Cutting and drilling of cured composite components during manufacture or repair are a growing challenge as structures become bigger, more complex and costly. Machining abrasive carbon fiber causes high tool wear and can damage fibers, while water-jet cutters can cause moisture ingress in composites. Laser processing is emerging as a promising option, provided concerns about potential thermal damage are overcome. The U.K.'s Liverpool John Moores University is working with industrial fiber lasers, which offer lower capital cost, higher cutting speed and easier integration with assembly-line robots than other laser types because the beam can travel along an optical fiber. Using a 200-watt fiber laser supplied by JK Lasers, the university says it has demonstrated hole drilling with good edge quality as well as surface texturing before bonding—a process that now requires time-consuming manual sanding or sandblasting. In addition to cutting, trimming and drilling, other potential applications include laser milling of damaged laminates for repair, drilling thousands of tiny holes in composite acoustic liners, and welding of thermoplastic composites.