Christina Lu

Christina Lu

Overseas Sales Director and Co-Founder of KASU Laser, 12+ Years Textile and Fabric Laser Cutting Machine Expert.

Contents

Can Laser Cut Fabric?

I recently came across a friend who bought a laser cutter for cutting acrylic. One day, he decided to use his laser machine to cut some fabrics, which got me thinking.

I began to wonder if a laser is suitable for fabric cutting or not? Would the results be perfect, or would it only damage the material? With a little bit of research, I’ve been able to find the answer to this vital question.

So, can laser cut fabric? The answer is yes! Laser cutting is a manufacturing method that uses a laser for cutting different materials, including textiles. You can get many advantages from using laser provided you choose the suitable Co2 sourced laser combine with appropriate laser power. If the laser machine is high-quality, you should expect extreme accuracy and clean cuts without rough edges. Also, laser fabric cutting comes with sealed fabric to prevent fraying. But if you choose a laser source other than Co2, or smaller watt, it won’t cut the material due to low capacity.

As you read along, I will be discussing major points relating to laser fabric cutting, including:

  • CO2 laser cutter’s working principle
  • Main types of fabric the laser can cut
  • Recommended machine parameters for cutting roll fabric
  • Optional devices equipped to laser for more function
  • Main advantages and disadvantages of laser cutting fabric
  • Other non-metal materials the fabric laser cutter can cut
Laser Engraved Decorations for Garments by KASU Co2 Laser Cutter - Co2 laser cutter samples
Laser Engraved Fabric
Non Woven Four Leaf Clover Cut by KASU Co2 Laser Cutter with high precision
Laser Cut Fabric

CO2 Laser Cutter’s Working Principle

Amongst the different types of laser, the CO2 laser is the oldest and is still running. To function, a CO2 laser uses gas to power up and generates light when electricity runs through a gas-filled tube.

CO2 laser cutter has two different glass components: reflecting lens/mirrors and focusing lens, each having its distinctive function.

CO2 GLASS TUBE LASER CUTTER WORKING PRINCIPLE-Optical Path

One of the reflecting lenses enables the passage of light, and the other works for creating a reflection.

And the focusing lens is a plano-convex lens in the laser machine that helps to focus the laser beam to the surface.

Comparison of different depth and shapes in acrylic samples by lens with different focal length - Co2 laser cutter - KASU LASER

Different depths of materials will decide the usage of the focal length of the focusing lens. 

As fabric laser cutting machine is more recommended to cut single layer fabric, and 50.8mm focal length lens is commonly used for cutting textiles. 

Best focul height of Co2 laser cutting head and material surface - KASU Laser Cutter
Different Design of Co2 Laser Cutting Head with different focal length of lens - KASU LASER CUTTER

The gas used to operate a CO2 laser composes hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and helium.

There are two major types of fabric cutting laser tubes. These are the glass tube and metal tube. Here are some key differences between them:

Tube Glass Tube Metal Tube
Gas Use direct current to excite CO2 gases. Use radio frequency and alternating current.
Cool System Water cooling system Air cooling system
Energy Lower energy Higher energy
Cost Last about 2 years and price ranging from 250-1,000USD per tube. 10+ times higher
Metal Co2 Tube - KASU LASER
Metal Co2 Tube
Glass Co2 Laser Tube - Can Laser Cut Fabric - KASU Laser
Glass Co2 Tube

✮ Why China-Made glass tube is more recommended?

Regional players in China have become the major suppliers of borosilicate glass tubes that can meet industry-level quality certifications. Therefore, their low cost of production means it’s affordable and still meets international quality standards.

KASU LASER CUTTING MACHINE SEALED CO2 GLASS TUBE

Main Types of Fabric The Laser Can Cut

Laser cutting can be used on different fabric types, including jeans, fleece, lace, silk, cotton, Alcantara, softshell, polyester, linen, and felt.

Lasers have incredible flexibility and precision that the beam melts the materials, resulting in perfectly sealed edges.

You can even use this for laser engraving to give the fabric a unique finish. More details of this topic will be discussed in this blog: Main Types Of Fabric And Textiles Cut By Co2 Laser.

Recommended Machine Parameters For Cutting Roll Fabric

✮ Recommended laser power

Since CO2 laser beams are usually easily absorbed by fabrics, that would lead to a part of the fabric heating up and getting vaporized.

High laser power will ensure that it cuts through the material thoroughly, resulting in clean and smooth edges.

Generally, the recommended laser power for most fabric types is 100W. However, if this laser cutting is on thicker plush or composite fabric or leather, it’s best to rank it up to 130W or 150W. 

Generally the bigger the tube power is, the bigger the spot size of the laser would be. And regarding the laser spot size, the smaller, the cutting edge would be better.

So compared with 130W tube when cutting same fabric, 80W tube would be cutting slower, but have better cutting or engraving edge. 

The key factor here is to pay attention to the shape of the designed pattern, laser power, and thickness of the materials, as these will determine the fabric cutting speed.

✮ Conveyor working platform

There are some significant parameters to pay attention to to have your conveyor working platform functioning at an optimum level during fabric cutting.

These are the environmental conditions, the weight of the fabric, maximum throughput per time unit, control requirements, and the geometry of the material being transported.

Also, you should pick zero-pressure conveyor working platforms that won’t allow your fabrics to collide in transit and get damaged.

KASU LASER KD SERIES EXTENDED PATTERN PICK UP TABLE

✮ Machine effective cutting width and length

The effective cutting width refers to the machine bed size, which we suggest should be 200mm bigger than the roll width at all times. So, if you’re working with a roll width of 1600mm, it would be best to use 1800mm width machine models.

And for the cutting length, generally standard length for fixed working table would be no more than 1 meter. If bigger, it would be very difficult for operator to lay fabric and pick up cutted patterns.

And for conveyor belt, we have bigger bed like 3000mm or even 4000mm length machine for some special industries. But the most popular cutting bed length is within 1600mm as the machine can do continuous cutting and no need for a big sized model.

And you also need to take transportation expenses into account. The standard container’s door is 2.3 meter wide and if machine too big, you will pay much more money for the open-structure container. 

So, for machine size, it’s not always the bigger, the better. Choose the most suitable model for your factory can ease your future job.

✮ Machine heads

The laser cutting head consists of a focus tracking system, focusing lens, and nozzle.

With this device, the laser cutter head moves along the z-axis composed of fixtures like gear, screw rod, and servo or stepper motor.

You would have to adjust the height of the laser cutting head based on different cutting methods, thicknesses, and materials.

The two major types of machine heads are single head, dual heads and four heads.

Your choice to go for the single head or multi heads will depend on your fabric’s pattern, size, and layout design.

Single head or dual heads with dual guide rails are better for garment layout. However, if you want faster cutting productivity, you can try two heads or four heads with one beam.

More details of the laser heads difference, please refer to this polular motion modes of textile laser cutter heads and applications.

KASU LASER QUALITY SPARE PARTS GUIDE RAILS AND HARDWARE MODULES CUTTING HEADS

✮ Active feeder

The active feeder allows rolls of fabric to enter into the laser for engraving or cutting.

The active feeder is recommended when the fabric is in the roll since it comes with a sensor for auto-detecting the fabric.

This auto feeder can also save manpower because one worker will handle more than one machine.

KASU ROLL FABRIC LASER CUTTING MACHINE OPTIONAL DEVICE ACTIVE FEEDING MACHINE

Optional Devices Equipped To Laser For More Functions

✮ Small CCD camera

You can choose to include a small CCD in your laser cutter, which is excellent for small-sized embroidered applique or label.

However, you need to be sure that it fits your needs before making that purchase. You can understand more functions of small CCD camera laser cutter .

KASU KX Series CCD Cutting Sample Woven Label
Woven Label
KASU KX Series CCD Cutting Sample Dye Sublimated Applique
Sublimation Applique
KASU LASER KD SERIES LASER CUTTING SAMPLES-EMBROIDERY APPLIQUE
Embroidery Patch

✮ Top Canon camera

The top camera is perfect for bigger-sized embroidered lace and digitally printed fabric.

In addition, it adds more precision to your work. You can find more applications of top Canon camera laser cuttter in this page.

Colorful Indian Garment Embroidery Applique - Embroidery and Lace Applique - Co2 laser cutter - KASU Laser Cutter
Embroidery Patches
KASU LASER KD SERIES LASER CUTTING SAMPLES-DYE SUBLIMATED SOFT SIGNAGE BANNER AND FLAG
Sublimation Patterns
White Lingerie Lace Ribbon -Embroidery and Lace Trim - Co2 laser cutter - KASU Laser Cutter Auto Laser Cut
Lace Trim

✮ Projector

This comes in handy for genuine leather, striped garments, or fly knitted shoe upper. For example, a BenQ projector can help project the design file to the laser cutter, helping the operator position the fabric manually.

KASU KP Series Laser Cutting Machine with BenQ Projector cutting samples fly knitting shoe upper 3
Fly Knit Shoe Upper
KASU KP Series Laser Cutting Machine with BenQ Projector cutting samples striped T-shirts
Striped Products

Main Advantages of Laser Cutting Fabric

✮ Affordability

Compared to their level of functionality, glass tube laser cutters made in China are super cheap.

A single laser cutting machine with a proper camera can replace up to seven workers and bring impressive ROI even after rent, electricity, and consumables.

A detailed discussion regarding the laser maintenance cost will be presented to you in this blog: Is Laser Cutting Digital Printed Fabric A Good Business.

✮ Flexibility

With the same setup, you can cut several shapes with the same level of thickness. This flexibility with laser cutting makes cutting fabrics straightforward.

Although lasers can cut through thick materials, it’s best to use them with a single layer of fabric. This will give you the best cutting edge and fastest speed.

While using lasers, only CAD design files are necessary, and these are suitable for customized orders.

✮ Precision

KASU LASER KD SERIES LASER CUTTING SAMPLES-DIGITAL PRINTED BUTTERFLY

Laser cutting has an impressive level of precision compared to other cutting methods. This level of accuracy is as high as +/- 0.1mm, which is one of the best you’ll get from laser cutting.

✮ Speed

Compared to manual cutting methods, laser cutting is a lot faster. Its speed is great, with complex cuts of up to 10mm in thickness. This advantage is thanks to the power of the laser cutter.

✮ Automation

Laser cutting can be highly automated despite the need for an experienced machine operator. Since there is little need for manual labor and the cutting speed is set automatically, you will spend less on laser cutting.

✮ Quality

Laser cutting leaves on a small heat-affected zone. With the right setup, you’ll only experience a slight burr from the cutters, but this depends on the thickness and type of material.

✮ Contactless cutting

The laser cutter lasts longer since there is no mechanical friction that could lead to wear and tear. Only the beam will come in contact with the material.

KASU KX Series CCD Laser Cutting Machine Working Step 4

✮ Versatility

The beauty of laser cutting is that it is incredibly versatile with suitability for different types of materials.

Apart from cutting fabrics, the laser method can be used for paper, wood, and acrylic. All it needs is a little configuration, and it will work with different jobs depending on the power of the machine.

Another way to use laser cutters is for laser marking, which can be used on denim marking or heat transfer vinyl cutting.

✮ Material Saving

A smaller cutting distance can save a lot on raw materials. For example, lasers can save as much as 10% on materials for shoes or plush toys compared with punching machines.

Please check this article to understand more about the pros and cons of different enterprise-grade fabric cutting machines and make the right decision which machine can best suit your factory.

KASU LASER K SERIES LASER CUTTING MACHINE CUTTING FUNCTION FOUR HEADS

Main Disadvantages of Laser Cutting Fabric

Despite the numerous benefits that come with laser cutting fabric, it has its downsides. Here are a few of them:

✮ You need a specialist operator

A laser cutter can’t be operated by just anyone. To use it to its full advantage, it should have the proper setup to match the expected cutting quality. An expert who has gone through the necessary training will be able to handle this easily.

✮ Emission of dangerous fumes

While laser cutting can be used for various materials, the thermal cutting method is not a hundred percent safe for the environment.

When it makes materials melt, it also emits dangerous fumes and gases that could harm the operator and anyone around. You may have to invest in a ventilation system to reduce the effects of this as you use the laser cutter frequently.

✮ Some materials may have yellow edge

While most of the fabric materials Co2 lasers can cut perfectly, here is a list of materials that are likely to develop yellow edges like PU leather, genuine leather and wool. 

Other Non-metal Materials The Fabric Laser Cutter Can Cut

Other non-metal materials that the fabric laser cutter can cut are acrylic, plastic, paper, plywood, MDF, bamboo, leather, and sponge.

No doubt, laser cutting technology is the future. With its incredible versatility and the fact that it can be used to cut fabrics, garment industries have a lot to benefit from this tool. In addition, the stains that the laser cutter leaves are not always noticeable and can be removed easily.

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. For his business so that he may cut metals, my uncle wants to purchase a laser cutting machine. It’s fascinating that you claimed that because lasers are so flexible and precise, the materials are melted, creating flawlessly sealed edges. Thank you for the article and I’ll send it to my uncle so he can read about the benefits of laser cutting.

    1. Hi, Mats, many thanks for your feedback. And please let us know if you or your uncle have any future questions regarding the laser cutting machine. Have a nice day. Christina

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