Materials often arrive from the supplier or customer with a surface protective coating. Although not always true, this is generally the case for expensive metals, those intended for a special purpose, or applications where aesthetics is critical.
Examples may include stainless-steel appliances, a part designated for a medical or aerospace application, a decorative art piece, and so on. The material may be coated with a variety of finishes including paint, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Nitto, Laser Film, and so on.
While these finishes do a good job of protecting the material from scratching, they can pose some significant cutting challenges. That’s because to reduce the likelihood of scratches or other damage, these finishes are intended to remain on the materials during processing and shipping.
The objective is to produce quality cuts without removing, scratching, melting or otherwise damaging the coating. It is therefore important to understand how to effectively laser cut coated materials while keeping the protective surface intact.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coating is an example of a type of coating. PVC is a cost-effective, fire-retardant material that is highly resistant to corrosion, abrasion, pressure, and harsh chemicals.
Today laser quality PVC and similar coating is readily available; but this wasn’t always the case. In the past these coatings often lacked the required consistency. If PVC coating is not tacky or sticky it may bubble and melt during processing. This causes the material to stick to the metal. In such instances it must be then grinded off which introduces the real possibility for scratching or burning the metal.
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