Laser Cutting Medical Face Visors

Monday 20th April 2020

As the days have rolled into weeks of this lockdown we have all become aware of the challenges facing front line workers with regard to having adequate PPE including face visors. The 3D printing and laser cutting industries have responded to these demands.

As suppliers, we have noticed an increase in enquiries for our laserable plastic sheets particularly our Rowmark Lasermax and IPI Laserable II products which have become popular both in the U.K. and Ireland for visor headbands. We have also had enquiries for 0.5mm (500 microns) clear PETG for the visor screen itself. This PETG is not a normal stock item for us but we have managed to secure some stock from our suppliers and hope this will be ongoing as long there is demand. 




Apart from material enquiries, we have also seen an increase in laser owners helping the national effort to manufacture these visors. However, for a lot of them cutting plastic sheet is a new experience which can be inherently more dangerous than working with other substrates like wood, paper and metals.
 
As suppliers of both laser machines and materials we would offer the following advice when lasering cutting plastics:

  • - Always identify the plastic you intend to work with. Is it laser-friendly? Were possible insist on an MSDS or specification sheet. DO NOT LASER CUT PVC’s or materials that contain PVC as it emits gases that are hazards to both your laser and you. A list of laser compatible materials can be found here.
  • - Ensure that your laser is fitted with adequate extraction to remove fumes. More information here.
 
To help we have also some recommendations for machine settings based on our experience of our Rowmark and IPI plastic as well as doing some trial cuts on PETG this week. In each case below, the machine is an Epilog Laser and we have to acknowledge that there will be variances between machine manufacturers and laser tube technologies, but hopefully, this will give some guidance.

80w Epilog Fusion Pro
  • 1.5mm laserable Rowmark or IPI plastic – speed 30%, power 50%, low frequency
  • 0.5mm PETG clear – speed 40%, power 30% , full frequency
 
50w Epilog Helix
  • 1.5mm laserable Rowmark or IPI plastic – speed 18%, power 50%, low frequency
  • 0.5mm PETG clear – speed 35%, power 30%, full frequency)
 
Please note, for those using an Epilog Fusion Pro laser it is important to select Speed Comp instead of Power Comp in the driver dashboard.
 
The low frequency on the laserable 2 ply plastics may seem counterintuitive to some in the plastics laser cutting industry but in our experience using the lower frequency on this type of acrylic 2 ply sheet gives a cleaner cut and the finish is less tacky. All of this reduces cleaning time post cutting and the reduced tackiness prevents future handling of the product causing more dirt to be cleaned.

Hopefully, this information is useful for those working with new materials. Keep up the good work.

 
Derek Doherty

General Manager
CSI Manufacturing Ltd

derek@csionline.ie

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