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Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

Greetings group,

I am new to the fabrication/manufacturing end of engineering, so I would like a little help to determine whether the quality of cut I am getting from a laser cutter is in line with the rest of the world.

I have recently begun some prototype testing for a product that involves cutting phenolic resins (from .015 to about .030, some FR4, and some paper-based).  These layers will then be laminated into an assembly that will be part of the product.

The parts are fairly small, and can be done on a desktop laser cutter/engraver, but I am getting a little bit of heat damage on the very edges of the cut pieces. I need to determine if this is the price to pay for using a laser, or maybe I neeed to direct the company doing the cutting to modify their cutting procedure a little.

The worst damage appears to be related to the paper based phenolics, and more specifically to the thinner products, however, I have not done enough testing to be absolutely sure if that is consistantly the case.

The damage is similar to a slight heat blistering that some plastics will do, and it appears to affect the lamination within the phenolic sheet.  

Is it possible to get a good, undamaged edge when cutting phenolics?  Are phenolic laminates compatible with a laser cutter?

I'm wondering if I need to try another laser cutter or possibly a different laser technology to get a better result.  It may simply be that I need the cutter to try a different pulse rate or feed rate.

Any suggestions you may have would be appreciated.



RE: Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

I believe that the edge damage is characteristic of a CO2 laser acting on these materials.
A different laser technology may work better- eximer?
Call a few laser manufacturers, check out the trade mags like Laser Focus, Industrial Laser (News?), etc.
There are also some very capable consultants out there.

Jay Maechtlen

RE: Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

What assist gas are you using?

RE: Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

He'll be able to reduce char by using Nitrogen or other non-reactive gas. I don't believe he'll totally eliminate it.
Actually, that's a good point- depending on what result he really needs, a CO2 laser may be "good enough"...
Or, it may not.

Jay Maechtlen

RE: Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

Thanks guys,

I don't know the gas they are using, so I'll find out.  If I can gete a cleaner cut, the CO2 laser will be sufficient for my purposes.


RE: Performance expectations from laser cutting phenolics

You may benefit from pulse cutting!!

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