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Laser cutting for CFRP components

Cutting fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) with the laser

High strength with a simultaneously low weight – this is what makes fiber-reinforced plastics unique, especially compared to high-tensile steels or aluminum. Whether with carbon, glass or aramid fibers – fiber-reinforced plastics are the ideal raw material for industries where a great deal of lightweight design is implemented (e.g. aviation and aerospace or the automotive and wind power industries). However processing fiber-reinforced materials is often challenging, as they are above all unruly and delicate. This means they pose many challenges for all mechanical cutting processes. The laser, on the other hand, offers great potential for efficient processing, as it works without making contact, and is entirely wear-free. This means it cuts even thin FRP parts precisely – without putting strain on the material mechanically or through auxiliary agents.

Fast and affordable

Compared to alternative processes, the non-contact laser is entirely wear-free. A tool change is no longer required when changing the material.

Precisely adjustable

The laser allows for the resin layer to be ablated selectively. The exact energy dosage allows for even the most intricate FPR parts to be processed.

High cut quality

When cutting FPR parts, manufacturers achieve a consistently high level of quality and reproducible results.

Various potential uses

Not only can lasers easily cut fiber-reinforced plastics, they can also mark and perforate them.

What advantages does cutting fiber-reinforced plastics with a laser have, compared to alternative methods?

Water jet cutting vs. laser cutting

Cutting fiber-reinforced plastics with a water jet often results in the coating coming off, meaning that fibers and synthetic resin separate. Additionally, the strong forces which are exerted on the workpiece impair the cut quality. The result: fibers stand out. The laser, on the other hand, cuts cleanly and precisely, in a non-contact manner. The coating is not damaged in the process, meaning the fibers and synthetic resin do not separate. 

Milling vs. laser cutting

Even with milling, the transfer of force causes negative consequences such as breakage and distortion. Additionally, this process often results in fiber pull-out (fraying). Machining operations are also connected with higher costs. This is because milling tools wear very quickly as a result of the hard fibers, which means they need to be replaced multiple times per shift. Likewise when material thickness and quality change, a tool change is often required, unlike with a laser. The laser also impresses with noticeably lower process times.

Cutting fiber-reinforced plastics

Watch the video to see how the TruLaser Cell 7040 cuts even the largest carbon fiber reinforced plastic parts reliably.

Manufacturing complex, three-dimensional carbon fiber reinforced plastic components

In this video you will see how the laser's precision has a positive effect when cutting preformed materials.

The versatile applications of laser cutting fiber-reinforced plastics

Laser-cut CFRP component
Woven parts

The laser can also be used to achieve smooth cuts on woven parts made of fiber-reinforced materials, which then no longer require post-processing. This is how 3D laser cutting machines produce final contours on high-tensile components which are produced via hot forming.

Laser-cut CFRP rim
Lightweight rims

Rims made of carbon can be processed precisely using the laser, in small as well as large series.

Laser-cut component made of fiber-reinforced composite (CFRP)
Cutting carbon fiber reinforced plastic with the laser

Carbon fiber reinforced plastic or composite materials made of aluminum are being used in automotive body components, such as engine hoods, in more and more car series. In this regard, the laser ensures a consistently high level of quality and reproducible results with comparably low costs.

Cutting FRP with the laser - example of an A-pillar
Cutting modern hybrid materials

The laser is also used in the manufacture of new and high-tensile hybrid compounds made of fiber-reinforced materials or plastics and steel. These provide an additional weight reduction with the same or better structural integrity. For downstream joining or reforming operations, the laser can also be used for local softening of press-hardened structural parts of the automobile body. The laser can also be used to easily attach additional sheets of metal for reinforcement of the structure by means of an overlap seam.

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