Laser cutting is not a new technology, and many industries have utilized this fantastic technology. It is a technology that utilizes the laser to cut through different materials. The laser cutting technology is not only used by manufacturing companies, but also by small businesses, hobbyists, and learning institutions.
You can use laser cutting technology to perform different tasks from cutting through to etching metals. It is vital to consider what materials can a laser cutter cut through before using this technology.
Before you go into the key materials to cut or not to cut using a laser cutter, know the main types of lasers widely used in the market.
Laser Cutting Machine Types
Carbon Dioxide Lasers
These lasers are widely used because they use very low power. They are inexpensive, efficient, and can be used to engrave and cut through several metals.
It is a type of laser made form neodymium-doped crystals. The laser is used to cut through thicker materials thanks to its higher intensity.
These lasers are widely used for marking. They may compare to neodymium in terms of intensity, but require less maintenance.
From these three exclusive types of laser cutters, you may wonder, what is the power of the laser in wattage? The power of a laser may vary depending on what the laser is used for. Lasers used for engraving can use between 25 and 80 watts. Lasers that require high-speed applications require more than 80 watts to deliver quality results.
Using Laser Cutter- What to Know
The demand and popularity of affordable laser cutters can be attributed to their ability to cut through and etch a wide variety of materials. Before you cut each metal, there is one fundamental property to consider, and that has to be material thickness. With this in mind, here are the key materials to cut with a laser. Have a look:
You can cut through different types of wood, such as engineered woods, composite wood. However, avoid oily or resinous woods as they can easily catch fire.
2. Cardboard and paper
Easy to cut, and you don’t have to waste a lot of time cutting through.
Acrylic, Lucite, and PMMA all produce quality finish when laser cut.
The thickness of leather may make it seem hard to cut laser cutter can cut through if it’s thinner than a belt.
5. Cotton Cloth
Cuts well if not coated with plastic.
Laser Cutting Materials Chart
|Wood||Some Woods||Most Woods|
|Plastics||Some Plastics||Few Plastics|
|Metal||Not with Most Lasers||Some Metals|
|Leather||Some Lasers||Most Lasers|
UNSAFE and Hazardous Materials
Do Not Cut These Materials
Poly Vinyl Chloride emits chlorine gas and toxic fumes, and you should not attempt to laser cut it.
Polycarbonate or Lexan is very poor to laser cut and even catches fire. You will notice patches of discoloration as you cut it.
This material tends to melt as you laser cut, and does not cut well and will end up leaving a mess on your workstation.
4. Polystyrene and Polypropylene Foam
Easily catches fire as you laser cut and will turn to rock-hard pebbles if you keep burning.
Fiberglas is a blend of epoxy resin and glass. The fragile properties of glass make it hard to laser cut, and it emits fuses as you try to cut it through.
Popular materials you can etch or engrave include glass, ceramic tile, coated metal, Marble, and anodized aluminum.
With proper skill sets, you should not have any doubts using a laser cutter to cut through what materials you need for different uses. With a focused laser beam, you can cut through and engrave different patterns on a material of choice.
Ensure you thoroughly test each material you intend to laser cut or etch to rest assured of the best results.
Check out our Best Laser Cutters for Small Businesses.