Scratch Free Laser Cutting
Is it possible to produce scratch free laser cutting?
In theory laser because laser cutting is a non-contact method of metal cutting it should be easy to produce parts which are scratch free. The reality is slightly different though as we discuss below:
It’s possible to specify material from the steel stockholder which has a plastic coating on one or both sides. The laser then uses an evaporating cycle prior to cutting which removes the plastic from the cut lines. Although, this plastic does offer some protection there is always the risk that some scratches will already be on the material from the rolling process. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to see the scratches until the part has been cut and the plastic removed. In addition, most laser cutters can only process plastic on the top side of the material. This means the material is removed on the underside so again the risk of scratching from the laser bed is increased.
GF Laser, like lots of laser cutters, utilise a suction handling system which means that a sheet of material can be lifted onto the laser bed. This minimises any handling issues especially where operators move the sheet manually which then scratches the underside of the material. As before though any scratches in the material from the rolling process will still be present.
Specialist Packing Procedures
One of the best way to produce scratch free laser cutting is to use specialist packing and packing procedures. For example, GFL use customer supplied packaging for certain high end automotive parts and the Operators utilise care points to make sure that parts are stacked with protective layers to prevent part on part scratching.
All of the above methods can only really minimise scratching of material or parts, for a guaranteed scratch free finish then we recommend utilising a metal polishing operation. Although this isn’t something GF Laser undertakes in house we have numerous suppliers in the area that we can recommend. We’re happy to organise this service to provide customers with a fully finished product.
It’s always recommended to agree boundary samples with your laser cutter prior to producing parts. Scratches can be subjective and even factors such as different lighting can make a difference as to whether a scratch is visible or not. Boundary samples are a useful tool which show what scratches might be acceptable or if certain areas of a part are deemed scratch free but others are not. These can be used by operators and customers alike to make sure a defined process is followed.
Finally, you could also consider coating parts post laser cutting with a procedure such as Powder Coating. This gives a very hard wearing and aesthetically pleasing finish and represents very good value for money.
For more details on what scratch free laser cutting processes we can provide contact us today.