18 Oct 2021
Orthogonal structure carbon dioxide laser oscillator enables rapid mass production of CFRP products.Mitsubishi Electric has launched two new CV Series models of 3D CO2 laser processing systems specifically designed for cutting carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP), which are lightweight, high strength materials used in automobiles.
The new models will be exhibited at MECT 2021 (Mechatronics Technology Japan 2021) at Port Messe Nagoya, Nagoya International Exhibition Hall between October 20 to 23.
The materials processing systems are equipped with CO2 laser oscillators that integrate the oscillator and amplifier into the same enclosure, which the company describes as “a world-first”.
Together with the materials processing head of the CV Series, this design can help achieve high-speed and precision processing, in order to enable mass-production of CFRP products, which Mitsubishi says has so far been unavailable using previous processing methods.
”In recent years, there have been increased calls in the automobile industry for reductions in CO2 emissions, improved fuel efficiency, and more lightweight materials enabling greater cruising ranges. This is driving the increasing demand for CFRP, which is a relatively new material,” said Mitsubishi’s launch statement.
On the other hand, CFRP processing using existing technology has had issues such as high operating costs, low productivity and issues with waste treatment. A new processing method was required. The CV Series will overcome these challenges by achieving high productivity and processing quality far superior to existing processing methods helping to facilitate the mass production of CFRP products at a level that was hitherto unachievable.
In addition, says Mitsubishi, “the new series will help to reduce the environmental burden by such means as a reduction in waste, thereby contributing to the realization of a sustainable society.”
For laser cutting of CFRP, the fiber laser widely used for cutting sheet metal is not suitable as the beam absorption rate is extremely low for the resin and so the resin needs to be melted by thermal conduction from the carbon fiber.
Although CO2 lasers have a high laser energy absorption rate for both carbon fiber and resin, the conventional sheet metal cutting CO2 lasers do not have a steep pulse waveform making them unsuitable for cutting CFRP due to the high heat input into the resin.
The CV Series achieves both a steep pulse waveform and high output power. This integrated-MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) system 3-axis orthogonal-type CO2 laser oscillator enables the integration of the oscillator and amplifier into the same enclosure; it converts the beam oscillated at low power into a steep pulse waveform suited for cutting CFRP.
Combining steep pulse waveforms and the high beam power required for CFRP cutting achieves exceptional processing speeds, says Mitsubishi – about six times faster than existing processing methods such as cutting and waterjet, thereby helping to improve productivity.