Laser cutters have gained a lot of popularity over the last years. They can efficiently and safely cut a variety of different material. They are easy-to-use by both professionals and homeowners and they are nowadays, quite affordable, as well. Their increased popularity has also increased the need for bringing new cutting materials to the market. MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard), in particular, is among the most sought-after materials to cut with a laser cutter.
Can you cut MDF with a laser cutter? The answer to that question is simple enough.
No, you should not cut MDF with a laser cutter, but there are still many people who do.
In fact. using a laser cutter requires materials with a specific set of characteristics.
MDF doesn’t have those characteristics due to what it’s made of. Made up of fiber, wax, and glue makes MDF potentially flammable and toxic for laser cutting and should never be used.
What other materials can you cut with a laser cutter?
A laser cutter can be safely used to cut a series of materials. To start with, it can cut different types of wood. The only exception is very resinous woods that are prone to catching fire. Cork can also be cut but the quality of the final cut depends a lot on the quality of the cork.
The best materials for a laser cutter are the following: acrylic, plexiglass, and PMMA. All of those materials cut smoothly and cleanly with a laser cutter, leaving a beautifully polished edge.
Leather can also be cut provided that it’s thinner than a belt. Cotton, felt and cloth are also good options, however, you should avoid using laser cutters on plastic-coated cloth.
Carbon fiber mats can be cut, with slow and careful motions.
Paper is a particularly easy material that can be cut perfectly with a laser cutter.
Very thin polycarbonate can also be cut, but there is always the danger of discoloring.
Materials to avoid cutting with a laser cutter
Apart from MDF, there are other materials you should keep away from a laser cutter.
PVC should be avoided at any cost, since it can emit large quantities of chlorine gas when cut.
Thick polycarbonate is another poor choice for laser cutting. This material may catch fire while being cut and it can discolor easily, as well.
ABS tends to melt when a laser cutter is used upon it and the danger of it catching fire is pretty high. Cutting ABS plastic can also emit hydrogen cyanide which is really unsafe for the human body.
Epoxy is a resin that cannot be cut with a laser cutter. If you try to cut it, the result will be the emission of toxic fumes, like cyanide. Apart from Epoxy itself, items coated in Epoxy should also be avoided.
Fiberglass, that is actually a combination of glass and epoxy resin cannot be cut with a laser cutter. Coated carbon fiber is quite a complicated material, because its carbon fiber part can be cut with a laser cutter, but the whole coated nature of it makes things a bit difficult.
Laser cutters can make our lives easier since they can effectively cut a variety of different materials.
However, homeowners and professionals should be careful when it comes to choosing the type of material they will use with their laser cutter, since some of them may be unsuitable.
In every case, you should know that MDF can not be cut with a laser cutter.