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Laser cutting composites compared to traditional techniques


Surface delamination

i.e. the separation of plies, especially where the cutter enters and exits the material

Internal delamination

i.e. the separation between plies due to improper machining and drilling

Fibre/resin pull out

i.e. tearing away of resin or fibres from the wall of the machined edge or drilled hole.

The advantage of laser cutting is that as a non-contact, thermal process, the problems associated with mechanical cutting listed above are much reduced. In addition, the laser can be focussed to a small spot, allowing intricate shapes to be cut. Inert gas (eg argon) is used to assist the removal of debris. Care must be taken to avoid thermal degradation at the cut edges, which can result in local delamination. This is controlled by careful setting of laser cutting and assist gas parameters.
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