Laser cutting tetra-packs?

(Dermot Jones) #1

@lasertechs we’ve had an interesting enquiry…

Tetra packs have been part some fun repurposing/upcycling projects in the past…but laser cutting?

Hello there,

I am not a member of SLM yet and I am a bit far to make it my makerspace of choice but I have been wanting to come and check on you for a while. The following enquiry might be a good incentive to do so.

I am working on a project for which I am exploring the possibilities of lasercutting Tetra Pack cartons (milk, juice…)

Most Tetra-Paks have an extremely thin layer of aluminium and as far as I know reflective materials are no good for laser cutters. This is a link with a better description of the different layers that make a Tetra Pak . I believe laser-cutting the survace with carton should avoid some reflections, but I am no expert. Also, the aluminium layer is very thin and I would like to know if it would be ok to directly laser-cut the aluminium face.

Could you help on the matter? May I come over with a sample of tetra pack on which you can make a test? Do you know already if that is possible?

Thanks a lot for your availability.


(Louis) #2

From my knowledge, a trotec laser with installed fibre laser(otherwise known as a flexx system) can cut aluminium up to 0.5mm think. Cutting and marking all metals with our none flexx speedy 300 is not recommended. I can’t imagine it will will damage the laser as the flexx hybrid system isn’t affected in the same process but, based on the importance of our laser in SLMS I wouldn’t recommend it. :slightly_smiling_face:

(unknowndomain) #3

Would be interesting to know what the plastic film is that they are coated inside with is made of as thats the biggest risk (Could be PVC), I am not sure they have foil in them, but could be wrong.


What are cartons made from?
Tetra Pak® cartons are made from wood in the form of paperboard, as well as thin layers of aluminium and polyethylene. The most common Tetra Pak carton is 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminium. On average, our cartons contain 73% paperboard.

You won’t get through the aluminium, however quick research shows PE laser cuts well. The Aluminium is unlikely to reflect the light but more likely to cause a fire as the heat will spread through the material from the laser hitting the paper and bring it closer to ignition point.

A controlled test with a laser tech present seems mildly risky and unlikely to succeed. You could look at engraving the top surface only and then laser cutting that, or putting a knife cutter into the CNC machine or vinyl cutter instead.

(Pete Hellyer) #4

would the craft-robo be strong enough to get through tetra-paks?

(unknowndomain) #5

Possibly, not tried it can do card though

(Dermot Jones) #6

I was wondering this too…can easily experiment

(Dermot Jones) #7

We know it cuts card, we know it cuts aluminium foil…so definitely worth a play