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Laser Basics InsertThe following piece (PDF) is an example of laser processing using 0.075mm polyester and acrylic adhesive. This application utilized laser technology along with a tiling technique to compensate for the inherent screen print stretch. A screen printed sheet was sectioned into quadrants to improve on cut-to-screen registration.

 

Stop/Start Marks - Stop and start marks result from the point where a laser enters the material to where the cutting process ends. If the geometry of the cut is such that the line comes back to meet the initial start mark, there may be some overlap. This condition may be more evident on some types of materials.

Other issues to consider for control of cut quality include:

  • Accuracy
  • Taper/angle
  • Power level
  • Productivity rate
  • Edge quality
  • Distortion

Advantages of Using Lasers in the Gasket Industry

AcuTear PackagingCost -With the selection of the right laser and platform, a gasket manufacturing process can be set up with no tooling costs and gives the operator the ability to cut micro features not typically possible with standard male/female and steel rule dies or etching tooling.

The use of lasers has other advantages over die cutting in processing because there are no die setup costs, no die maintenance, and no storage costs. If a project is recalled into production, a digital program can quickly be retrieved.

Materials Flexibility - Abrasive, adhesive, cork, paper, rubber, silicone, steel, and many types of polymer materials are all prime candidates for processing using laser technology. Laser cutting produces exceptional edge quality, important when processing these materials. Also, laser cutting leaves little or no burrs, debris, or strands on the material edges. Further, applications are not limited to just cutting — welding, heat treating, and marking are also common uses for laser technology.

The table below provides information about laser cutting of various materials typically found in the gasket industry. However, the linear speed listed is based on a single system and is not intended to indicate optimal parameters for any specific material.

Laser Materials Chart

Flexibility in the Types of Jobs - When a job requires a quick setup or a pattern change, the use of lasers cannot be beat. Similarly, if the project requires a great deal of vision alignment and registration, laser technology allows the operator to register parts before processing and align the cut pattern registration features – either printed or mold features.

Reduced Time to Proficiency for Operators - With the wide acceptance of Microsoft Windows™ computer operating systems, the training of laser systems operators has been greatly simplified in the past several years. The typical steps in training a laser operator are simply to:

  • Generate a program file (CAD or CNC)
  • Create a laser parameter and recipe storage file
  • Execute the program file

Once an operator has mastered these fundamental steps, new jobs can be rapidly set up on the laser system.

Laser Safety and Maintenance - There are some safety and maintenance issues that must be taken into account when using a laser. First, safety issues include awareness that when working some materials like PVC, noxious gases are emitted during the cutting process. Common solutions to safety and quality issues include the installation of air flow handling equipment and masking devices.

For the most part, the newest generation of lasers are sealed systems that require little maintenance. Typical failure points in a laser system are usually the external optics, especially when they are not properly maintained. To prevent laser optic failure, routine maintenance includes periodic cleaning.

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