The Makery

First Timer’s Guide – Laser Cutter

What is it?

Full Spectrum Pro 20 x 12 Laser: The official information

What can I do?

  • Cutting
    • Can cut up to ¼” thick material
    • Can only cut through specific materials covered below
  • Engraving
    • Engrave most materials covered below

What do I need?

  • For Cutting
    • .svg file is preferred
      • Can take most other file formats from other CAD and CAM programs
    • Some material from the list below
  • For Engraving
    • Any picture format should work
      • The less pixelated, the better (Higher quality pictures = better results)
    • Some material from the list below

What materials can I use?

Some of the most commonly used materials are woods, acrylics, card stocks, rubber stamp for engraving, etc.

  • Delrin – a strong plastic more shatter resistant than acrylic. Delrin cuts nicely with a CO2 laser but a bit slower than acrylic. A 90w Pro Series is recommended for Delrin cutting.-Grip tape or sand paper – notoriously difficult to cut with blades as they rapidly dull any blade they touch. However, laser cutting grip tape is a great job for a laser.
  • Denim, leather and fabrics – most can be cut, thicker fabrics are well-suited to receive engravings.
  • Card stock and balsa wood- for model makers, architects or anyone who needs to create elaborately cut or repetitive shapes for models, or presentations.
  • Wood – cut shapes from flat wood sheets (up to 1/4″ thick with 40w/45w, 1/2″ with 90w) that the world’s best scroll saw artist would envy
  • Acrylic – now comes in just about every shade, color, tint, finish you can think of (see inventables.com to buy). Cuts like a dream on our lasers with a nice flame polished edge because our lasers issue a continuous beam during vector mode.
  • Glass – leaves a frosted appearance like a glass etching cream.

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT:

While the laser can cut or engrave … SOME MATERIALS SHOULD NOT BE CUT OR ENGRAVED.

  • Any and all material containing Chlorine:
  • Vinyl and PVC (Cintra) will product a corrosive gas – both contain chlorine.
  • Polycarbonate (PC, Lexan) will produce a black and yellow gas that will make you sick to your stomach.
  • Fiberglass or Printed circuit boards (FR4, G10, anything resin-based)
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Cutting ABS yields a fair result, but leaves a bad smell that is hard to get out of your nose.

Where to buy materials?

  • Online: Amazon, home improvement stores, Goodwill or other secondhand stores like Elmhurst Memorial’s Pink Elephant Resale Shop are a great source for inexpensive glass and wood items.

Elmhurst Public Library does not endorse nor profit from these links. These are suggestions of where you can purchase items to use in the Makery but are by no means an exhaustive list.