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Burning holes in thermal paper - what's needed?

matseng

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I'm more or less a total noob when it comes to high powered lasers. The last time I actually used a laser (except for the regular cheap laser pointers) was like 30 years ago when I purchased a dammned expensive 5 mW Melles-Griot He-Ne and was playing around with making holographic images.

But now I'm toying with the idea of recreating a modern version of the old Paper Tape Punch that they used for computers back in the 60'es and 70'ies. https://www.google.com/search?q=paper+tape+punch&source=lnms&tbm=isch

The mechanical punchers are really hard to find today and they are bloody expensive if you're even lucky to find one.

My idea here is to slice up regular thermal paper rolls, like they have in cash registers and point of sales terminals, into 1" wide slices and then have an array of 9 lasers in the hope that they could to burn rather well defined holes in the paper. Using thermal paper will hopefully make it easier to burn a hole since it is rather thin and also turns black when heated.

So what power to I need to poke a hole in thermal paper reasonably fast, say less than one second? And would the wavelength of the laser affect the speed in any way? Blue/Green/Ir?

If the burning speed is high enough I might only need one laser and have a surface mirror controlled by a stepper to burn the holes one-by-one in each row instead of all of them in one go.
 

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In terms of color: use blue (or UV laser). It has shortest wavelength, thus higher energy than red/green.
Secondly it's more important that you get the laser beam focused at the burning point.
 
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I tried burning this type of paper a few times with my blue lasers (the ones linked to in my signature) and I can tell you is doesn't burn as quick as what you want and it doesn't burn a clean hole so I am not sure you could make it work.

Alan
 

DrSid

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In terms of color: use blue (or UV laser). It has shortest wavelength, thus higher energy than red/green.
Secondly it's more important that you get the laser beam focused at the burning point.
Photon energy does not play role in burning capabilities. That is already included in nominal laser power. 100mW red has same power as 100mW blue. What matters though is material absorption of individual wavelengths .. and that varies for different materials. Some materials will be burned better by red, some by blue.
Anyway it is true, that most materials react better to blue or near UV. 405nm lasers are cheap and can be focused well. 445nm are available in higher powers, but they cannot be focused that well.
For white thermal paper 405 might be a lot better, as 445nm might not be absorbed well. Yellow thermal paper could work a lot better.
The focusing might not be problem, it really depends no how big you want the spots to be.
 

matseng

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Thanks.... So it seems like I'll have to go for a 808nm FAP in the range of 20-40 watt then if the 2 watt blue ones are not able to poke a hole in the paper in a reasonable timeframe.

For hole size I'd say that 1.5mm 1/16" would be good enough.

Ok, back to the drawingboard for this idea then :)
 




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