Laser welding and cutting synthetic non-woven fabrics.

  • Home
  • /
  • News
  • /
  • Laser welding and cutting synthetic non-woven fabrics.

Non-woven materials are frequently used for the production of disposable medical personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks or disposable aprons, coveralls, or shoe covers.

The term non-woven is used in the textile manufacturing industry to denote engineered fabrics which are neither woven nor knitted. They are made from staple fibre (short) and long fibres (continuous long), bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. Most modern non-woven fabrics are composed of synthetic fibres. (wikipedia)

Garments made from non-woven fabrics are typically assembled using ultrasonic welding equipment resulting in the typical hatch patterns or dotted lines you see on face masks.

Ultrasonic welding tools are rather specialised equipment and not part of an average Fab Lab or makerspace, can we use more readily available tools to weld non-woven fabrics? Luckily enough the non-wovens used in medical garments are almost always 100% synthetic with polypropylene (PP) being the most used fibre. These synthetic materials also lend themselves well to thermal bonding using heat sealers. While some people have explored building CNC heat sealers in the past we decided to experiment with cutting & welding non-woven PP fabric using a 40W laser cutter.

These experiments prove that with the correct parameters, one can cut & weld these types of synthetic fabrics for rapid production of medical PPE products of small to medium size.

Here’s a first test with different settings, the key to welding is to unfocus your laser by moving the cutting bed a few millimetre away from the laser head so the laser beam widens and heat is dissipated in a broader line. All tests were performed using a 40W Fabcreator Fabkit CO2 laser cutter at +Unfold.

Read more: Laser welding and cutting synthetic non-woven fabrics.