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Cutting PETG

PETG, or glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate, is a form of polyester (PET) used to create blister packaging, display units, and bottles for soaps and detergents. PETG is also approved for packaging food and pharmaceuticals. Products manufactured from PETG provide excellent clarity and impact resistance, are die-cut and thermoformed without affecting structural integrity, print easily when graphics are required, and resist stress whitening when bent. PETG offers many of the same advantages as polycarbonate, but at a much lower cost.

When considering material specifications for products that will require CO2 laser processing such as cutting, drilling, or degating, PETG provides another distinct advantage over polycarbonate—a cleanly cut edge with no yellowing or discoloration.

To verify this behavior, we setup our XY table to cut sheets of 2 mm (0.08”) thick PETG. For beam delivery, we chose a 63.5 mm (2.5”) positive meniscus lens that provides a 100-micron (0.004”) spot with a 1.8 mm (0.07”) depth of focus. Clean, dry air at 5.5 bar (80 PSI) was used as gas assist to remove vapor and molten material from the cut area. At a power level of 100 watts, we achieved cut speeds of 1.9 meters per minute (75 inches/minute). Edge quality, as shown in the photo, is clean with a slight amount of underside dross. Note the clarity of the PETG’s cut edge; it exhibits none of the yellowing or vapor deposition that is often present on polycarbonates.

This PETG sample illustrates the edge quality possible when laser cut. We cut this 0.08” thick sheet at 75 IPM using 100 watts.

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