Polycarbonate (PC) is a material that, due to its excellent physical and chemical properties, is in high global market demand. The advantage of this thermoplastic lies in its higher toughness, breaking strength and transparency as well as high heat resistance. These attributes make polycarbonate attractive in the automotive, medical and mechanical engineering industries. Additives can be used to further improve the properties of polycarbonate and allow its use in different environments.

Chemical Properties and Absorption Characteristics of PC

In general, CO2 lasers are particularly suitable for cutting plastics due to their long wavelength and the corresponding absorption curves of the plastics. Despite the high absorption of polycarbonate, when cutting it with a CO2 laser the cutting quality is low. Although it is easy and fast to cut, the resulting cutting edge often shows yellow to brown discolorations. Due to its optical properties PC is an excellent substitute for traditional material such as glass. But applications in headlamps and displays require a clean cutting edge since every discoloration can induce unwanted color effects in the material. Further, due to its high toughness and stability it is hard to cut using mechanical processes, therefore the aim is to find the optimal laser processing parameters to achieve the best possible cutting quality.
We want to help PC manufacturers and users, to better understand the CO2 laser cutting process of polycarbonate and how to use this for their advantage.