Laser coding on eggshells with a pulsed-laser marking system

Rolls of selvedge denim

The use of laser CO2 in food production processes has become a well accepted trend. Laser is often used to replace labeling processes or the printing of expiry dates, identifying codes and other distinguishing marks on food products. Markings on cheese or fresh products are some examples of laser use we have already covered in previous articles.

Another process that can be successfully achieved by laser is the marking of chicken eggs.

The traditional method used for egg marking is ink printing.

Ink printing on eggshells

Because eggs are fresh products, it is fundamental that information such as laying or expiry date be clearly visible on each item. This data  helps the consumer to evaluate the freshness of the product, making egg consumption safer.

Ink marking can be inconvenient because:

  • the ink can contain harmful substances
  • the markings are not always readable
  • the ink needs to dry, slowing the production line
  • more resources are used

Laser marking makes it possible to overcome these obstacles. Let’s see how the process works.

A conveyor belt

A laser marking system is composed of three elements: a control software, a CO2 laser source and a galvanometric scanning head.

In this application of laser marking, the source is used in pulse mode. This mode makes it possible to reach high peaks of power for a very short amount of time, instantly removing a tiny portion of the surface area of a product.

The scanning head has a double function: it moves the laser beam over the surface on the X and Y axes and it keeps it focused on the right surface area.

The control software’s job is to coordinate the action of the laser source and the scanning head. It makes sure that the laser follows the pre-established path and that the power is regulated properly for the desired effect on the surface.

Egg processing

The advantages of a pulsed laser marking system are many:

  • the markings are permanent
  • potentially hazardous substances aren’t used
  • the process is notably faster than ink marking

It has been demonstrated that the markings are superficial and in no way damage the egg as only around a fourth of the eggshell’s thickness is marked.

This technique is perfect not only for alphanumeric codes, but also for logos, pictures and other types of graphic signs.

Thinking like a laser: when using laser technology is the best choice

Until recently and partly still, industrial processes were focused on mass production. This encouraged a tendency to standardize products and processes, to reduce the number of possible customizations and to maximize the number of pieces produced thus increasing the company’s profit.

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A CO2 laser marking application

A production paradigm of this kind could work as long as the relationship between producers and customers was controlled by one side. The market bought what the producer offered. Recent technological advances, combined with changes in the market and client requests, have brought about a paradigm shift.

Highly customized forms of production, which were previously economically unsustainable, are now possible thanks to the use of technology and digital manufacturing processes.

Laser is the cornerstone of this change and has revolutionized many sectors allowing the reduction of production costs, the speeding up of production and the possibility of creating customized products on a mass scale.

This last statement might seem like a paradox, but to fully understand its scope, one must change the traditional way of looking at industrial production processes.

Think like a laser

The acquisition of a laser system is not just the acquisition of a new machine. It also requires the adoption of a new way of thinking about production. It becomes necessary to know the advantages that laser offers, exploit its strengths and use it productively and economically.

Let’s go over laser technology’s strengths point by point: versatility, precision, cleanliness, speed and lack of contact.

Laser engraving of wood
Wood is among the materials that best absorb CO2 laser

Versatility

Laser is versatile on many levels. First, CO2 laser can work with a wide range of materials. This type of laser gives its best results on materials of organic derivation (wood, paper, cardboard, leather, fabrics, acrylic plastic materials, etc.) on which it can effectively perform any type of processing. On the other hand, CO2 laser has a more restricted range of applications on metallic materials, particularly in the field of laser engraving and marking or for surface treatments such as paint removal.

Precision

The very nature of the laser beam makes it a highly controllable tool. Its parameters and features are easily managed with a software, and they can be set according to the desired result. This feature of laser has paved the way for precision machining and made it possible to create perfectly calibrated pieces based on the functions for which they were created.

Laser creating identification numbers
Laser are the perfect choice when precision is key

An example of this type of application is the perforation and cutting for food industry. For this particular type of packaging, holes are made on the surface of the plastic film to improve the breathability of fruit and vegetables. The perforations vary depending on the product’s characteristics.

This is just one example of the applications made possible by laser technology. Other examples include the perforation of leather for car interiors, the manufacture of pipes for irrigation, the microperforation of instruments for the health sector.

Cleanliness

Of all the machining processes based on the removal of material from a workpiece, laser is the one that produces the least residue because the material is removed by sublimation. Even the processing waste (i.e. the parts of unused raw material) can be reduced thanks to nesting, which is managed by a special software.

Computer control makes it possible to make the most of the work surface. In most cases, one can obtain more finished pieces from the same material using this technology than with traditional methods. In this respect, laser represents a leap in quality if compared to other processes based on chip removal, or on the use of various types of abrasive fluids.

Laser creating cuts on plywood
Laser can perform several processes that can’t be easily performed with traditional mechanical tools

Moreover, the need to remove production waste is reduced. The laser beam concentrates high energy on the processed material which, undergoes chemical-physical alterations that cause its instant removal.

This feature makes laser ideal for all the industrial sectors where the absence of processing waste and a clean production environment are key. Consider, for example, the field of electronics, the medical device sector, and the packaging sectors.

The absence of waste and other residue also has an economic advantage: in fact, the cuts made with the CO2 laser do not need further finishing. They are performed without leaving the slightest trace of material behind. Each piece therefore takes less time and money to produce.

Speed

In industrial processes, the speed at which work is performed is a fundamental requirement.

Laser is capable of performing work at a very high speed. This feature is particularly evident in the execution of complex design operations.

Processes such as the engraving of barcodes and identification codes, the decoration of fabrics, or the cutting of complex shapes are carried out practically instantaneously by a laser beam.

But even slow and expensive processes such as fabric finishing can be effectively replaced by a CO2 laser. A previous article explored the finishing of denim fabric through laser scanning processes. In the past, the discoloration of jeans was performed using very slow chemical processes, which were expensive in terms of resources and extremely polluting.

The integration of laser in the production chain of these products has made it possible to significantly speed up the production process, achieve considerable savings in terms of resources, as well as reduce the ecological footprint.

Lack of contact

Laser is a non-contact process, a feature that comes with many benefits.

Firstly, tool wear is limited. As a result, maintenance costs are reduced. The laser beam, (the instrument that physically performs the processing), emits a coherent and focused beam of light. Since there is no mechanical contact between the tool and the material, it wears less.

Of course, even a laser source needs routine maintenance. The laser-producing medium, CO2 gas, is consumed over time. The self-refilling technology developed by El.En. for its laser sources has made it possible to greatly reduce maintenance. The gas can be refilled in-house which reduces the machine’s periods of inactivity.

The lack of mechanical limitations on laser movement, the small diameter of its radius and the possibilities offered by numerical control combine to give very high tolerances during production. Engraving or cutting complex shapes become extremely simple. This is a feature that makes laser an ideal choice for all the sectors that use design to get a competitive edge, such as fashion.

Cutting complex shapes out of a board of wood with laser
With laser is easy to cut out complex shapes

It is clear that the introduction of laser in the production process is advantageous for all the applications where personalization, speed and production flexibility are decisive.

Companies that deal with productions with a high level of customization, which need precise processing, which must respond to a market with multiple demands, can compete in a cost-effective way with other companies that make economies of scale their strength.

Whatever your application is, please, contact us using our form. We will be glad to support you with our experience!

Uses of the CO2 laser in the food packaging industry

The food industry has long been experimenting the use of thermoplastics for food packaging. Materials such as polyester are easy  to  manipulate and inexpensive. Plus, the fact that they are sterile, strong and waterproof make them ideal for the packaging of fresh or ready to use food products.

In this article we will discuss how to seal plastic containers using a CO2 laser scanning process. This technique can substitute the traditional mechanical application based of heat and pressure. It becomes possible to notably speed up the sealing process, increase its flexibility and reduce the consumption of resources.

Ready to consume plastic containers for foodReady to consume plastic containers for food

The packaging of food products

Traditionally, food containers are sealed by applying heat and pressure to a thermoplastic sheet. The machines used for this process are very bulky and require strong fixturing of the containers to be processed. They have to be kept perfectly still while the sealing head applies pressure and heat to the plastic film in order to seal the container.

This process has some limitations. Since it is above all a mechanical process, the parts that come into contact with each other get worn with time and have to be replaced. The tools have to be tailor-made to adapt to each type of container which makes the production line hard to change quickly. These types of machines require constant cleaning and maintenance. Finally, one needs to consider the cost of stocking and upkeeping the various pieces of machinery.

Nowadays, this type of production is hard to sustain. Flexibility and speed of execution are determining factors that will allow a company to promptly take on the changing requests of the market. The CO2 laser sealing makes it possible to overcome the previously mentioned inconveniences as well as seal plastic containers in a fast and flexible way.

Fruit and vegetables containers

How does laser sealing of food containers work?

In a laser sealing process, productivity is key. A high powered laser source that works in tandem with a highly performing laser scanning head allows for high production rates. The laser source produces the beam that generates the necessary energy and heat to seal the thermoplastic sheet to the container. The higher the power of the laser source, the shorter the production cycle.

A scanning head directs the CO2 laser exactly where needed. A highly performing laser scanning head has galvanometer mirrors with very high angular velocity, that ensure an instant response and therefore a fast production process.

Thanks to this system, the laser doesn’t only do welding: the same source can be used to finish off the product, for example, cutting off the parts that exceed the size of the container.

Plastic food containers for read to use vegetables

This process is very versatile and suitable for every type of container. It is particularly useful for multi-compartment containers. As opposed to mechanical processes, laser welding is contactless and therefore a completely sterile process which makes it perfect for the food industry. There are no costs related to maintenance or the deterioration of tools and it isn’t necessary to change any machinery pieces for different production runs. The process is fully computerised and the change of production is practically instantaneous.

In conclusion, the use of the CO2 laser for the sealing of food containers is a fast and flexible process. It makes it possible to take full advantage of the company’s resources.

Laser cutting for fashion and textiles

The fashion industry is always looking for new ideas and new technology to make them possible. Laser has become an incredible tool for stylist and designers, enabling them bring even the most technically difficult ideas to light. The pioneer designers who made the first use of laser, often went on to become famous in the fashion world.

Rolls of fabric, ready to be laser cut

It is a known fact that originality takes the win in fashion.

Laser technology has changed the way fashion is designed and produced. Now, like most other sectors, textile manufacturers can use the techniques of digital production: fast prototyping, small scale productions, and the possibility to produce on demand.

When some processes could only be made by an experienced artisan, with laser cutting, they can now be made almost instantaneously and in a perfectly uniform and precise way.

Laser cutting for textiles in fashion

There are many materials used in fashion, most of which can be cut by laser. Though fabric is still the most popular material, acrylic polymers (used for fashion accessories and shoe making) is also commonly used by the fashion industry.

Here is a list of the most common materials that can be cut by laser:

  • fabric of natural or plant origin
  • wool
  • cotton
  • linen
  • synthetic fabric
  • polyester
  • nylon
  • elastan
  • fabric of animal origin
  • leather
  • silk
  • acrylic plastic
  • PMMA
  • wood
  • lace and crochet
  • thin metal decorations

The process

The laser beam is concentrated on a specific area of the material until it provoques immediate evaporation. This process, called sublimation, is instantaneous and produces precise and clean cuts.

Other effects can be obtained by varying the laser’s speed. Indeed, laser cutting isn’t the only possible operation. By using the same laser, one can obtain marking effects for decoration.

With laser cutting many special effects are achievable

The process is contactless so there is no risk of leaving unwanted traces on the material. This is particularly advantageous for delicate materials such as silk. This characteristic makes it possible to decrease or even eliminate wear and accidental damage during production, guaranteeing a better end product for sales.

The right technology to use

CO2 laser is by far the most popular in the fashion industry. It is powerful and versatile, and its wavelength is compatible with all the materials used in this field.

A laser system optimized for fabric cutting includes a CO2 laser source and a scanning head. Both are controlled by a software that manages their parameters according to the intended result.

The laser source’s job is to generate a laser beam. The types of laser power available range from low power CO2 lasers like El.En.’s RF88, to high power ones like El.En.’s Blade RF888. The choice of laser power will depend on what kind of production system the CO2 laser is inserted in: the higher the power, the faster the production will be.

Laser cutting is a very powerful tool in the hand of a designer

The scanning head’s job is to concentrate the laser on the surface and move it along the desired path.

The software is the ‘brain’ of the system: it translates the information contained in vector file produced by the designer in impulses for the scanning head and laser source.

The main advantage of such a system is that it can be completely automated: it can be integrated in pre-existing productive systems or take part in a system made especially for laser cutting.

Do you want a tailor-made application?

As previously explained, laser technology has a wide range of applications. The best way to know which application is right for you, and find the ideal configuration, is to talk to an expert. Send us an email to explain your requirements and we will find the best solution for you.

CO2 laser glass marking – CO2 laser and glass

Glass is one of the many materials that can undergo CO2 laser treatments. Laser is most often used for markings or cuts. In this article, we will explore how compatible glass is with laser technology and its possible applications.

A glass with laser marking

Glass composition

Glass is a material of natural origin, composed mostly of silica (SiO2). The material is heated until it reaches melting point and then left to resolidify. This process yields glass, a transparent material with a great resistance to corrosion.

Glass does have some defects, though. It is fragile and has a low resistance to thermal expansion.

Glass object with markings on it

Types of laserable glass

It is important to take its negative characteristics into consideration before applying laser technology to glass. Its type of composition and production will be deciding factors when choosing where to use laser.

Composition

Most of the glass available on the market isn’t composed solely of silica. Depending on the glass’ final use, other components are added to the silica to modify the material’s properties.

Adding substances to the material does alter its ‘laserability’. For example, laser technology cannot be used when metal has been added to glass. Crystal is part of this category of glass. In order to increase transparency, lead is added to the composition, thus making it incompatible with laser.

A laser decorated glass with opaque finishing

Production

Most glass is produced industrially. Nonetheless, one can still find productions of artisanal glass objects; obviously at a higher price.

The first type of glass has a more uniform structure which makes it a better candidate for laser applications. Artisanal glass, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to use with laser. The glass can contain structural and compositional inconsistencies like microfractures. This glass could easily crack when exposed to the heat generated by the laser.

How laser technology works on glass

Though laser applications usually work by sublimation for most materials, in the case of glass, the process is different. As previously mentioned, glass has a low tolerance for thermal expansion. Laser technology takes advantage of this characteristic by generating fractures at a microscopic level. These result in markings or cuts.

How does this process take place? Glass contains trapped microbubbles of air. When the laser touches upon the surface, it heats it and causes the dilatation of these bubbles. Due to the material’s lack of flexibility, this dilatation generates the aforementioned micro-fractures.

Various decorated glasses for champagne

CO2 laser markings on glass

Laser marking is the most common technique applied to glass. It is usually used for decorations or the marking of codes and other information.

Productions using laser have many advantages compared to traditional methods. They are cleaner, cheaper and offer a much wider range of applications.

Markings can be done in different ways, depending on the type of glass.

Soda glass

Soda glass is the most common form of glass. It is used for windows, bottles, glass flatware and other commonly used glass objects. It works well with laser technology.

On this type of glass, markings are made by generating thousands of microfractures on the glass’s surface. Thermal shock causes the dilatation of the glass, which, due to its rigid nature, fractures at a microscopic level. The final result is an opaque marking with a satin finish. It looks very similar to results obtained using more traditional methods, but at a much lower price.

Examples of this process can be found in the decoration field (decoration of glasses and flatware, windows and cabinets), in the car industry (identifying codes markings on car windshields and windows), in the production of glassware for laboratories (measurement markings).

Quartz glass

Quartz glass is obtained from the fusion of quartz rather than silica. It has a high resistance to heat, great optic transmissibility and a high resistance to corrosion.

CO2 laser markings on quartz glass are done through superficial fusion. The material’s fusion modifies the reticular structure of glass making light refract differently on the markings compared to the rest of the surface.

Boro-silicate glass

Boro-silicate glass, known commercially as Pyrex, is obtained by adding boron and other composites to the silica. The chemical reaction produces a glass that is highly resistant to thermal expansion. It is usually used for the production of flatware and oven trays.

Boro-silicate can undergo CO2 laser markings.

Contact us for more information on laser marking of glass.

CO2 Laser for security paper

The packaging and paper goods industry are the sectors which have most benefited from the introduction of the CO2 laser. This tool has triggered innovations in applications, production methods and in products.

Security paper | CO2 laser and security paper
Most of the laser’s benefits are due to the fact that it is a contactless tool. As opposed to traditional methods, lasers can follow a complex cutting path and allows for a much more flexible production. It can be used for complex applications and guarantees extreme precision at a high production speed.

Laser applications for security paper

Its precision and flexibility make laser technology perfectly suited for government issued paper and security paper.

Government issued paper and security paper have a number of inbuilt tricks to avoid being counterfeited and guarantee their originality. Security paper is usually employed by state or government agencies in the production of goods such as:

  • official documents
  • I.Ds
  • bank documents
  • checks
  • banknotes
  • shares
  • certificates
  • visas
  • government stamps
  • passports

In order to avoid tampering or counterfeiting there are many possible devices which include:

  • watermarks
  • security thread
  • surface treatments
  • holograms
  • security windows

Each company has its own particular applications and patents. The producers of security paper constantly strive to make their product more innovative and tamper proof.

Laser technology makes some necessary applications to prevent counterfeiting possible. The fact that lasers can perform cuts at a controlled depth and follow complex processing paths make them ideal tools for this sector.

Co2 laser and security paper

Kiss cutting, laser marking, perforation and laser etching are some of the possible applications. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.

Laser kiss cutting

This application is often used in the production of stickers. Kiss cutting consists of a very light cut on a piece of paper. Unlike normal laser cutting, the cut doesn’t go through the paper. It makes it possible to separate the sticker from the matrix, allowing the user to remove only the sticker. It is perfect for the production of government issued paper such as revenue stamps or postage stamps.

Laser scoring

Laser scoring is used to create folding lines on a piece of paper. The process is very similar to laser kiss cutting. Laser technology offers great control over all parameters. This makes it easy to decide the depth of the incision. The scoring, for instance, can be used to prevent the reuse of stickers or stamps. As soon as they are unstuck, they become irreversibly destroyed.

Laser drilling

Laser drilling is used to make little holes on a material. These perforations can have varying diameters and even reach microscopic levels. The drilling of indelible alphanumeric codes is one of its possible applications. The code becomes an intrinsic part of the document. Passports, for example, have serial codes inserted inside them.

Laser engraving

In laser engraving (a subset of laser marking applications), the beam is used to remove a superficial layer of material. This layer can have different depths and configurations. The engraved shapes can vary greatly from logos to alphanumeric codes, from symbols to images and all are indelible. Laser engraving can be performed on paper but also on other materials such as plastic. Plastic I.D cards are an example of this.

Laser cutting polyester fabric

Polyester is the most common synthetic fibre used in the textile industry. Whether it be fashion, design, furniture making or decorations, there is no field in which polyester hasn’t found some application. Just open your closet and have a peak at the composition of your clothes. You will find that most are fully or in part made of polyester.

Label of polyester garment

The success of polyester is due to both its properties and low cost. Objects made in polyester are easy to clean, more resistant and need less upkeep. Since polyester isn’t made of natural fibres, the cost of farming the original plants doesn’t factor in. The fact that polyester can easily be treated with laser is yet another advantage.

Polyester absorbs the CO2 laser wavelength very well which makes any type of process possible. Finishing processes can be optimised, therefore reducing production costs.

This article explores the main characteristics and advantages of laser cutting of polyester fabric.

Polyester and its properties

Many thermoplastic polymers are included under the name polyester. The one most frequently used to produce clothes is made from polyethylene terephthalate. The fibres production process starts from the fusion of polyester pellets. The next step is the extrusion of the material. In other words the melted polyester is passed through a hole to create a continuous filament. This filament is then rolled around a spool of the desired length. This method allows for filaments of any shape and diameter. They in turn constitute the fibre from which fabric is made.

Polyester yarn on reel

Polyester fabric is long lasting, resistant, cheap, easy to clean, easy to dry and waterproof. These characteristics make it perfect for the production of all kinds of objects: clothing, footwear, interior design, car upholstery, camping equipment, etc… The impermeability of polyester can also be a disadvantage. It retains humidity and doesn’t have good breathability.

Laser applications on polyester

The characteristics of polyester fabric can be greatly improved by laser processing. As is the case for other thermoplastics, this synthetic fabric undergoes well both laser cuts and perforations.

Polyester, just like other synthetic plastics, absorbs the radiation of the laser beam very well. Out of all the thermoplastics, it’s the one that gives best results for both processing and lack of waste.

Laser cut on polyester fabric

Laser cutting of polyester offers many advantages over traditional cutting techniques. The cutting process works this way: the laser beam’s energy is concentrated on the fabric and heats the polyester fabric until it melts, creating a cut. The cut obtained is already sealed and therefore avoids the problem of fraying edges.

Waterproof blue polyester fabric

Other advantages are:

  • No production of waste
  • Extreme precision
  • Very clean process

The right laser sources to use

In order to get the best results, the wavelengths should be between 9.3 and 10.6 micrometers. Both types of wavelengths are in the infrared region, which is the typical region of the carbon dioxide laser. The choice of the laser source power will depend on the speed of production one wants to obtain. The higher the power of the laser source, the faster the production. In El.En’s catalogue, two types of laser sources are right for the laser cutting of polyester:

Blade RF 177G

A 150 W RF CO2 laser source, specially conceived for applications on thermoplastics. It’s 150 W power is perfect for most applications that include plastic materials.

Blade RF self-refilling

A multipurpose RF CO2 laser source that uses the self-refilling technology, developed by El.En. This laser source is available in different power options, and can reach up to 1200 W.

How accurate is CO2 laser cutting?

The answer is a lot! The ability to make cuts with very close tolerances, down to a fraction of a millimeter, is one of the main advantages of laser cutting. In fact, laser is not subjected to the mechanical limits of traditional cutting tools.How accurate is CO2 Laser?null

Laser cutting of fabric | How accurate is CO2 laser

The characteristics of the material impose intrinsic limitations to cutting mechanisms such as blades and hollow cutters. A blade, for example, must respect certain minimum dimensions to work properly. These dimensions mean that the blade cannot perform certain types of cuts such as very narrow ones.

Laser, on the other hand, does not have any of these drawbacks as it is composed of a polarized light beam focused on a very tiny spot. A CO2 laser scanning head, such as Gioscan, can focus a beam with a diameter ranging between 140 and 450 micrometers on a surface. Just to put things into perspective, a human hair is about 70 micrometers!

Laser cut on paper | How accurate is CO2 laser

The fact that in laser technology there is no contact with the surface and the working dimensions are so small, makes it very easy to achieve extremely complex cutting geometries.

Also, laser cutting works well with all types of materials, from rigid ones, such as multilayer wood, to fragile ones, such as plastic film. They can all be processed easily and accurately, minimizing the risk of breakage and waste of material.

Laser cutting of fabric | How accurate is CO2 laser

In addition to the previously mentioned advantages, laser also offers extreme controllability of parameters and a high speed of execution. All these elements combine to make CO2 laser an incredibly powerful working tool. Flexibility, speed and accuracy open up infinite possibilities, especially for sectors such as packaging and fashion, which rely on creativity. Contact us if you wish to know more!

What is CO2 laser used for?

CO2 laser is one of the technologies that boasts the largest variety of uses. The areas of application range from the medical sector to the restoration of monuments. Whether it is applied to skin resurfacing or eliminating writing from ancient walls, CO2 laser is an incredibly efficient and cost effective tool.

CO2 laser for the manufacturing of signs and displays

But it is in the industrial sector that CO2 laser truly shines. The high spectrum purity, high stability, energy efficiency, the possibility of multiple power options, ranging from a few to a thousands watts, are all characteristics that have determined its success in the processing of materials and made it reach high levels of quality.

The packaging industry

CO2 laser is now an indispensable production tool for the packaging industry. The materials used (plastics, cardboard, wood and derivatives) and the characteristics of this sector’s typical processes (research of personalization, continuous innovation) are extremely compatible with the use of CO2 laser, which widens exponentially its possible applications.

An example is the production of fresh produce bags using laser microperforation. The laser microperforation makes it possible to optimize the exchange of gas between the inside of the bag and the surrounding environment, which, in turn, makes it possible to extend the product’s shelf life.

Laser is used for paper processing in the packaging industry

One of the latest applications of CO2 laser is the so-called natural branding. This recently developed application consists of marking the label directly on fresh produce’s surface. Information such as logos, tracking information and production batch can be directly visible on the products.

This information is traditionally printed on labels, which are then pasted onto the product. Laser labeling of fresh produce allows to avoid this step, thus eliminating the need for glue and other chemicals. This application is very effective and doesn’t damage the quality or durability of the product in any way.

Laser technology can also greatly enhance more traditional processes.

One example is the laser welding of plastic bags. This type of flexible packaging is increasingly used to save on space and create packaging adapted to different types of products. Laser welding can also be used for flexible packaging. This process uses laser energy to heat the material and thus seal the bag.

The second application is laser engraving of flexible bags. This application uses the extreme controllability of laser technology to create depth-controlled incisions on the plastic material. With this technique, it is possible to create easy-to-open packaging or innovative packaging for ready-to-use products.

The fashion and interior decoration industry

Carbon dioxide laser is used in the field of fashion and interior design. CO2 laser can become a powerful creative tool in the hands of architects and designers. It is also an environmentally sustainable tool which significantly reduces the ecological impact of the textile industry.

Laser marking, microperforation and cutting are the main operations used in this field.

Laser marking is mainly used to engrave decorative patterns on fabrics and leather. The great advantages of CO2 laser are high manufacturing speeds, precision, elevated repeatability of impression and the possibility to engrave any type of geometric pattern or design.

Laser drilling of leather finds many applications

Laser marking also finds innovative applications in the field of textiles. One example is the use of laser marking of denim fabric. It is now possible to laser wash jeans. This method significantly reduces the consumption of chemicals and water.

The laser decoration of ceramic tiles is another CO2 laser applications for the interior design world.

Again, the main advantage of this laser is the almost infinite range of motifs that can be transferred onto the tile’s surface (from simple geometric motifs to real black and white photographs).

The food industry

Industries use laser to engrave label on fresh fruit and vegetables

The food industry recently discovered how useful the carbon dioxide laser can be. In these applications, laser is used to carry out work directly on the product’s surface, thus replacing the use of mechanical devices. Some examples of these CO2 applications are fruit and vegetable laser peeling, laser marking of codes on eggshells, laser engraving of cheeses and cured meats.

Digital converting

Laser technology fits perfectly into a digital manufacturing process. Indeed, the CO2 laser’s characteristics are best appreciated when it is inserted in highly automated processes.

CO2 laser can cut intricate shapes out of a paper box

An example of a successful application is paper processing. Thanks to laser technology, it is possible to create integrated systems capable of printing, punching and cutting paper into a desired size. All kinds of details and customizations can also be added with laser which would be impossible to do when relying on the mechanical methods traditionally used in this sector.

Laser is also ideal for the production of security paper. Codes, perforations, cuts and other identification marks can be added quickly and easily.

Tool industry

Laser heat treating of metal strenthen the surface of parts subject to wear

The production of tools and tooling in general can greatly benefit from the use of laser. In the case of laser surface hardening treatments, the metal surface is exposed to the effects of the laser beam, causing an internal transformation of its molecular structure which increases the wear resistance of the tool.

Panel industry

Extreme controllability is one of the strengths of laser processing. For the signage industry this aspect translates into a huge advantage. The CO2 laser makes it possible to engrave writings, logos or other information with extreme precision and high definition on the most commonly used materials for panels and signs such as plexiglass, steel or aluminum. Laser technology also makes customizations easy.

Display industry

Acrylic laser cutting is one of the areas in which CO2 laser is unbeatable. The paneling industry has benefited greatly from the use of CO2 laser. Laser is in fact indispensable in the manufacture of LGP Backlight panels.

These are PMMA panels which are perforated at regular intervals using laser. The panel, thus prepared, is then illuminated by LEDs which, suitably positioned, create a uniformly illuminated surface. The main advantage of these displays is that it is possible to create large backlit panels with very low energy consumption.

Laser technology is indispensable to this type of manufacturing because holes can be drilled with a precision and regularity that would be extremely difficult and expensive to obtain using traditional production methods.

Automotive industry

CO2 laser is perfect for cutting plastics in the automotive sector

Some of the most common CO2 applications in the automotive sector are decorations of plastics, surface hardening of metals, microperforation of leather for interiors, decoration of upholstery, welding, engraving of codes for the identification and traceability of parts, etc.

In fact, this industrial sector was one of the first to introduce the use of laser in its manufacturing processes. It is therefore no surprise that the CO2 laser is so widely used.

One laser, multiple uses

Ultimately, CO2 laser has an almost infinite range of uses. Its wavelength makes it suitable for the processing of most materials. Contact us for more information: there might a laser solution to your problem.

Laser cutting polyethylene foam

Thermoplastics are polymeric materials with incredible properties. Their name derives from their main property: becoming viscous when heated and solidifying once cooled.

These characteristics makes it possible to laminate and easily shape these materials. Industrial applications are endless: from the packaging to medical devices sector, without forgetting the electronics, automotive and food industries. There is no sector in which thermoplastic doesn’t have a key role.
Laser cutting polyethylene foam

On this blog we have already seen how thermoplastics work well with laser technology. Microperforations, cutting, kiss-cutting are but a few examples of how well thermoplastics absorb the CO2 laser wavelength and offer great flexibility and high quality results.

Now, thermoplastic polymers can also be used in a foamy state. Polymeric foams, or expanded polymer, are obtained by treating the polymer chemically or physically until the right shape is obtained. Expanded polystyrene, expanded polyurethane and expanded polyethylene all belong to this category of materials.

Expanded polyethylene (aka polyethylene foam) is one of the most popular foams used in the industrial sector, due to its lightness, insulating properties and resistance. This foam is ideal for laser cutting.

Laser cutting polyethylene foam

In order to cut polyethylene foam, a CO2 laser precisely and cleanly outlines the wanted shape in the polymer foam. This process is easily controlled digitally. The advantage of using laser technology is that the pieces are cut perfectly, down to the last millimeter and in a well defined shape. It is therefore ideal for highly detailed work.

An example of what co2 laser can do is tool shadowing. Basically it means cutting a layer of foam with cut outs of different sizes for each tool in your tool box. The tool will be perfectly kept still and safe inside the toolbox.

Laser cutting polyethylene foam

Making this application using only mechanically tools is very difficult if not impossible, because the expanded polyethylene sheet would have to be pinned down in order to cut out the shapes without ruining the material. This method works only if the shapes have straight lines. As soon as the lines are curvier or more detailed, it becomes difficult to trace the objects outline perfectly.

Laser technology makes it easy to cut polyethylene foam in the right size and shape. All you need to do is create a CAD file with the shapes to cut out. The file is then transferred to the software making it possible for even the most complicated of shapes to be created.