Laser cutting and engraving machines open up several avenues for designers to explore their creativity. Team these machines up with the appropriate laser cutting materials, and the possibilities are endless. However, every material reacts and adjusts differently to laser technology. If you know what to expect from each type of material, you will make a prudent choice according to your design and have the desired outcome. In this article, we take a look at the best materials for laser cutting –
Laser Cut Acrylic:
Also popular by its trade name – Plexiglass, acrylic is popular among different laser cutting materials. It is a rigid material with a premium, glossy finish and is available in many colours. They are ideal for making signboards and displays but are also being used nowadays use to make jewellery, ornamentations, and decorative pieces. Laser engraving and cutting are best for acrylic because the process gives it a smooth, flame polished edge. Acrylic tends to release toxic fumes when heated so it is best to exercise caution when working with it.
Laser Cut Aluminium Sheet:
Metal sheet laser cutting is difficult to do. Most metals, including aluminium sheets, are not suited to be ideal laser cutting materials. They are highly reflective and require very high powered laser beams. Metals should be restricted only to engravings and etchings. Fibre lasers are better to work with, in such cases, than CO2 ones. Even then, it is difficult to get well-defined markings on metal because they absorb heat and reduce the laser beam’s ability to vaporize the medium.
Laser Cut Fabric:
Most natural fabrics make for excellent laser cutting materials. They are also good to engrave upon. The laser cutting machines need to be at high speed and low power settings to make sure they don’t cut through too much material. Fabrics like fleece, microfiber, denim, polyester, cotton, silk, and felt can be cut and engraved nicely even though they tend to burn a bit along the edges. Synthetics other than polyester, like nylon and spandex, should never be used for laser cutting because they are potentially hazardous.
Laser Cut Glass:
Counted among the more sturdy and resistant laser cutting materials, glass can be engraved, if not cut through, easily, if there is even the slightest of curvature to its surface. The heat from the laser causes air and water trapped in the glass to expand and fracture at a microscopic level, giving it a frosted look. Engraved glass makes for classy signage, unique crockery, and quirky packaging containers for food and cosmetic products. Once laser cut, the glass becomes stronger and more resistant to impact than normal glass since it now has fewer impurities.
Laser Cut Leather:
Popular for making shoes, bags, wallets, and other accessories leather is a top choice among laser cutting materials. Its soft yet durable nature makes it an interesting medium to work with. Laser cutting allows designers to make intricate patterns and etches on leather, and even make cut-through designs when required. Because it is a soft material, the precision of the laser allows for creating neat designs without causing any damage.
Laser Cut Plywood:
Being one of the few natural laser cutting materials, wood is not uniform in its constitution. Different kinds of wood differ in thickness, resilience, and resin content. Plywood tends to contain glue that prevents clean, defined cuts. Hence, you should always make sure to buy plywood which is specifically meant for laser cutting. It is one of the cheaper varieties of wood and so is suitable for use by those new to laser cutting materials. You should also check the thickness of the plywood based on whether you plan to engrave designs or cut them out.
Laser Cut Wood Panel:
Blocks or panels of hardwood are yet another favourite among natural laser cutting materials for the versatility they offer. Beginners and even professionals prefer this material to engrave designs and photographs, cut out pieces to assemble, make nameplates, etc. You can use most kinds of wood on a laser cutter. All you have to do is check the thickness to ensure it meets your needs. Thicker pieces are good for engravings while thinner ones are better for cutting all the way through. Also, wood contains resins that are prone to catching fire so you must exercise caution while using it with a laser cutter.
Laser Cut Stencils:
Stencils made out of suitable laser cutting materials make life easier for designers by eliminating the need to create the same patterns repeatedly. Any good laser cutter for wood and metal can work with stencils to reproduce the specific design.
Laser Cut Brass Sheet:
Yet another metal counted the more difficult to handle laser cutting materials, bare brass cannot be engraved because it is highly reflective. The metal needs to be coated for a laser to work on it. A layer of lacquer is applied to the brass, and the lacquer is then painted over, before exposing it to the laser. When engraved, the laser beam ablates the paint and the lacquer and exposes the brass beneath, giving the material a highly defined finish. The lacquer also prevents the brass from oxidizing and getting discoloured, and keeps it shiny for a long time.
Laser Cut PVC Sheet:
Though plastics are popular as laser cutting materials, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheets are a slight exception to the norm. They can be cut through with laser beams, but the process created a lot of toxic fumes and hydrochloric acid as by-products. It also corrodes the laser system of the machine and can be detrimental to the health of the one operating it.
We, at DXTECH, do all kinds of laser cutting starting from CO2 laser cutting metal and fibre laser cutting metal, all the way to glass and leather works. You can reach out to us for any laser cutting work that you need to get done and we will be happy to assist you. Our team can also help you choose the ideal laser cutting materials for your designs and make sure you get the best results.