Airbags may be flat woven, where the bag is made up of several fabric pieces stitched together or one piece woven (OPW), where the structure of the airbag is fully formed on the loom. Both types require trimming, for which a CO2 laser is the ideal tool. The laser process is efficient and reliable, minimising waste by cutting with consistently high quality. The non-contact nature of the process means that handling of the fabric is minimised and the silicone coating is therefore less likely to incur any damage which may compromise the integrity of the airbag.
CO2 lasers can also be used to score lines in the material of the car dashboard and door skins, selectively weakening the structure so that a flap breaks open to release the airbag in the event of a collision. This laser scoring is implemented on the reverse side of the interior panels, so there is no aesthetic impact visible to the occupants of the vehicle, and must be performed to extremely tight tolerances.
CO2 laser technology finds a host of innovative applications across the fashion industry.
For example, CO2 laser cutting machines can create designs on heat transfer films that are used to decorate T-shirts and other fabric garments. In this case the laser doesn’t cut the clothing. Instead, the laser engraves a type of laser-friendly transfer film, removing excess material and leaving only the required design intact. The design is then transferred to the garment using a heat transfer press. Fully engraving the film has the advantage that the transfer does not require “weeding” before use – this is the time-consuming process of removing small pieces of waste material from the design, which would be left by simply cutting the profile out. With an engraving process, all of the waste is removed by the laser, reducing the total process time significantly.
The automotive industry uses textiles in a variety of ways, from interior trim and upholstery to seatbelts and airbags. Laser cutting is now commonplace within the industry, and offers numerous advantages over traditional mechanical methods.
Laser cutting is flexible, fast and precise. Fabric waste can be trimmed from the edges of moulded interior pillars with ease, using robots to follow the contours of the 3-dimensional parts. Textiles for upholstery can be cut from sheets of fabric at high speed. In many cases the laser melts and seals the edge of the material, reducing the risk of fraying.
Cutting textiles for the fashion industry presents many challenges; our CO2 lasers offer solutions.
Lasers can be used to cut a wide variety of textiles and fabrics, including both natural and synthetic materials – leather, cotton, polyester, silk, lace, neoprene, felt, nylon, fleece… the list is endless! Complex shapes can be cut out with ease and precision, and the process is both repeatable and adaptable. Design changes are easy and quick to implement.
Cutting profiles can be complex and highly detailed, and quality is consistent. In many cases the laser seals the edges of the fabric to prevent fraying, allowing easier handling of the cut pieces and eliminating the need for further finishing.
Lasers are becoming increasingly commonplace in the denim industry, where they are used to apply patterns and effects to jeans and other clothing. Laser processing is a sustainable solution, reducing water usage and eliminating the need for the harsh chemicals associated with traditional processes. Productivity is dramatically increased, as laser finishing is much faster than conventional processes.
CO2 laser finishing systems transfer a greyscale design to the jeans by varying the intensity of the focused laser beam as it scans rapidly across the garment. The laser beam selectively removes pigment from the denim, creating shading without damaging the texture or compromising the strength of the fabric. The same laser can be used to introduce rips, abrasions and other effects, according to the latest fashion.
Both natural and synthetic leather materials can be processed at high speeds, and intricate designs can be created with ease. The laser produces a good finish, minimises waste and offers tremendous flexibility. Processes include cutting, marking and texturing.