Considerations When Laser Cutting Polycarbonate

The field of manufacturing has been revolutionised by laser cutting technology and there are so many things that were previously thought impossible being achieved by this technology. There are many materials that can be used with laser cutting machines and one of them is polycarbonate which will be discussed at length in the article below.

Polycarbonate is a material

That is used in many industries because of the optical properties it provides along with durability. It is a transparent thermoplastic material but there are some factors you need to consider when cutting it. You will be able to cut polycarbonate at Spectrum Laser Cutting Melbourne but you have to check the thickness of the sheets that are recommended for this. Generally, when the sheet is thick, you will need more power to cut it and there will be slower cutting speeds associated with it. However, you may not be able to work with a thinner polycarbonate as this has a possibility of warping or melting under high lase settings. You will have to reach out to the laser cutting service to get a better idea of what is possible and what is not. The power of the laser and its speed are instrumental in achieving precise cuts. Polycarbonate is a material that is sensitive to high heat so you need to select a service provider that is experienced in cutting this as it is very important to find a balance between power and speed in order to keep the material unchanged. Generally lower power settings and faster cutting speeds will be recommended as it will prevent heat from building up leading to warping or melting.

There has to be proper ventilation

Along with the presence of extraction systems as polycarbonate will emit fumes when it is cut by laser. These emissions can be quite harmful so there has to be a properly ventilated workspace to ensure safety of the operator. The operator should use the proper beam alignment and focus so that the polycarbonate can be cut evenly without any charring at the edges of the material. This requires a laser machine that is regularly maintained and calibrated so that it is easier to maintain focus. Surface damage can be reduced by using a backing material or even a masking tape as a sacrificial layer. This will help reduce the risk of the polycarbonate melting as the excess heat will be absorbed by the backing material instead.

There can be a small degree of charring

When laser cutting polycarbonate and the edges can be very sharp. The objective is to achieve a clean edge with smooth finish so it is important to use a lower power setting. Otherwise, there will have to be a process carried out after laser cutting to sand the polycarbonate edges or for flame polishing. You can choose which is best considering the needs of your project. The type of polycarbonate you are using also matters as they come in different formulations and grads. There are some that are better for laser cutting than others so you can ask the service provider for recommendations.