CO2 and Nd:YAG lasers open up a range of innovative possibilities for cutting, joining and marking of glass, avoiding many of the cracking and breakage problems associated with traditional methods.
Flexible Engraving or Ablation/Fusing of Colored Additives
Engraving with CO2 lasers is the prevalent method for glass marking. Compared to mechanical engraving, or sand blasting for etching, the lasers is considerably more flexible and faster.
Third harmonic YAG lasers operating in the UV produce even finer marks of excellent quality.
3D images can also be produced within glass blocks through small dotted micro laceration.
A specialized foil has been developed for the marking of glass surfaces in various colors through fusing the foil with the surface. Selective ablation of colored coatings or fusing of vitreous enamel is possible with the laser marker as well.
Lasers are particularly well suited for the cutting of hollow glass, such as tubing for the pharmaceutical and illuminating industries, or mass-produced homewares such as wine glasses. If the glass is spun beneath the beam then a clean, splinter free cut or trim results.
Quick and Sterile
Laser welding of glass requires low thermal conductivity of the material which creates high temperature gradients when heated up locally and hence may involve a breakage. After pre-heating the material the laser process can be optimized in order to control the risk of breakage. Using a defocused laser beam reduces the temperature gradient within the welding zone. Scanner heads or rotary axes for cylindrical workpieces allow fast multiple passes over the entire weld contour ensuring a consistent temperature level throughout the complete welding seam. For laser welding of glass, CO2, Nd:YAG or diode lasers are the lasers of first choice. Compared to other joining techniques it benefits essentially from the sterile surface quality.
Glass bonding by using diode lasers to melt and fuse frit is also a viable technique for certain applications.
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