Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

General discussion of laser machines

Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby StigOE » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:28 pm

Hi all.

I have some problems trying to find out what can and can't be used in a laser cutter/engraver. I know metals, other than engraving anodized aluminium or marking metals withe Cermark, can't be used in the laser. But when it comes to a lot of other materials there are a lot of different opinions. I've seen people say you can't use the following, while others have said: No problem...

- Polycarbonate
- ABS
- Vinyl
- Carbon fiber
- Fibreglass
- Probably more I can't remember

Can anyone tell me if or why not these materials can be used in the laser?

Stig
StigOE
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:08 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby cpdude » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:48 pm

I've got some personal experience with cutting (trying to cut anyway) ABS, carbon fiber and fiberglass. The ABS I cut (it did cut) turned very soft and didn't cut very well. The carbon fiber seemed cut a little bit and then it just seemed to absorb most of the laser energy. I didn't have a lot of luck with fiberglass either. It seemed to like to burn. I have seen fiberglass that's been laser cut so I'm going to give it another shot.

I don't have any experience cutting Vinyl. Understand that "Vinyl is a generic term for several different materals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl). I believe the laser will cut most if not all of these materials. However, I know that PVC and possibly others put off corrisive and toxic gases.

Brian
2.x laser ( Mach3 | SmoothStepper | FSE RetinaEngrave)| DIY CNC Router (EMC2) | Prusa I3 3d printer | Building a Wolfstock deta printer | Rhino v5
cpdude
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:21 pm
Location: Cameron Park, CA

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby StigOE » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:08 pm

Thanks, Brian.

I saw some places where they didn't say much about not being able to cut ABS nicely, and other places saying it would give a melted appearance, while other places said it gave off cyanide gas and others again said it was so little it was nothing to worry about as long as you had some ventilation.
I knew about PVC and chlorine gas already, but I wasn't sure about vinyl if that would also give off chlorine gas. At least one place says vinyl would give off toxic gases.

Stig
StigOE
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:08 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby plasticbaldy » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:15 am

Vinyl IS PVC with added plasticiser. From memory PVC is Poly Vinyl Chloride and abbreviates to Vinyl for convenience when used to describe the non rigid version.
I'm not sure about the advice on cutting carbon fibre because I believe that RC Helicopter Carbon side frames are commonly laser cut. These are usually up to 2.5mm thick. Maybe there's some specific experience required here. Professional machines have an air or inert gas jet blowing with the beam.
It's a bit frustrating that all this informtion is well known in the industry & we're here trying to discover it by experimentation.
plasticbaldy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:48 am

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby macona » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:23 am

Polycarbonate cuts very poorly. Flames up. Real mess. Tried it by accident.
ABS chars and gives off poisonous gas.
Vinyl is PVC, chlorine gas
Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass need to be cut with higher power than we are dealing with. Waterjet would be better.

Download and read the manuals for the Epilog or Universal lasers. They will tell you what you can and cannot cut.
macona
 
Posts: 363
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:30 pm

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby plasticbaldy » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:35 am

Well done macona. A man who knows what he's talking about. Thanks again.
plasticbaldy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:48 am

Re: Materials suitable for laser cutting/engraving

Postby StigOE » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:13 pm

Thanks, macona. Appreciate it.
StigOE
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:08 pm
Location: Norway


Return to General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests