Acrylic to Wood: A Complete Guide on Laser Cutting Materials

Laser engraving has opened a new door to crafting, designing and fabricating by allowing users intricate and precise cuts on a wide range of materials. It gives you an option to make a wide range of custom products which can come handy while gifting someone. You don’t have to worry about what to buy or whether the person will like it or not. Laser engraving is full of fun and exciting things for be it a hobbyist, artist or professional designer.

However, before using a laser cutter, it is important to understand the materials that each one is most suited for because not all laser cutters are created equal and it is also crucial to make sure the machine you select is suitable with the materials you want to use.

So, the materials that are safe for cutting or engraving will be the main topic of discussion as well as the potentially harmful materials will also be mentioned.

Before diving into the suitable materials that are needed to be used while engraving, let’s take a look at the engraving procedure.

  • Laser engraving is a precise and versatile process that uses a focused laser beam to etch or mark a material's surface.
  • Before starting the engraving process, you need to upload the designed file to the laser cutter software – Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, AutoCAD and once it’s done the laser moves precisely according to the design's instructions, etching or engraving the material as it goes.
  • Make sure to keep a look on the material during the process to get the desired result.

Now that you know how the process works, we're going to look at the materials:

  • Acrylic is one of the most suitable materials for laser engraving and is a popular choice among laser engravers and designers because it has a great clarity and consistency. It also comes in different colors making the designs highly visible. This material is excellent for making earrings, DIY objects, cake toppers, table signs and many more.
  • Wood is another most widely used material for laser cutters. It offers natural grain patterns, colors, and textures that add a unique and organic touch to engraved designs which is suitable for a variety of laser cutting projects, including signs, ornaments, jewelry, toys, and puzzles. Depending on the strength and speed of the laser, wood can be cut into a variety of thicknesses and shapes.
    An important tip that you need to consider while engraving wood is that it can produce some unwanted burn marks so, adjusting the laser power and maintaining the right speed is needed.
  • Paper and Cardstock materials are specially used for engraving intricate designs, fine text, and detailed patterns. This material is used for a wide range of applications, including greeting cards, invitations, wedding stationery, art projects, packaging, and more. While working with such materials it is crucial to understand the right paper weight and designs for clean and professional finish.
  • Fabric is a versatile and popular application, particularly in the textile and fashion industries. Both natural and synthetic fabrics can be laser engraved. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and wool engrave well because they have consistent and responsive properties. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and blends are also suitable for laser engraving.
    To ensure the best results when laser engraving on fabric, it's important to use masking tape and maintain material integrity.
  • Metal is a highly suitable material for laser engraving due to its durability, versatility, and the precision that laser technology offers. The focused laser beam can create fine lines, intricate patterns, and highly detailed text or images on metal surfaces with accuracy and consistency.
    It is also important to note that different types of metal may require specific laser parameters and settings to achieve desired results.
  • Leather is another material where you can show your engraving creativity. It is mainly used for making wallets, belts, purses, jewelry (especially bracelets), keychains and more.
  • Other than leather, rubber is also used for both cutting and engraving. It can be used to create customized stamps, keychains, watch bands and more.
  • Laser engraving on glass creates clean and sharp lines, resulting in a professional and polished appearance. The laser beam melts the glass's surface slightly, leaving behind a smooth and clear engraving. Though some glass compositions may react differently to laser engraving, so it's essential to test a small sample first and adjust the laser settings accordingly to achieve the desired results.

While talking about laser cutters/engravers few materials should be avoided:

  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene(ABS)
  • Poly Vinyl Chloride(PVC)
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polystyrene and Polypropylene Foam

Few Examples of Laser Cutter/Engraver

Hope this blog has helped you in understanding which materials are needed to be used while laser cutting/engraving. So to start your engraving journey buy suitable materials according to your laser engraving machines from Congeriem.