Mould Laser texture allows for complex and consistent designs that can be added to injection moulds to decorative purposes. These textures allow you to customize products from automotive components to packaging. You can mimic the look of leather or wood, as well as geometric patterns, with these textures. Laser texturing is a more sustainable and attractive design option than conventional surface treatments using chemical etching.
What is laser Texturing?
Lasers, which are also known as Light Amplification through Stimulated Electron Emission of Radiation, are electronic optical devices that emit a narrow beam and intense monochromatic light. The laser’s name is derived from an acronym for Light Amplification via Stimulated Energy Radiation. Although this technology has been in use for over 50 years, it is only now that it can be used to produce textures on materials.
Laser blasting/laser texturing can be done digitally. This allows manufacturers to be confident that the finished product will remain consistent regardless of where it’s manufactured.
Digital technology also allows the creation and modification of textures previously unimaginable due to limitations in chemical etching. Image 2 shows how you can blend multiple textures together using a digital process. This example shows how leather texture is blended into a dimple texture all in one workpiece.
Are there instances when chemical etching still makes sense?
The benefits of going digital without etching are substantial. They reduce the need to use harsh chemicals and speed up turnaround times. Sometimes chemical etching still makes sense. Some textures were patented by chemical etching. Once the patent expires, the process can not be altered. In some cases, extreme roughness/hardness might be necessary. In these situations, chemical etching might be the best option.
Many manufacturers are beginning to use a hybrid approach. In these cases, the manufacturer will first remove the masking by using the laser before moving on to the chemical processing. The 5-axis Laser System helps ensure perfect texture control, particularly in highly complex molds.
What are the benefits of laser texturing?
Transparent design: Laser texturing files are possible to be created in-house, or can include natural surfaces via reverse engineering using a 3D scanner (see image 3). Programmers can use CAD/CAM software to create laser texturing files. This allows them to do transition-free patches, UV mapping, and 3D simulation.
Consistent quality: Laser ablation allows users to maintain smooth and flawless textures across the mould’s parts. A manufacturer can guarantee that the texture transitions seamlessly between the two moulds if they are placed next to each other.
Laser ablation also offers depth flexibility and texture. It is easy to indicate the depth difference during programming if a user wants to have two or three textures in one mould.
How is laser-blasting distinct from laser texturing?
Laser-blasting is similar to sandblasting and glass blasting. This process involves texturing and cleaning a surface. Laser-blasting is more repeatable than sandblasting or glass blasting. Laser-blasting achieves the same result every single time. A manufacturer can make sure that the surface finish they are looking for is achieved. Laser blasting allows you to remove any milling marks or burrs, which results in a completely smooth surface.
Which market segments are laser-texturing most popular?
Many of the world’s largest companies in packaging, PET blow moulding, medical, aerospace and microstructures have begun to see the benefits of this technology. These include the ability for a seamless transition to digital technology, 5-axis capabilities, as well as the ability to create brand-specific textures.
Laser texturing technology is being used by the plastic bottle/blow moulding industry in innovative and original ways. To achieve different textures, some manufacturers are creating generic bottle shapes and adding different inserts to them. This allows for an infinite number of bottles using a single container. All you have to do is change the insert.
A laser ablation process can be used by bottle manufacturers to remove the need for traditional milling electrodes, die sink EDMing and other steps. Because of its 5-axis capabilities, the laser texturing tool can create ridges along each side.
For packaging companies, the best thing about laser centers is the ability of imparting different contrasts. The laser center’s ability to precisely hit the line of separation is another advantage.
Because there are so much potential with laser texturing, automotive manufacturers have been among the most active adopters. Every manufacturer attempts to differentiate their offerings with different headlights.
The dashboard is the most complex automotive mould that can be texture on a regular basis. A laser can be used to create leather grain textures with as many as 65,000 layers, instead of 5-10.