Laser infobase

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We should keep a list of good sources of materials to use in the laser. We should ALSO keep a good list of configuration settings to get specific results with various materials.


Laserable materials sources

Please add more materials!

Sources of acrylic sheeting:

Sources of wood sheet for cutting:

A lot of laser projects require screws to hold the project together (project cases, mechanical devices, etc). This is one of many sites that has socket head cap screws which look sexy and work well:

Things you should not put in the laser cutter

Copyright / Attribution Notice:
A large part of the following content was copied from Noisebridge who had themselves copied this from the ATX Hackerspace wiki. The original source can be found here:

WARNING: Because many plastics are dangerous to cut, it is important to know what kind you are planning to use. Make has a How-To for identifying unknown plastics with a simple process.

Material DANGER! Cause/Consequence
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather/Moleskine notebooks Emits pure chlorine gas when cut! Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, cause the metal of the machine to corrode, and ruin the motion control system.
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/Lexan Cut very poorly, discolor, catch fire Polycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation! This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting. It creates long stringy clouds of soot that float up, ruin the optics and mess up the machine.
ABS Emits cyanide gas and tends to melt ABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt). (Also toxic)
HDPE/milk bottle plastic Catches fire and melts It melts. It gets gooey. Don't use it.
PolyStyrene Foam Catches fire It catches fire, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
PolyPropylene Foam Catches fire Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
Fiberglass Emits fumes It's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Coated Carbon Fiber Emits noxious fumes A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.
Any powder the compressed air will blow it away
Bare metal
Butane lighters
Gasoline or other liquids

Laser settings

Imagine you want to cut through stickers but leave the backing intact. What power and dpi did you use for this last time? Lets keep that info here!

Much of this is directly stolen from NYC Resistor's laser page!

Material Focus* Vector Raster Notes
Speed Power Freq Speed Power DPI
Bainbridge board "172" 45 60 500 Slot width ~1.28mm
Card Stock 110 lb 62 22 2500 100 5
Cardboard 1/8" 30 60 500 50 15 Conservative, try a speed of 35 or 40
Double-layer 1/4" 20 60 500
Foam Core
Fire risk--polystyrene foam
35 100 5000 Previously 60/90/2500 - didn't cut all the way through.
Staples Sticker Paper 100 7 500 Cuts through sticker but not backing
USPS thin envelope 95 20 500
Fabriano 140lbs Watercolor Paper 100 60 Etches in very well, leaving clean paper underneath
Material Focus* Vector Raster Notes
Speed Power Freq Speed Power DPI
Cork 3/32" +2 70 100 5000 Works great. McMaster #9487K2
Luan 1/8 +2 30 100 5000 Purchased from Dyke's Lumber off 3rd Avenue (speed of 25 might work better)
Luan 1/4 +2 5 100 5000 Two passes. Purchased from Dyke's Lumber off 3rd Avenue - I THINK THIS IS WRONG - RB
Luan 1/4 +2 16-18 100 5000 I got much better results with 16-18% speed, +2 focus, one pass on 12 Feb 2013 - but it left some attached fibers on the back side. A second quick pass at +5 maybe? - RB
Poplar wood 1/4" 17 100 500 Not sure about the frequency, seems to work at lower ones too
MakerBot wood 5 mm 7 100 500 Manual focus is key. Move the bed up until the metal focusing thing just touches the plywood surface. Then move the bed up by pressing the Up button five times. Hit Reset and then Go. Rock! Then move the bed up another five pushes and run again at 50% speed.
Plywood, birch, 1/8" 25 60 80% Current even 1/8" plywood takes two passes. Some charring.
Plywood, birch, 1/8" 15 100 100% Current On the new 45W tube, 1/8" plywood, one pass, easily cuts through with no flames or charring, could probably go up to 20% speed
Plywood, birch, 1/4" 12 100 100% Current 18 70 focused just below the surface of the wood for vector, on surface for raster
Material Focus* Vector Raster Notes
Speed Power Freq Speed Power DPI
Acetal 0.02" White Sheeting 20 60 500 Needs to be taped absolutely flat to cutting sheet, otherwise it won't cut through, higher settings incinerate the delrin.
Acetal 0.93" Black 8 100 500 Mcmaster, Delrin 150
Acetal 3/16" 6 100 500
Acetal 3/16" 10 100 500 Two passes with these settings works well
Acetal black, etching 100 70 300 engraves 0.006" deep on black acetal
100 100 300 engraves 0.009"
60 100 300 engraves 0.010"
10 100 300 engraves 0.020"
7 100 300 engraves 0.025"
5 100 300 engraves 0.033"
3 100 300 engraves 0.045", transient flames visible
2 100 300 engraves 0.060", transient flames visible
Acetal 5 mm" 3 100 500
Acrylic (clear) 1/16" 22 100 This is too slow; the plastic is cut but it also has discoloration from being slightly burned.
Acrylic (color) 1/8" 12 100 5000 100 35 600 (SDC: 12 is fine for vector) Copied engraving settings from Nintendo DS - tested on colored acrylic, worked great
Acrylic (clear) 1/4" 8 100 5000 Book says 4%, 8% seems perfect after the new tube
30 80 300 engraves 0.015" deep on clear acrylic
30 100 300 engraves 0.02" deep at 1'06" per sq in
20 100 300 engraves 0.03" deep
10 100 300 engraves 0.05" deep at 3'00" per sq in
5 100 300 engraves 0.09" deep at 5'44" per sq in
Acrylic (clear) 5 mm 7 100 5000
ABS - Hammond MFG 1553D Enclosure 12 100 5000 100 65 600 Raster settings a work in progress, based on acrylic; 75 too much for busy bitmaps, 55 too little detail. Weird results 'cuz of textured finish on enclosure
HDPE 1/8" 40 100 auto Takes about 4 passes, keeps melting together
Kapton 0.005" The settings for 4 mil Mylar only cut part way through
Mylar 0.005" 100 15 5000 Make sure the aluminum side is down.
Polyethylene foam 2.2 lb 1/4" 60 100 5000 (via kellbot) [1]
Material Focus* Vector Raster Notes
Speed Power Freq Speed Power DPI
Chocolate 100 30 300 It melts. Don't cut! (via Squid Labs)
Compressed Sponge 100 100 1000
Leather (1-2mm) 40 50 1000 Leather can be pressed by ironing the backside with a layer of tissue between the iron and the leather. Masking tape on the backside also helps it lay flat. Smells bad.
Leather (3-4mm) 40 50 1000 Needs two passes. Depending on the tanning process, you may have burned edges.
Neoprene (2mm) 30 100 1000 Like BUTTAH. Not sure about toxicity. We'll see if I survive.
Cotton (will darken) 60 20 200
Buffalo Horn (5mm) 6 100 5000 Same settings as 1/4" acrylic, depending on depth, may work faster speed, smells pretty awful
HP Laptop - ETCH 100 23 2500 Vector etch pattern, probably could have been slightly lower-power
iPhone rev 1.0 100 40 600
Mini Moleskins ( cardboard brown ) 100 69 600
Nintendo DS 1st Ed. 100 35 600
Quartz(?) rocks 20 100
Acrylic felt (black) 40 50 800 Felt is porous; needed a cardboard or masking tape backing so the laser could focus. Also, these settings cut a wide kerf. Experimenter recommends a faster speed (maybe 100) and lower power. May help to iron the felt with a fabric iron first, so it's nice and flat.
100% Wool felt (beige) 40 50 800 May help to iron the felt with a fabric iron first, so it's nice and flat, then aid focus and flatness by applying masking tape to the back of the felt. Tape also prevents burn schmutz from sticking to felt. Smells nasty, bring a ziplock bag to transfer your cutouts into.
NiAg 752 "german silver" Doesn't work at all, even for etching. save yourself from the frustration :P
Speedball Speedy-Cut Easy (rubber stamps) 80 100 Very noxious, would not cut again. Created large amounts of debris, not good. Otherwise cutting was good, 2 passes at these settings.
Low-oder laserable rubber (rubber stamps) 50 100 Odor is tolerable but very noticeable. Rastering for stamp making is good (good depth), 1 pass. Do not vector cut, use scissors.
Mirror ~ glass side 35 100 Do not vector cut. Raster makes pretty pictures on glass.
iPhone5 90 100 Did 3 passes at these settings, could have probably done 40% speed in 1 pass as the iPhone 1 listed up above...
Denim 100 18 22 Iron first. For vector use speed 100%, pwr? Different types of denim react differently, test first on less important piece.


For 1/8" Birch, average kerf is ~0.233mm or ~0.009in

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