Laser Cutting

Learn about laser cutting, the process that uses laser light to cut a target, through various marking examples.

Basic principles of cutting using laser markers

Lasers can cut materials by melting or evaporating a target surface, thus producing a cut.

Generally, non-laser cutting machines require a die or blade. These contact-based methods run the risk of distortion during processing. Laser cutting is non-contact, so the risk of distortion is minimal. This makes laser cutting suitable for processing targets like thin plates and films.

Gate cutting
Gate cutting

Laser cutting example — Laser cutting of electric wire coating

Application Explanation

Blades are typically used to remove the coating from electric wires. This contact-based cutting method is difficult to adjust and carries the risk of damaging the core wire. Additionally, the cutting blade must be periodically replaced to maintain a sharp cut, thereby increasing running costs.

CO2 laser light is not absorbed by metal but instead reflected. Therefore, there's no need to worry about accidentally damaging the core wire when using these machines to cut coatings. As a result, there will be fewer defective products and an increase in overall quality.

Cutting of electric wire coating

Processing a coaxial cable requires the combined power of a CO2 laser and YVO4 laser. The CO2 laser is used to cut the outer coating, since CO2 laser light isn't absorbed by metal. The YVO4 laser is used to cut the inner and outer conductors of the microfabricated metal. Simultaneous processing is possible by taking advantage of various laser types.

Combined CO2 laser and YVO4 laser technique
Combined CO2 laser and YVO4 laser technique

Mirrored surfaces (such as SUS) can be used to reflect CO2 laser light, making it possible to cut the back and front of an electrical wire at the same time Simplifying the process to a single step drastically reduces takt time and improves overall production efficiency.

Simultaneous cutting of the back and front of electric wire

Basic principles of etching using laser markers

It's possible to make cuts, incisions and grooves at varying depths by controlling the scan speed and output of a laser marker. The label processing example below uses low laser output for marking and high laser output around the marking to create shallow cuts.

Etching of labels
Etching of labels
Etching of labels

Etching example — Creating perforations on film

Application Explanation

A great example of shallow cutting is the perforation on bags that makes them easier to open by hand. Conventional methods use a blade to make the cuts, but these systems are difficult to adjust and time-consuming to change settings between products. Blades also need to be frequently replaced, and there's always a risk that the blade breaks off into the bag.

Creating perforations on film

Advantages of laser processing

The lack of consumable components helps reduce costs and improve productivity.

Non-contact laser processing drastically reduces running costs due to the lack of required maintenance and replacement parts. As a result, stable processing is ensured and productivity improvements are possible.

Support for varying product sizes and 3D shapes

KEYENCE's 3D laser markers can accommodate for focal changes of up to 42mm (1.65"). This eliminates the need to manually refocus the marking head with lifting equipment or installing custom jigs for different targets. This greatly reduces installation costs and the time required for product changeovers.

Conventional method
Conventional methods required jigs, height adjustment equipment, etc.
Jigs, height adjustment equipment, etc. required
3D laser marker
Marking with a 3D laser marker at focal distances up to 42 mm (1.65")
Marking at focal distances up to 42 mm (1.65")

Recommended models for laser cutting, organized by material