Laser cutting wood

 

The thermal laser cutting process makes it possible to cut a wide variety of types of wood. However, laser sublimation cutting works differently than the cutting of metals. Any type of wood can be processed with laser, filigree and fine contours are possible without any problems. Laser cutting of wood is mainly used in arts and crafts, for architects' models or in toy manufacturing.

 

 

Advantages: Laser cutting of wood

  • Precise geometries can be cut
  • Clean results: no chip formation compared to the milling machine
  • Processing takes place contactless
  • Hardly any post-processing necessary
  • The laser beam is not worn out during wood processing
  • No tool wear compared to the milling machine
  • Easier programming and faster setup than with the milling machine

Wood: What is this actually?

Wood is an organically renewable raw material that is used as an energy source, but also as a building material. Wood has a very complex structure. To a large extent it consists of cellulose and lignin, this connection provides for appropriate stability, pressure resistance and thus the familiar wood structure. Especially in construction (building construction, furniture manufacturing), but also as a supplier of energy, the tree trunk is mostly used, branches and roots are of lesser importance here. Wood as a building material exists for more than 20,000 years.

What types of wood can be processed by laser?

With lasers, a wide variety of wood types can be processed filigree and fine contours can be cut. Any type of wood can be processed with laser. However, it depends on the specific properties of the wood and the selected settings how high the cutting speed is. The following woods are processed with laser cutting systems:

  • High-density wood fiberboard (HDF)
  • Medium-density wood fiberboard (MDF)
  • Precious wood: e.g. teak, mahogany, yew, walnut, cedar
  • Real wood: e.g. maple, bamboo, birch, beech, Douglas fir, oak, spruce, pine, cherry, walnut, cedar
    veneer wood, plywood or particle board
  • Cork

 

What should be considered for laser cutting of wood?

Due to the thermal cutting process, properties such as material moisture, density, oil and resin content influence the wood laser cutting process. Laser cutting of wood is performed within the subcategory of laser sublimation cutting. This refers to the cutting of materials that do not enter a molten state. Here, the process gas (e.g. nitrogen or air) is not used to intensify the cutting process as in laser cutting, but its function is to blow out the fumes and burn-off from the kerf. For during wood laser cutting, the material in the kerf vaporizes, or more precisely, it burns. Any burns that occur can be captured by regulating the gas. The resulting optical effect with darker edges is usually desired, especially in the field of decoration and gift items. Any type of wood can be cut by laser: but depending on the type of wood, density and resin content, the laser power, cutting gas and other parameters must be adjusted to obtain a precise and fast result. Due to the different absorption characteristics of the laser wavelengths now available, not every type of laser is equally suitable for cutting wood.

Where is laser cutting of wood used?

The processing of wood with laser technology is mainly used to make gifts and handicrafts. Laser engraving also plays a major role here, in order to individualize the workpieces with names or portraits. But laser cutting is also frequently used when precise and low-rework contour cutting is required – whether for toys, souvenirs, Christmas or Easter decorations, or models for architectural offices and urban planners.

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