Application note – Cutting carbon fibre composite with the LXR® 120-1030
Carbon fibre composites are now commonplace in the automotive and aerospace industries. While these materials exhibit desirable mechanical properties, including a high strength-to-weight ratio, they are difficult to machine.
Mechanical processing can result in delamination and matrix damage, as well as considerable tool wear and breakage. On the other hand, their irregular thermal and optical properties present significant problems for laser machining. The thermal conductivity of the fibres is much higher than that of the epoxy matrix, while the matrix material is vaporised more readily. Laser processing often leaves the fibres exposed as a result (see image, right), compromising the strength of the material around the cut. There is some evidence that shortening the laser material interaction time can reduce this heat-affected zone (HAZ), thus improving the process quality.
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Exposed fibres, where the resin alongside the cut has been vaporised