A laser focus on fantastic plastics
Lasers are widely used in everyday life, for example when playing a movie from a DVD or scanning barcodes at the supermarket. But the lasers you’ll find in a REHAU manufacturing site are far more powerful and play a clever role in delivering polymer manufacturing perfection. Read on to explore how REHAU innovators have developed creative ways to use lasers to produce highly distinctive, even individually personalised, polymer-based products.
Three bright ways to use a laser
Having the ability to fix together two elements without affecting their geometry and dimensions is essential in precision engineering tasks. Our materials experts have perfected laser welding techniques that can bond an upper element that is unaffected by a specific laser wavelength to a lower element that absorbs the waves. The resulting heat precisely melts the base layer material at the point of contact, creating a strong weld seam. Laser welding also allows us to fix different polymers together and even achieve invisible welding seams on colored plastics. REHAU mainly uses contour welding and simultaneous welding processes, with the final technique uniquely adjusted to match the properties of the polymers being welded.
REHAU engineers are now able to add inscriptions to products using an extremely precise laser scribing process. These inscriptions can be as small as just a few millimeters, making them perfect for many purposes including identifying pipes and customised extruded profiles. Depending on the characteristics of the polymer involved, various visual effects and contrasts can also be achieved. For instance, the color of the polymer can be changed through polymer foaming or carbonization. Where appropriate, laser engraving can leave a base polymer color unchanged but apply a subtle visual contrast by creating a differently structured surface. Laser scribing at REHAU is not only a magically precise process, the inscriptions it creates are hardwearing and rich in contrast for years to come.
For very precise cutting you need a way to slice materials without physically touching it. That’s where the REHAU lasers come in, cutting through polymers and more without damaging or impacting the materials in any way. With recent laser advances, other tools like punching heads and matrices are no longer used. And, thanks to computerised controls, laser cutting is now commercially viable even when the quantities involved may be small. REHAU specialists have also perfected laser fusion cutting in the fabrication of vehicle bumpers and excel at laser sublimation cutting where seamless sharp edges are needed.
Laser Focus on Furniture
How laser technology makes better furniture
At many companies, furniture boards and edgebands are bonded together using adhesives. The result is often an unsightly, irregular adhesive joint. Laser welding is a specialized process used by REHAU to bond board and edgeband together without adhesives. An extremely efficient, high precision laser melts a special polymer backing layer, so it bonds instantly with the board. This creates a lasting, seamless joint, light years ahead of the finish quality possible with messy adhesives.
Dr. Philipp Matthes
- B. Eng. (university of applied sciences)
- Joined REHAU in 2011
- Development engineer (department: Corporate Research and Development Advanced Technologies)