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Laser Cutting Materials: Which is Best for Your Projects?

Laser Cutting Materials: Which is Best for Your Projects?

Wang wenting |

When using laser cutting for the first time, you might feel a little overwhelmed. How can you help? What supplies ought you to employ? How far into the material can your machine cut? Which laser cutting machine settings are best for cutting various materials?

Laser cutting and engraving machines provide a variety of options for creating personalized items. Although laser cutting wood is common, it is not the only material that can be used. There are numerous laser cutting materials available. Just make sure that the laser cutting machine you choose is appropriate for your most commonly used materials when making your selection. Materials that can be cut can also be carved. Knowing how deep your machine can cut materials can help you perform engraving work more effectively.

 

What is Laser Cutting?

 

Laser cutting is a process that uses a laser beam to cut through materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, or textiles. The laser beam is focused and intense enough to vaporize or melt the material, creating a clean and precise cut. The process is typically performed by a computer numerical control (CNC) system that controls the movement of the laser and sets the cutting parameters.
 
Laser engraving, on the other hand, is a process that uses a laser beam to etch or mark a surface. The laser beam removes material from the surface, leaving behind a permanent, engraved image. The process is typically used to add text, logos, or graphics to a variety of materials, such as metal, plastic, glass, or wood. Unlike laser cutting, laser engraving does not result in the removal of material, but instead creates an indentation or mark on the surface.

 

Best Laser Cutter Materials 

1. Wood for Laser Cutting

One of the most popular materials for laser cutting is wood. It's common for amateurs and even experts to use a wood laser cutter to cut out assembly-line components, engrave presents, and carve intricate designs into a piece of wood.
 
Of course, you can laser cut the majority of wood types. A thinner piece will function better if you're cutting all the way through. Since they are less expensive, plywood and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) are frequently used. However, bamboo is a great choice that is friendly to the environment. Ideally, test anything more expensive after practicing with MDF or plywood.

 

2. Plastic and Acrylic for Laser Cutting

Acrylic can be cut with a laser cutter to produce some truly incredible works of art. Materials like plastic and acrylic are perfect for making wall art, jewelry, signs, and other items. You can choose from a wider variety of acrylics than wood, which may surprise you.

Popular acrylic is plexiglass, particularly colored plexiglass. Make lovely stained-glass-inspired art. You can choose between different thicknesses, just like with wood.

 

3. Foam for Laser Cutting

Foam plastic is also known as porous plastic, which is made of resin as the main raw material and has countless micropores inside. It is widely used as heat insulation, sound insulation, packaging materials and car hull. Commonly used foams include polyurethane, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, phenolic foam, etc.
Using CO2 laser can cut polymer based foam most effectively. The laser beam heats the material directly, causing it to evaporate. If the laser power is high enough, the laser beam will completely penetrate the material. When laser beam is used to cut polymer, the polymer will evaporate rapidly, thus making the edge smooth and the heat affected zone minimum. For metal based foam, fiber laser is the most effective. The fiber laser can cut thin sheets of foam (up to 1 / 8 inch or 3 mm). Ceramic based foam is usually not cut by laser because it is very brittle and may crack.

 

4. Metal for Laser Cutting

Laser metal cutting can be a little challenging. Use thinner parts and the powerful Monport 50w marking machine to cut the metal completely if you want to do so. The metal will be distorted by the general co2 laser engraving.

 

5. Leather for Laser Cutting 

The surface of the hook line cannot be yellow, the material background must be carved, the cutting edge of the leather cannot be black, and the engraving must be clear. These are the requirements for the laser engraving machine process. Materials like synthetic leather, PU leather, PVC artificial leather, leather wool, semi-finished goods, various leather fabrics, etc. can be engraved with a laser engraving machine.

 

6. Cardboard for Laser Cutting

When compared to other materials, cardboard has a significant cost advantage. Because of its widespread use in the global packaging industry, its cost as a raw material is low. Cardboard is lightweight, quick to transport, and inexpensive. In terms of laser cutting, corrugated cardboard's unique internal structure allows it to be cut quickly, making it one of the materials with the lowest cost of laser cutting time.

 

 

What Materials Should Not be Cut with a Laser Cutter?

A laser engraving machine can cut wood, paper, cork, and some plastics and other materials. Wood, cardboard, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, marble, stone, ceramic tile, and glass can all be laser engraved.

However, some materials should not be laser cut or engraved. These materials will not only emit a large number of harmful substances that will harm your body during the laser engraving process, but their flammability will cause fires and other safety incidents, endangering your safety and damaging your equipment.

Furthermore, the cutting ability of these materials is subpar. To avoid mishaps, keep in mind that the following materials are not suitable for laser cutting and engraving. 

For materials that cannot be cut or carved, please refer to our blog: What Materials cannot be Cut by Laser Machine?

1. PVC

2. PVB

3. Polycarbonate

4. Phenolic Resins

5. Fluoriane(Teflon, PTFE, etc.)

 

Laser Cutter Settings for Different Materials

 

Wattage

Parameter Settings

1/16 in

1/8 in

1/4 in

1/2 in

3/4 in

1 in

1.2 in

1.4 in

material

60w

Speed (mm/s)

16

12

6

4

2

 

 

 

Baltic Birch Plywood

Power

20%

25%

32%

45%

50%

 

 

 

80w

Speed (mm/s)

25

12

7

5

4

3

 

 

Power

20%

25%

30%

35%

43%

47%

 

 

100w

Speed (mm/s)

30

15

7

6

5

4

2

 

Power

20%

25%

28%

35%

40%

45%

55%

 

130w

Speed (mm/s)

35

16

8

7

6

5

3

2

Power

18%

25%

27%

32%

37%

42%

47%

55%

150w

Speed (mm/s)

40

17

9

8

7

6

4

2

Power

18%

24%

26%

30%

35%

40%

45%

52%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60w

Speed (mm/s)

20

13

4

 

 

 

 

 

Leather

 

Power

20%

28%

35%

 

 

 

 

 

80w

Speed (mm/s)

25

18

6

4

 

 

 

 

 

Power

18%

28%

32%

40%

 

 

 

 

100w

Speed (mm/s)

35

23

8

5

 

 

 

 

 

Power

18%

25%

30%

38%

 

 

 

 

130w

Speed (mm/s)

40

25

9

6

 

 

 

 

 

Power

17%

24%

28%

37%

 

 

 

 

150w

Speed (mm/s)

45

26

10

7

 

 

 

 

 

Power

17%

23%

27%

35%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

A laser machine can cut a wide variety of materials. We've gone over some of the most common materials that can be laser cut, so you can choose them with confidence for your projects. We hope that this article has helped you choose the right material and its optimal settings.