Types of Foam
Laser Cutting of Foam
Polymer based foam can be cut most effectively using a CO2 laser. The laser beam heats the material directly in its path, causing it to vaporize. If the laser power is sufficiently high, the laser beam will cut completely through the material. Polymers vaporize quickly when cut with a laser beam, resulting in smooth edges with minimal heat affected zone. For metal based foams, a Fiber laser is most effective. The Fiber laser can cut through thin sheets of foam (up to 1/8” or 3 mm). Ceramic based foam is not usually cut with a laser because it is very brittle and can crack.
Laser Engraving of Foam
The power of the laser beam can be limited so that it removes material (engraves) to a specified depth. A CO2 laser is best for laser engraving polymer foams, while a Fiber laser is best for metal foams. The laser engraving process can be used to create patterns and designs in the foam surface. Laser engraving can also be used to convey information.
Laser Marking of Foam
Metal and ceramic foams can be laser marked using a Fiber laser. The energy of the Fiber laser beam is absorbed by the surface of the material, causing it to heat up and change color or hue. This change in appearance creates a visible mark without removing material. Laser marking can be used to create designs or to convey information.
The laser cutting, engraving, and marking processes described above can be combined without having to move or re-fixture the foam.