LaserMaterials

Jackie Pease edited this page Jul 29, 2018 · 11 revisions

Materials

There are plenty of materials that can be safely cut on our Laser Cutters such as ply, mdf, acrylic, card, paper, leather, and fabric. We've also had success etching glass, bread and Tic-tacs. See CutEtchSettingsSophia and CutEtchSettingsGerald to see what materials have been cut. If you cut a material that isn't already listed here remember to add the cut settings to the list.

"Do Not Cut" Materials

While we encourage using unusual materials in our cutters there are some materials which should never be cut.

  • Do not cut vinyl or PVC on a laser cutter as it releases chlorine gas which is both noxious and corrosive so is dangerous to inhale and seriously damages the laser cutter.
  • Do not cut metal on our CO2 laser cutter as it is not powerful enough and reflects the beam, damaging the cutter.
  • Do not cut multiple stacked sheets as they are very likely to ignite. Corrugated cardboard is a particularly sensitive material, and is quite likely to set it's self on fire without cutting all the way through.

Hackaday has some instructions on how to perform a hot-wire test to check what an unidentified material contains to see if it is specifically unsafe to cut. But you should always know that the material you are cutting is laser safe before using the cutter. The Manufacturer's Data Sheet (MSDS) is the gold standard for this information.

Suppliers

We keep a small stock of 300mm square Acrylic and Birch Plywood (3mm) that you can buy to use, and you are welcome to anything in the offcuts drawer. Otherwise you will need to bring your own materials.

We've found the following suppliers of Laser cut-able materials:

Martin Raynsford has a good list of suppliers at http://msraynsford.blogspot.co.uk/p/materials.html

London Hackspace have a useful Laser Cutter page on their wiki, as does Adafruit on http://www.ladyada.net/library/laser/index.html their wiki (which includes details on etching iPods, laptops, etc. although their cutter is an Epilog, so isn't directly comparable)

There's an excellent library of different materials and how well they cut at http://www.cutlasercut.com/laser-cutting-materials-laser-engraving-materials and another (including mention of some which are no-go for cutting, like PVC) at http://www.lasercuttingshapes.com/page/materials

There's been a bit of discussion about laser-cutting rubber stamps, so http://wiki.nottinghack.org.uk/wiki/Laser_Stamps might be of interest. The Epilog "how to cut rubber stamps" instructions talk about using a special driver that means you etch stuff with _/ sort of profile rather than |_| profile, but it's not clear how essential that is.

If buying laminate acrylic (to allow you to etch through one colour to expose a different colour), Hobarts gave these instructions on working out which kind you need:

  • White on black - Here you engrave away the surface to reveal black underneath. Therefore your sign will be white with black lettering.
  • Black on white - The opposite to the above. Here you engrave away the surface to reveal white underneath. Therefore your sign will be black with white lettering. For 1.5mm laminate, need really low power. Maybe speed of 200 to etch, with low power. Probably something like speed 25, power 40 for cutting.

For etching acrylic, light etching is better, and if you use cast acrylic you should get a nice white etch. Blue film on the acrylic usually means it's extruded, whereas white film (or Perspex labelling) means it's cast.

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