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Review: Comparative analysis of CO2 laser and conventional sawing for cutting of lumber and wood-based materials

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Since its initial development over 50 years ago, laser cutting has become one of the most widely used techniques to cut wood-based materials. This technology is applied to commercial settings to process a range of metallic and non-metallic materials. Here, some of the pros and cons of these applications are analysed, as well as the limitations of laser cutting technology for wood and wood-based materials. Thus, a technical overview of the potential and range of parameters required for successful application to these materials is provided. For comparative purposes, the applicability of conventional circular sawing is analysed. Limitations and requirements vary considerably among technologies. In contrast to conventional sawing, contact-free laser cutting is not limited by kerf width (width of material removed by the laser beam) or tool wear. Increasing thickness of the workpiece, on the other hand, represents a major limiting factor for laser cutting. By increasing the laser power output, feed speed increases; however, high output power also requires high energy input due to the low energy conversion efficiency associated with this technology. Instantaneous vaporization is the preferred laser cutting method for cellulosic materials, and it depends on the depth of focus produced by the converging lens. In sum, laser cutting represents a step forward in wood-based material cutting for its enhanced performance, although this is to be balanced by an increase in energy consumption and a potentially higher economic cost.

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Financial support for this work in the framework of the PhD school DokIn'Holz funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the companies Fritz Egger GmbH, Doka Österreich GmbH and Springer Maschinenfabrik AG is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Alejandro Martínez-Conde.

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Martínez-Conde, A., Krenke, T., Frybort, S. et al. Review: Comparative analysis of CO2 laser and conventional sawing for cutting of lumber and wood-based materials. Wood Sci Technol 51, 943–966 (2017).

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