Did you know that a laser cutter can do more than cut wood or metal? In fact, there are a host of laser materials that can be used for an amazing variety of laser cutting or engraving projects, many of which may be surprising and fun. While wood may initially be seen as a very easy material to find and use, some of these other materials are just as easy to find, and you'll quickly discover that they work very well with a high quality laser cutting machine. All of these laser cutter materials work well with your Muse or P-Series laser. Just make sure you have extra material or additional scrap material on hand to dial in the settings using patience as well as trial and error.
Let’s take a look at five fun laser materials you could be utilizing today for your next project.
Fun Laser Material #1: Paper
People are often surprised to hear a laser cutter can cut paper. It is not so much that a laser that can cut through wood can’t cut paper, but rather that it is surprising that a laser can be so delicate that it doesn’t destroy such thin material. The truth is, laser cutters are perfect for cutting patterns and images from paper with precision that is nearly impossible to achieve without a razor blade knife and a lot of patience.
Just make sure to set your laser at a very high speed with a very low power and either secure your paper to the work space or disable your air assist so the paper doesn't blow away.
Fun Laser Material #2: Fabric
Fabric includes materials like cloth, polyester, Gore-Tex, silk and literally dozens upon dozens more. Like paper, a laser cutter is fully capable of cutting fabric. Most commonly, this would be to cut patterns for clothing or costumes, but could also include stuffed animals and pillows. Some fabric works better than others so be ready to experiment. Just like with the paper, make sure you secure the fabric to your laser cutter workspace or disable the air assist so it doesn't blow away.
Note: Make sure you know the type of fabric you are working with. Some synthetic fabrics may produce harmful gasses when cut with the laser and are not safe to work with. If you are uncertain, make sure you contact the manufacturer and request a Material Safety Data Sheet (aka MSDS). Watch our safety video and read our blog article about safety for more information.
Fun Laser Material #3: Tile
A laser won’t cut through tile or stone due to the density, however these laser materials can be engraved. Laser engraving does not cut through the material rather it removes surface points of the material to expose 3-dimensional cavities that create an image or design. This means the surface of tile and stone can be decorated with custom images. Contrast will be key for truly remarkable results so utilizing polished stone is often preferred.
Keep in mind you could get different results based on whether you are using a Fiber laser or a CO2 laser.
Fun Laser Material #4: Glass
Laser glass engraving is another laser material that you can have fun with. Much like tile, this technique creates visible contrast on the glass allowing for custom images and messaging. The most common glass objects used for engraving are bottles and drinking glasses. This is achieved using a rotary which is a laser accessory that enables the laser to perform on curved or cylindrical objects.
Glass as a laser material can be tricky to work with and there's always a risk of breaking the glass. Make sure you only raster onto glass to prevent this from happening. Draping a wet paper towel over the glass as it engraves can also help as the laser will still fire through the paper towel and etch the glass.
Fun Laser Material #5: Acrylic
Acrylic comes in a huge variety of colors and levels of opaqueness allowing for a wide range of uses and designs. Even low powered laser tubes can cut thin acrylic, so it is a great material resource for makers and hobby laser enthusiasts. One word of warning about cutting any plastics - know that not all plastics are safe to cut with a laser due to toxic and sometimes lethal fumes. Always make sure you know that the acrylic you are considering is safe to use with a laser, or that the adhesives in the surface mask are safe to cut and engrave as well. If you are uncertain, request a copy of the MSDS from the manufacturer.
These are just some of the many laser materials that are great for using with a laser cutter. Thinking outside the (wood) box will open up endless creative possibilities for projects using a high quality laser cutter and engraver from Full Spectrum Laser. Feel free to contact our team at Full Spectrum Laser for any questions or assistance.