Laser cutting is a high-tech manufacturing method that most business owners associate strictly with metal working. However, the lasers available today can cut cleanly through a variety of different materials without damaging them, including all types of glass. Glass also happens to be one of the most challenging manufacturing materials to cut because it's so prone to cracking, fracturing, or weakening due to vibration and heat. Exploring the distinct benefits offered by choosing laser cutting for your glass shaping needs will convince you to switch over to this modern technique.
Shallow Cutting and Engraving
Unlike most other cutting methods that work on glass, the lasers required for glass work are easily adjusted to create incomplete cuts. Why would you want an incomplete cut? Engraving and other decorative cutting and carving techniques are all based on partial cutting. It's much more efficient and affordable to have both the cutting and engraving done all at once and by the same service provider. Choosing laser cutting allows you to get a nearly finished product without having to move the materials around to different machines or locations and increase the risks of breakage.
When using a grinding wheel or water jet for cutting glass, tiny fractures form at the breaking point of the glass. These micro fractures weaken the structure of the glass and increase the chances of a product breaking along its cut edges. Mechanical or water jet cutting also leaves a relatively sharp edge that is usually ground down, especially in the manufacture of glass drinking glasses and mugs where a sharp edge could seriously hurt the user. Since the laser heats the glass as it cuts it, a rounded and smooth edge is created without the need for secondary grinding and finishing to smooth out those micro fractures.
Lower Dust Production
Since silica is the primary component in most glass formulas, the dust created by cutting and grinding glass can become a serious health hazard to the workers in your manufacturing facility. The heating and separation process created by cutting lasers produces very little dust and other debris that could make the work environment unsafe and difficult to clean. You may not need to worry much about dust production if you're having your glass products cut and finished by another company in a separate facility, but you'll still appreciate the fact that the finished products are cleaner and don't come coated in sharp dust that must be rinsed off.
Finishing steps like grinding and polishing the cut edges of a glass product are often the most time consuming parts of glass manufacturing. If you're interested in streamlining the speed of your production processes, you'll find it much easier to get your products shipped out on time or out on the shelves. Delays in manufacturing can make it hard to adjust products after a problem is discovered and restore your sales before too much time passes, so laser cutting is a good way to tighten up your turnaround times to avoid losses.
Since the laser cutting process is a hands-off type of manufacturing, there are fewer chances for damage to the glass due to sheer human error or an accident. Since no one has to hold the glass while it's being cut, the chance of injury is also greatly reduced. The software that controls the laser's performance allows you to check and double-check the cut before it begins without having to touch the glass or get near any active cutting tools. Some laser cutting systems even have a built-in preview system to model what the finished product will look like, which is especially important for engraving and etching.