This is the "Will It Cut on the Laser" thread...

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Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 18, 2011, 3:48:58 PM8/18/11
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I figured this would be a good place for people who are curious about what can/can't be cut on the laser cutter to post questions (and answers) about materials.

I just looked up the MSDS for Coroplast, and it turns out it's a polypropylene polymer.  Perfectly safe to cut on the laser cutter.  If it's corrugated coroplast, you can mark it (very low power raster), but you should not try to deeply engrave it due to all the open space in the middle of the plastic.   

So:

Cutting: YES
Deep Etch: NO
Marking: YES

Jerry Rutherford

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Aug 18, 2011, 5:32:48 PM8/18/11
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I'll update my spreadsheet and send it to you... might be helpful.

Like... magnesium might be a bad idea... :-o

Askjerry... everyone else does.
Visit me online at http://askjerry.info
See my projects, video links, tutorials, and blog today.



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Sean Dunn

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Aug 18, 2011, 5:38:10 PM8/18/11
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How about cotton fabric, polyester, leather, vinyl, mirrored glass, chromed metal, ceramic tile?

Just some random art materials I could think of. 

I hope that, when finished, the materials/capabilities matrix will go on the wall next to the laser as well as the website?

Brandon Wiley

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Aug 18, 2011, 5:52:26 PM8/18/11
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I'm interested in making some sort of shoes with the laser cutter. I saw on ponoko that they can laser cut leather, foam, felt, cork, and silicone rubber. But the rubber seemed maybe too soft for shoe soles. Can our laser cutter cut all of these same materials? And is there a type of rubber better suited for shoe soles that it can also cut?

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Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:12:53 PM8/18/11
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Cotton fabric:

Cut : YES (tends to char, might fray a bit on the edges)
Engrave : YES (low power, leaves a fuzzy white surface, but weakens the threads)
mark : NO (trying to make fine lines and mark cotton just tends to make it fall apart)

Polyester:

Cut : YES (tends to melt a bit on the edges, and you really have to watch the power)
Engrave : NO (melts, catches on fire)
mark : NO

Leather :

Cut : YES (thin leather cuts well, but you can ramp it up to 4mm.  It does char/smoke)
Engrave : YES (holy cow, it works REALLY well for engraving)
mark : YES (Thick leather does take vector marking very nicely)

Chromed metal:

Cut : NO (Chrome is one of the hardest materials known to man)
Engrave : NO (Sorry, again, it's too hard, and too high temperature to engrave into)
Mark : YES ( with cerimark spray or paste, you can make a nice dark black mark on Chrome)

Ceramic Tile:

Cut : NO ( Can't cut stone with a laser, and a tile is basically glass on stone )
Engrave : YES ( it leaves a whitish mark.  works best on dark tiles )
Mark : YES ( With cerimark spray, you can leave a dark black mark on Tile)

Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:16:00 PM8/18/11
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Felt :

Cut : YES
Engrave : NO (catches fire)
Mark : NO (catches fire)

Foam :

"It depends" -- Styrofoam has to be avoided, as do many other kinds of foam that can melt and catch fire. There are a few that cut pretty well when they are thin, which we'll have to explore more, and carefully.

Cork :

CUT : Yes!  Thin cork cuts as well, if not better, than wood
Engrave : YES.  Cork engraves well
mark : YES, Cork will take a vector mark, although it might be pretty light and hard to see

Silicone Rubber:

Silicone is one of the most heat-absorbent rubbery materials.  It's pretty soft, but has no chlorine and does take well to the laser cutter in thin sheets at max power. 

CUT: Yes, but it will melt and get sticky on the edges
Engrave : Nope.  Not reccomended
Mark : Nope.  Not reccomended

Sean Dunn

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:33:25 PM8/18/11
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Hmm... There seem to be instances online of lasers cutting granite, tile, and marble. Are those lasers just higher power than ours?

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From: Martin Bogomolni <marti...@gmail.com>
To: austin-ha...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2011 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: [austin-hacker-space] This is the "Will It Cut on the Laser" thread...

Andrew Harris

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:36:58 PM8/18/11
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Been curious about laser cutting duct tape or gorilla tape. What kind
of plastic is that, does anyone know?

Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:48:00 PM8/18/11
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yep.. 1000+ watt industrial lasers


Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 18, 2011, 6:50:23 PM8/18/11
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Duct Tape:

"it depends"

Many duct tapes are PVC tape with a cloth backing and rubber-based glue. PVC should not be cut, and is on the Forbidden list.

On the other hand, there are cloth tapes 'gaffer' and other names which are made from natural fibers. Those are fine.

Ardie Scott Powell

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Aug 18, 2011, 8:31:42 PM8/18/11
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1.22 JIGGA-WATTS! It takes more power to cut Gorilla than to travel
through time!

Jerry Rutherford

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Aug 19, 2011, 1:47:31 AM8/19/11
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It's not just power but the wavelength of the light.
We are running a 10,640 nm wavelength whereas a YAG is 1,064 nm wavelength.

An IR laser won't cut aluminum foil... but a YAG will burrow through 1/4 inch of aluminum... power variation comes into play as well... but not as much as frequency and absorption rates. The YAG is 1/10 the size of the IR... so it really impacts metal and other non-organic materials... IR... not so much.


Askjerry... everyone else does.
Visit me online at http://askjerry.info
See my projects, video links, tutorials, and blog today.



Ardie Scott Powell

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Aug 19, 2011, 5:03:31 AM8/19/11
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How about "laminate" flooring material?

Paul Bonser

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Aug 19, 2011, 8:00:03 AM8/19/11
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Yes, I was wondering about that as well. What are those stick-on floor tiles in the mezanine made of, and can we etch or cut them?

On Aug 19, 2011 4:03 AM, "Ardie Scott Powell" <scottpo...@gmail.com> wrote:
> How about "laminate" flooring material?

Martin Bogomolni

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Aug 19, 2011, 9:13:48 AM8/19/11
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sorry, no.   most of them are made of:

PolyVinylChloride (PVC)

David Mitchell

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Aug 19, 2011, 11:14:01 AM8/19/11
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The peel & stick tiles are PVC, but the pergo / laminate flooring is (according to wikipedia) " usually composed of melamine resin and fiber board materials" and looks like it CAN be cut. Might be too thick though, I think mine is about a half-inch thick .

I have a couple boxes of it and would love to try sometime if it's acceptable. Even if we can't cut it (maybe in two passes?) I bet you could definitely engrave it.

-David

HanniGarbs

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Sep 7, 2011, 8:31:18 AM9/7/11
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Okay, here's the specific thing I'm looking to engrave:
http://www.mcmaster.com/#petri-dishes/=dyhhys

Want to have some custom holders for game pieces in Pandemic, Power
Grid, etc.

"You'll find many uses for these clear, polystyrene sterile dishes.
Max. temperature is 158° F."

Just got these in the mail yesterday - the plastic is quite thin (and,
after handling all that acrylic last night, I hope I have a good idea
of typical weight, etc.)

The other thing I'd like to engrave is glass test tubes. I know we
can engrave glass - and I recall brief mentions of abilities to
engrave curved surfaces in class - but I have a feeling there's more
to this than meets the eye. (Curse you, person who got the
Transformers theme song stuck in my head last night!) Would that be
the kind of thing covered in the advanced laser cutter class?

Hannah


On Aug 19, 10:14 am, David Mitchell <gossip...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The peel & stick tiles are PVC, but the pergo / laminate flooring is
> (according to wikipedia) " usually composed of melamine
> resin<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine>and fiber board materials"
> and looks like it CAN be cut. Might be too thick
> though, I think mine is about a half-inch thick .
>
> I have a couple boxes of it and would love to try sometime if it's
> acceptable. Even if we can't cut it (maybe in two passes?) I bet you could
> definitely engrave it.
>
> -David
>
> On Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 8:13 AM, Martin Bogomolni <martinb...@gmail.com>wrote:
>
>
>
> > sorry, no.   most of them are made of:
>
> > PolyVinylChloride (PVC)
>
> > On Aug 19, 2011, at 7:00 AM, Paul Bonser <mister...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Yes, I was wondering about that as well. What are those stick-on floor
> > tiles in the mezanine made of, and can we etch or cut them?
> > On Aug 19, 2011 4:03 AM, "Ardie Scott Powell" < <scottpowell...@gmail.com>
> > scottpowell...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > How about "laminate" flooring material?
>
> > > --
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HanniGarbs

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Sep 7, 2011, 8:39:59 AM9/7/11
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After looking over the Wiki (thanks for the link, David!) - I note
that polystyrene FOAM is a definite no-go. However, this is decidedly
not foam. However, however, I have a sincere desire to not catch the
laser cutter on fire. The "max temperature" notation on McMaster-
Carr's website has me thinking "find a new way to do what you want to
do, Hannah" - so, I think that's what I'll do. Maybe find the
thinnest acrylic and make cool, engraved drop-in circles that fit
precisely in the bottom of the petri dishes.

This does, however, give me an opportunity to plug www.mcmaster.com -
if you don't know about them (I hadn't heard about this site 'til my
engineer friends told me, but then, many of you guys ARE my new
engineer friends!), they have the most random assortment of THINGS
available online. Their descriptions are very thorough and their
prices seem entirely reasonable. Especially useful if you're looking
for a very specific widget - you can call them with measurements and
they'll help you find it.

Cheers!
Hannah

On Sep 7, 7:31 am, HanniGarbs <millie.j...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Okay, here's the specific thing I'm looking to engrave:http://www.mcmaster.com/#petri-dishes/=dyhhys
>
> Want to have some custom holders for game pieces in Pandemic, Power
> Grid, etc.
>
> "You'll find many uses for these clear, polystyrene sterile dishes.
> Max. temperature is 158° F."
>
> Just got these in the mail yesterday - the plastic is quite thin (and,
> after handling all that acrylic last night, I hope I have a good idea
> of typical weight, etc.)
>
> The other thing I'd like to engrave is glass test tubes.  I know we
> can engrave glass - and I recall brief mentions of abilities to
> engrave curved surfaces in class - but I have a feeling there's more
> to this than meets the eye.  (Curse you, person who got the
> Transformers theme song stuck in my head last night!)  Would that be
> the kind of thing covered in the advanced laser cutter class?
>
> Hannah
>
> On Aug 19, 10:14 am, David Mitchell <gossip...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > The peel & stick tiles are PVC, but the pergo / laminate flooring is
> > (according to wikipedia) " usually composed of melamine
> > resin<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine>and fiber board materials"
> > and looks like it CAN becut. Might be too thick
> > though, I think mine is about a half-inch thick .
>
> > I have a couple boxes of it and would love to try sometime if it's
> > acceptable. Even if we can'tcutit (maybe in two passes?) I bet you could
> > >http://groups.google.com/group/austin-hacker-space-Hide quoted text -
>
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Eric Adams

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Sep 8, 2011, 1:14:22 PM9/8/11
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Any word on brushed aluminum or other thumb drive materials? ;)

David Mitchell

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Sep 8, 2011, 1:59:38 PM9/8/11
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I bet the Cermark would work well on aluminum thumb drives..

This isnt the same thing, but I called Amerimax (they make the cheap
aluminum flashing available at Lowes and Home Depot ) to ask what the
clear coating was, and was told it is "wax based". it might smoke some
but I doubt think it would pose a fire or fume risk.. My previous
experience with this stuff was by scratching really fine lines on it
with a 12-penny nail using my Cricut before etching with the metal
salt solution. The problem was, the lines were just too fine to be
very useful (like thin hair), and also, the coating was light enough
that there were always a few fine scratches from handling.

Id probably either live with it and call it artistic inherent to the
material ;) Or maybe spray another thin coat of regular clear or other
color spray paint before lasering...

Martin Bogomolni

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Sep 8, 2011, 4:17:28 PM9/8/11
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You can mark -anodized- aluminum. Brushed aluminum will not take
much of a mark. You'd need to do a second process to get some
aluminum oxide layer on the top.

-M

On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 12:14 PM, Eric Adams <ada...@gmail.com> wrote:

David Mitchell

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Sep 8, 2011, 5:02:04 PM9/8/11
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Sooooooo... Could you put a clean piece of aluminum in a weak metal
salt etch to be made black all-over, then burn off the coating back to
shiny with the laser, eliminating the whole "etch mask" stage?

thanks
David

Martin Bogomolni

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Sep 8, 2011, 5:23:35 PM9/8/11
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You might be able to. I'm assuming the black is just an oxide?

-M

Danny Miller

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Sep 8, 2011, 8:34:08 PM9/8/11
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Yes but I don't know of any solutions which make a durable black coating
on aluminum. There are some which make it greyish, but it's a
physically weak oxide and comes off pretty fast with handling.
Anodizing is really the thing there. And DIY anodizing actually isn't
impossible, not by any means.

Danny

>>>>>> The peel& stick tiles are PVC, but the pergo / laminate flooring is

EBo

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Sep 8, 2011, 10:28:34 PM9/8/11
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I do not have experience with the following products but found some
reference on the web. As a note, I used to know a guy back in Phoenix
that did his own anodizing all the time:

http://w3.uwyo.edu/~metal/anodizing.html

Rit dye:

Rit is a standard wool dye, which can be purchased at any grocery
store. This method is both inexpensive and offers a wide variety of
colors. The drawbacks are that Rit, an organic dye, is not light fast,
and will fade in direct sunlight.

With Rit, simply prepare a bath of about 50ml/litre at about 70 degrees
celsius. One hour minimum is required, with the preferable duration
matching the anodization time.

Black MLW:

Black MLW can be purchased from Sandoz Chemical (my contact was Ron
Rupple (214) 423-1674, the sales rep for texas. The company is based at
(704) 331-7000.) The price is between $15/lb and $60/lb (don't have an
exact quote, but this is the range of prices for all of their black
dyes). Small test quantities can be obtained.

Black MLW is favorable because it is a) light fast in the visible
(being inorganic), and b) a rather flat black. It's drawbacks are
expense (a minimum order is 5 lbs, which is an awful lot of dye), and
requires special working procedures (the dust is hazardous to the
lungs).

Black MLW is, however, simpler, and more convenient, to use. The
temperature should be between 51 and 60 degrees C. The duration being
5-10 minutes depending on quality of blackness desired. The
concentration (keep this in mind before ordering 5+ pounds) is 10
grams/litre.

Hope that helps.

EBo --

Martin Bogomolni

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Sep 8, 2011, 11:13:47 PM9/8/11
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Nice write-up and illustrations of the anodization process:

http://www.focuser.com/anodize.html

David Mitchell

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Sep 9, 2011, 1:48:42 AM9/9/11
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The pieces I already etched in the weak metal salt solution seem to
have a quite durable, finely "pebbly", gray/black coating on them with
a sort of "crystalline" look. I'll try lasering the black part of one
and see what happens.

-David

Brandon Wiley

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Sep 17, 2011, 11:24:25 PM9/17/11
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I was showing off my laser cut wooden I Ching hexagonal tiles (I'll bring them to an open house sometime soon) to some artist friends and they thought of some other materials that they'd like to laser etch/cut (mainly etch) that haven't come up before on the list: bone, feather, leaves, and stacks of paper (instead of individual sheets, like for instance cutting a secret compartment in a book). Please let me know if these would work so that I can pass that information along to future potential members.

There were also some less serious suggestions but I thought I'd ask anyway because they'll probably come up in conversation again: meat, bread, ice. I figured that ice would be possible but not allowed because of dripping water, but that maybe dry ice would be okay.

Jerry Rutherford

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Sep 18, 2011, 1:01:52 AM9/18/11
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Bone : Cut No, Engrave Yes
Feather: Cut Yes, Engrave Yes - Low power, high speed.
Leaves: Cut Yes, Engrave Yes... if green and not dry... otherwise you have a bonfire.
Stacks of paper: After about 3 sheets they burn and stain black/brown
Meat: Technically you can engrave it... but you have never smelled anything so awful in your life.
Ice: Just no.
Dry Ice: Hell no.
Bread: Cut, yeah... but not great. Engrave... well... toast is more the word... low power low speed.


Askjerry... everyone else does.
Visit me online at http://askjerry.info
See my projects, video links, tutorials, and blog today.



On Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 11:24 PM, Brandon Wiley <bra...@blanu.net> wrote:

I was showing off my laser cut wooden I Ching hexagonal tiles (I'll bring them to an open house sometime soon) to some artist friends and they thought of some other materials that they'd like to laser etch/cut (mainly etch) that haven't come up before on the list: bone, feather, leaves, and stacks of paper (instead of individual sheets, like for instance cutting a secret compartment in a book). Please let me know if these would work so that I can pass that information along to future potential members.

There were also some less serious suggestions but I thought I'd ask anyway because they'll probably come up in conversation again: meat, bread, ice. I figured that ice would be possible but not allowed because of dripping water, but that maybe dry ice would be okay.

Martin Bogomolni

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Sep 18, 2011, 2:20:09 AM9/18/11
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Bone : Etch yes, cut only if it's quite thin (1/16" or so) (same rules
as mother-of-pearl)

Feather : Cuts beautifully, smells awful You can even cut shapes into
the pinfeathers

Leaves: Dry leaves are a bit dangerous. Low, low, low power. Wet
leaves have different issues.

Paper: Stacks should be cut individually then assembled.

Martin Bogomolni

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Sep 18, 2011, 2:23:04 AM9/18/11
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Quick note about the ice:

This laser is a CO2 laser, that produces intense energy in the
infrared spectrum. When it hits ice, it doesn't just make steam...
where the beam hits, the water instantaneously decomposes into
hydrogen and oxygen (HHO) and just as rapidly -burns- itself back into
water after being ignited by the slightly unfocused laser beam above
the cutting range.

(this is the same thing that happens to wood, it decomposes the wood
the same way a gassifier would)

So, no ice/water. As Jerry said "Just no."

-M

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