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I have a few materials that I would like to get cut (in precise shapes that I cant do on a saw), these are Quartz glass (1mm thick) alumina wafer (1mm thick) (AL2O3) copper coated alumina (2mm thick)

I was wondering if it was safe to attempt to cut these in a 150W CO2 laser, or if I am risking damaging myself or the laser.

edit: I should have specified, this is a Universal PLS6.150D 150W Laser Engraver

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  • $\begingroup$ Risk = must be completely enclosed, with safety interlocked doors and with any windows designed for the specific type and power of laser. Laser prob fine either way unless very perfectly reflective. Might not be the right kind of laser for glass and ceramic, depends on thickness - I can't speak to the numbers. In general, CO2 laser cut = basically a continuous thermal process. Type that's pulsed (bursts at peak power) can cut better. Other wavelengths can help absorb. $\endgroup$
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 27 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ Looking at absorption spectra, the quartz might be more favorable. At 10um, alumina looks like it's transitioning into being transmissive. Copper - depends on thickness and likely problematic. If thick, it will steal the heat, if thin, the HAZ from the cut may ruin it. Since you added that laser model: place I work used a Universal model that looks just like it, typically used for plastics up to 1cm thick, which also makes me doubtful $\endgroup$
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 27 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ Quarz glass can be cut with the co2 laser. ive done so with lasers that tave half your power. However its a bit tricky to find the right setting since the temperature shock tends to shatter the glass. Generally i would recommend that you put the glass in low a metal container that is filled with water to keep the temperature in check. $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 27 at 22:34

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If you have a safe enclosure as described by Pete W in a comment, then you reduce the risk to damage yourself or others. Risking the laser is usually avoided by tilting the processing head such that reflected radiation does not return straight into the resonator.

If those worries are taken care of, you can attempt to cut these materials, but there are a few points why it might get difficult with your setup:

  • Aluminium and copper are highly reflective for the wavelength of a CO2 laser, somewhere around 1-2% absorption, which makes protection for you and your environment even more important, but also minimizes the amount of energy that actually melts the material
  • Cutting aluminium with lasers requires process gas like nitrogen because molten aluminium and oxygen create a ceramic which tends to clog the cut
  • Cutting aluminium with lasers requires higher power than steel because you can't use oxygen to help melt the material (see reason above) and the power losses in the material are higher

That being said, you can surely try to cut these materials, I am just from a rough estimation not sure if the laser will get through.

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  • $\begingroup$ not aluminum, alumina (Al2O3), Ill clarify above $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, right, my bad, I misread that. See my point about the ceramic that clogs the cut. Apparently very thin layers of Al2O3 can be cut with CO2 lasers, but 2 mm I would not call thin anymore and it will probably need way more power than 150 W. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27 at 15:08

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