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A 0.05in (1.27mm)-thick Kevlar-reinforced urethane belt has been cut at a speed of 11.3in/s using the 200W Synrad laser from Laser Lines.

The plastic and Kevlar composite provided clean cuts with a slight residue from the urethane using 20psi N2 assist gas.

To create a timing belt, the material is moulded in a large band and then trimmed to the desired width.

Laser cutting is a non-contact process, so there is no tool wear usually associated with Kevlar cutting.

Commonly used to produce protective apparel, sporting equipment and automotive parts, this high-strength fabric is used in applications where puncture and abrasion resistance are required.

In this instance, the fabric makes up the intermediate layer of a bullet-proof vest.

A 50W Synrad laser was used to cut the 0.02in-thick Kevlar at a speed of 4in/s.

Unlike many mechanical cutting tools, the laser produces smooth, clean cuts with no frayed edges.

The non-contact process does not result in any tool wear, eliminating potential downtime for cleaning and resharpening blades.

Polyamide fabric (sold under the trade name Kevlar) is recognised as the material used in bullet-proof vests.

Kevlar’s strength-to-weight ratio is five times that of steel, yet, being a woven fabric, it is flexible enough for use in the manufacture of cut-resistant gloves and clothing; small-diameter, high-tensile-strength ropes; reinforcement for run-flat tires; and as shrapnel-resistant blankets in military, aerospace and automotive applications.

For this particular application, the customer asked Laser Lines to perform bias cuts – cuts at a 45deg angle to the straight and crosswise orientation of the fibres.

The beam delivery setup began with a Firestar f201 laser, where the beam is moved across the cutting table by a set of ‘flying’ XY mirrors.

The expanded and collimated beam is then directed through a 63.5mm optic, resulting in a 100-micron (0.004in) focused spot on the fabric.

This section of 0.03in-thick woven Kevlar fabric was bias cut using 200W of power at a rate of 30in/min.

Laser Lines positioned the 0.762mm-thick Kevlar fabric on the flatbed table so that the laser beam would traverse the direction of the weave at a 45deg angle.

At a power level of 200W, the company cut the Kevlar at a speed of 0.76m/min (30in/min) using 4.1bar (60psi) of air assist.

Although the fabric exhibits some slight charring along the cut edge, the non-contact laser cut eliminates any distortion of the fabric often seen when mechanical cutting technology is used.

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