cutting plastics or most other materials, due to subtle effects of laser parameters, such as gas pressure and purity, nozzle design and standoff, polarization, beam quality and laser pulsing. Synrad's proprietary, all-metal tube design ensures industry leading beam quality and reliability, with a range of 200W – 400W lasers that boast exceptional rise/fall times and peak power for laser pulsing. Laser cutting thin metals like mild stainless steel and aluminum yields excellent edge quality, when delivered with an oxygen assist gas that provides additional cutting energy and forces the molten metal through the cut kerf. Recommended thin metals cutting lasers:

Plastics

Most plastics can be cut with a laser. Acrylics cut best and yield flame-polished edges, saving time and resources by avoiding additional processing steps. Thermoplastics (like acrylic, polystyrene, PETG, etc.) can be cut with laser powers below 100 W using air or pure nitrogen as an assist gas to minimize melting. Thermosets (like polyamide or FR4) typically cut with some charring avoided by cutting slower using at least 100 W laser power. Recommended plastics cutting lasers:

Paper & Paperboard

Paper and Paperboard cutting is by thermo-chemical degradation with no contact to the target material, offering particular advantages due to the lack of mechanical force required for processing. Typically, there is no edge charring, and minimal discoloration with paperboard. Laser power is a key factor in cutting speed. Recommended paper and paperboard cutting lasers:

Wood

Cutting wood is another laser-friendly application, where the cut is by chemical degradation, although processing is extremely sensitive to variations in moisture and density. Dry, lightweight woods cut fastest; dense or moisture-laden woods cut more slowly. Consistent storage conditions and moisture control are extremely important in obtaining repeatable cutting results. Recommended wood cutting lasers:

Ceramic & Glass

Ceramic and glass' unique physical properties make cutting difficult. Their brittleness and low thermal expansion offer a significant challenge to mechanical cutting methods. Heat effect and cracking are often an issue for simple through cutting. Scribing (perforating a line of holes) and cleaving along the scribed line is the common process for simple shapes. Lasers with high, peak pulse power are preferred for this process. Recommended ceramic and glass cutting lasers:

Textiles

Common thermoplastic polymer textiles like polyester and nylon cut very well with a laser. The cutting process seals fabric edges, leaving no frayed fibers and reducing the need for additional processing steps, commonly associated with mechanical cutting. Laser processing speeds for textiles are very high, laser power requirements are low, and assist gas usage is greatly reduced or eliminated. Recommended textiles cutting lasers:

Thin Films

Cutting by chemical degradation with no contact with the target material is a significant advantage when processing very thin electronic and packaging films. Processing speeds are high and laser power requirements are low. When cutting multilayer materials, interlayer bonding and deformation due to melt-back are primary concerns. Balancing laser power, spot size, and wavelength to minimize heat affected zone are key. Recommended thin film cutting lasers:

Leather

Intricate design cutting for leather wearables and decorative appliques is a common application for lasers. Lasers offer the advantage of cutting and marking in the same process, saving significant time and resources by combining these process steps. Processing speeds are high and laser powers of at least 100W are used. Recommended leather cutting lasers:

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