Laser Materials Guide

ABS, cuts cleanly both films & sheet up to .250 (1/4″) in gauge. We frequently modify ABS enclosures that are .125 thick and we cut thin gauge ( .060) fire retardant on a regular basis.
Acetal, (Delrin, Celcon etc.) Cuts cleanly in thin gauges and engraves nicely and is used for fabricating
notary seal embossing plates. We often suggest acteal when doing close tolerance parts which include micro drilling. Many parts which are presently conventionally machined can be laser cut at a lower cost. And, secondary operations like counter bores can be done with simple machinery.
Acrylic, one of the most versatile laser materials . We cut up to 1/2’’, .472 / 12 mm stock on a regular
bases. .250 (1/4” ) and .375 (3/8”) gauges are more economical to cut. We stock a large variety of acrylic sheet and shapes. Acrylic both cuts and engraves nicely and is used as a two color laminate for everything from business cards to signage . Many Plaque, awards and identification tags utilize acrylic as a base material. There are a variety of methods and types which result in different effects. We can, for example, engrave lettering that appears clear or white.
Aluminum, laser cutting of aluminum generates slag; melted material deposited on backside of the material, so cutting is best achieved by conventional methods like milling and water jet; . However, laser technology has progressed in recent years, so there are exceptions! And, with thinner gauge stock and deburing; removal methods,, laser cutting can be an option.
ANODIZED ALUMINUM, can be laser Engraved and Etched. This kind of marking is common, and, untreated aluminum can be chemically treated after laser etch which will blacken areas which have been engraved. Anodized Aluminum is an ideal marking material because the vaporization the the anodized surface is very specific, small, allowing for detail on the order of the diameter of the beam being supplied to the material. Because of the detail, contrast and colors many instrument panels utilize anodized aluminum.
Brass, a true odd ball among laser materials, it can be marked but due to it’s softness it is more difficult
to mark than stainless steel. After years of trial and error and discussions with manufactures and suppliers, and the fact that some brass marks very easily and other “Grades” do not, we now “understand” the material. And,it is funky, unlike most materials there is considerable variation, and, if the material meets a specification, the metal percentages and methods of production within the stated specification can still lead considerable effectual variations when exposed to laser energy. We have developed techniques for marking most brass objects.
Cardboard, cuts cleanly, we have done stencils for one time use and industrial parts which involved
laminating to a specific gauge. It is possible to do very fine cut outs and intricate work.
Cold Rolled Steel, is a very laser cut able material. The quality of the cut and the amount of work
required to debur slag is in part related to wattage and the type of laser being used. This is a
material which we contract out for laser cutting, milling or water jet.
Copper, Best suited for conventional cutting like milling and water jet. Depending upon grades and coatings we have successfully marked copper parts.
Corian, Avonite, Fountainhead, these material all engrave beautifully and are frequently color
filled. We can mask many materials prior to engraving, color fill / paint / spray paint, etc…after
engraving but, prior to removing original masking for a simple two color process.
Fluoropolymers, We cut PTFE, Teflon, Viton and many other Fluoro based materials in a variety of gauges. Primarily Viton is used for gaskets, Teflon, expanded PTFE we have cut many designs and parts.
Glasteel, / fiberglass type mixes, only some very odd specialized materials, most like glass steel
and its competitors char significantly when laser cut.
Kapton, and many other specialized performance plastic films cut very nicely. We have found Kapton to be a real problem solver . We have the ability to offer gauges that go beyond Dupont’s standard films. Among the many parts we produce utilizing Kapton are chip carriers for wave soldering that fixture chips within .010 of each other, a narrow divider which cannot be conventionally machined in aluminum.
Linoleum, cuts cleanly, used in some printing processes and by interior designers.
Masonite, cuts, nothing we get excited about.
Melamine, which falls into the Phenolics category does engrave nicely.
Nylons, cuts very well and in the case of fabrics, the edges do not fray as they are sealed by the heat. PETG, cut well in thin gauges, we generally opt for a polyester instead.
Phenolics, Most varieties cut very well, again, especially in thin gauges, some charring
occurs which needs to be remove; debured. In many instances this is cost effective versus milling!
Polycarbonate, we wish, even thin gauges tend to discolor. So, for industrial purposes thin gauge
cutting may be acceptable, frequently polyester is a better alternative.
Polyester, we love it! Cuts clean.
Polyethylene, on a case by case bases, there is a lot of variation in results based upon dies and
formulas, thin gauge HDPE has it’s place for stencils but we prefer ABS for the same application.
Polypropylene, similar to polyethylene see above.
Polystyrene, cuts cleanly, we use black frequently.
Polysulfone, chars, not a particularly friendly material on lasers.
Polyurethane, cut cleanly.
PVC, PVC Foam Board, Vinyl’s, it can cut nicely, the process produces hydrochloric
acid which is not good for the machinery or people so we do PVC and PVC foam sheet on a limited bases.
Rubber, most elastomers cut nicely, there are special stocks for engraving rubber stamps etc. We
do Viton, neoprene etc.
Stainless Steel, We mark it in black with high resolution and we are experienced in treating the surface to adjust for reflectivity when applying permanent barcodes. Stainless steel is another metal that can meet a particular ASTM, and, within the range of percentage of materials that are acceptable per the specification can respond based upon that variability differently to laser energy. So, if say part of the mix is 5% to 8% Iron, a run with a lower percentage may mark different that a run with higher percentage of Iron. Much of our larger graphical work on Stainless steel is a permanent black mark achieved by bonding a ceramic to the steel with precision.
Wood, stock up to 1/2” to 5/8” thick, Veneers etc. We cut, engrave,do inlay, a versatile material for laser work.
In addition to the above, we work with Painted Brass, Glass, Crystal, Leather, Marble and Mat Board.
There is more information to be posted. We will also be adding technical information on additional Performance Plastics.