Here below you will find a material guide for laser cutting, with information about the main characteristics of our most used materials, their availability, and formats.
Each of them can be more or less versatile, and suitable for different applications depending on its properties and reaction to the laser. With the right attention to choice and treatment of the material, laser cutting guarantees clean and accurate results.
Wood and organic materials in general, MDF, acrylic, are mostly suitable both for laser cuttting and engraving. Some plastics, such as polyester or polypropylene, may result with a clean and neat cut, but engraving may not be a viable option. Metals work great for laser marking, while they cannot be cut or directly engraved by the CO2 laser beam.
Our stock comprises on a regular basis most common materials such as plywood, MDF, acrylics in basic colors, and some carboard. Other plastics, fabrics, felt, special-finished acrylics, metals, or finished products to customize, are usually ordered on request. Contact us for more info about the current availability.
Pricing and Formats
Material is priced per squared meter, and we work with standard formats of 900×600 mm, 450×600 mm 450×300 mm, 200×300 mm. Different formats within an area of 1000×600 mm are also available on request. Contact us to know more about laser cutting material pricing.
Your own material
You could provide your own material, if it is safe to laser cut. For this reason, the technical data sheet may be required in some cases. That said, we are always eager to test and experiment in order to find new solutions. So if you would like to enquire about other possibilities and discuss them together, feel free to contact us.
Laser cutting materials
click on the material for more details
In stock: 3-4-6-9 mm
Plywood is a material manufactured from thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together placing the wooden fibers perpendicularly to each other. This gives the material resistance in two main directions. Plywood offers many benefits such as water resistance, durability, and flexibility. Color varies according to the type of plywood. The surface is naturally textured and easy to finish, making plywood one of the most popular materials we laser cut.
Cutting and engraving plywood
Plywood cuts quickly and with an attractive finish. The edges take on a golden-brown color, getting darker as the thickness increases. Thick plywood’s surface might get a light smoked shade along the cut, requiring sanding if you wish to remove it. Infill engraving produces a nice brown mark, with high contrast, in terms of color and texture.
Tip: Let us know if you would like us to protect the plate by applying a masking layer, in order to avoid smoke marks on the top and/or bottom surfaces.
Applications of plywood
Laser cutting plywood offers possibilities at several scales, from large projects such us furniture or installations, to artworks, architectural models, jewelry, signs, and decorations.
Plywood can be both stained and painted, but even a layer of natural wax will already be enough to highlight its texture and give it a natural finishing.
Plywood needs to be treated and sealed for outdoor use and applications.
Tip: We recommend the usage of birch plywood for both art/decorative objects and for structural ones, due to its beautiful texture and strength. Poplar plywood’s main characteristic is its lightness, which makes it a great material for large projects, signage, and self-supporting objects.
In stock : 4-6-8 mm
MDF, medium-density fibreboard, is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers that are held together by particular wax and resin. Panels are then formed by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is therefore a homogeneous material and does not have favorite resistance directions.
Color is flat and can vary from light to dark brown, depending on the type of wood and binder MDF is made of.
Cutting and engraving MDF
MDF gets cut relatively slowly, and che cut line is neat and precise. Due to the binder composition in MDF, the edges get a uniform dark finish, and smoke marks occur with line engraving as well. Infill engraving does not provide best details and contrast, nor a texture.
Tip:MDF is a very cheap material, but since it is denser than avarage plywood, it may take longer to cut and can therefore turn to be more expensive. Consider this when it comes to big thickness, or the production of medium-large series.
Applications of MDF
Cheaper option than plywood, MDF is often used for prototypes but also temporary installations and marketing purposes. Due to its homogeneous composition, it is quite heavy, but solid and strong, which makes it suitable for structural parts of furniture for instance, when appearance and/or material value are not a priority. Since it is a very absorbent material, MDF can be painted after sealing but not stained, and it is not suitable for outdoor use and applications in humid environment.
Tip: since thickness tolerance is very low for MDF, and there is no deformation that can occur during the cut, it is suitable for precision parts or fine details in model making, for example.
In stock: 2-3-4-5-6-8 mm
In stock: clear, white, black, Various colors and finishes in 3mm.
Other colors and finishes can be ordered on demand, or you can provide your own material.
Acrylic, also known as PMMA and by brand names Plexiglas® or Perspex®, is a thermoplastic often used for laser cutting and laser engraving.
There are two basic types of acrylic, based on their production method: cast and extruded, which results in different properties and therefore applications. Acrylic comes in endless colors and finishes, from clear, black and white, through transparent or opaque colors, till mirror, metal, and stone looking, without requiring any surface-finishing.
Cutting and engraving acrylic
Laser cutting acrylic generally overcomes many limits of other methods such as saw cutting or milling: the result is a clear, smooth and “flame-polished edge”. Acrylic sheets are already provided with a protective film on both top and bottom surfaces, so no smoke’s marks can affect them.
Line engraving will stand out on clear, transparent, and frost acrylic, while it will be barely visible onto white or dark color plates. Infill engraving will leave beautiful and consistent frosty graphics on clear cast acrylic, but will produce striped and greyish areas on extruded one.
Tip: For infill engraving, the protective film needs to be removed from the interested zone. Gently rub with alcohol and a soft cloth to get rid of debris deposited on the surface.
Applications of acrylic
Acrylic finds large application where detail, quality and appearance are a priority: jewelry, luxury tags and packaging, furniture, and design in general. Its metal and stone looking versions, are a great tool for realistic (architectural) models. Opal and LED diffuser acrylics also offer many opportunities for lighting design and solutions.
More expensive than plywood and MDF, acrylic is mostly used for finished products, rather than for prototypes. It can be assembled, painted, but does not require any treatment for outdoor usage.
Tip: Cast acrylic is dimensionally more stable during the cut, but extruded acrylic presents minor thickness tolerance. Keep this in mind when making precision parts.
Plastic include a wide range of synthetic and or semi-synthetic materials which can be melted and molded into a solid shape. An in important classification of the kind of plastic is based on the grade of ability of the specific polymer to be melt and reshaped by keeping its chemical properties. Thermoplastics have this ability.
Following, you will find an overview about laser cutting thermo-plastics polyester and polypropylene. If you would like to know more about other types of plastics and their suitability to laser systems, feel free to contact us for advice and research.
Polyester (PET/PETG) and Polypropylene (PP) are the ideal choice for stencils, folding parts, models, and applications where lightness, flexibility, and water-resistance are important. They can be safely laser cut, although they give finest results in thin foils rather than in plates.
Polyester – PET – PETG (brand names)
Polyester is a lightweight thermo-plastic with a high gloss finish and a good transparency in the clear version. It can be folded, and therefore works great for origami projects, or folding parts. It is a perfect material to realize paint stencils, especially if clear. It does not absorb paint and is easy to clean after use. In scale models and signs, it also represents a lighter and cheaper alternative to acrylic, although acrylic is superior in rendering details.
Polypropylene – PP (brand names)
Polypropylene is a thermo-plastic with a different texture on each face. One side has a smooth flat finish, the other one shows a lightly rough texture. This results in a frost look of the clear version, which allows for lighting applications. As polyester, it can be folded, and therefore used for packaging, origami projects, or folding parts. It is a perfect material to realize covers or components that need flexibility, strenght, and water resistance.
Cutting and engraving plastics
Laser cutting foils results with neat and clean edges, which become slightly prominent as the thickness of the material increases. Yellowing along the edges might occur, so masking top and bottom surfaces is necessary when the foil/sheet is not already provided with it.
Line engraving can give good results but is not reccomended on foils and for detailed designs as it makes the material wrap.
Infill engraving is not possible because long exposure to heat causes these plastics to melt.
Laser cutting metals
Laser marked metal is largely used for tags, nameboards, and in the signage field in general.
Metals can be permanently marked, and they can only be engraved when a coating is present. Cutting cannot be performed as it requires wavelenghts other than that of CO2 lasers.
Laser marking creates outstanding black graphics and texts, and it gives best results on stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium as well.
Laser engraving is only possible on coated products by removing the layer of coating, in order to create two-color graphics.
Cardboard and paperboard
Cardboard and paperboard
Laser cutting cardboard and paperboard
Very popular with cards, packaging, display applications, model making and artwork, cardboard and paper can be laser cut into very intricate designs that one could not possibly do by hand.
Depending on thickness and type, cardboard and paperboard can be both line engraved and infill engraved. Cardboard and paperboard have the great advantage of being inexpensive. Easy to work with, they can be cut, folded and allow different types of assembly, making them an ideal material for low-cost and study models. Yet, notice that cardboard and paperboard have a low resistance to humidity and fire.
We do not stock cardboard and paperboard on a regular basis, but we can order them, or you can provide your own material.
Laser cutting cork
Cork is lightweight, water resistant, fire resistant, soft and flexible.
Its organic look and feeling, makes it popular in jewerly and decorative projects such as wall-maps and custom pin-boards. It is a natural choice for kitchen accessories, such as coasters and hot pads, but its properties make it ideal also for technical applications, when temperature, vibration, and noise need to be insulated.
When laser cut, the edges turn out dark brown and laser engraving results in excellent contrast, so that design details stand out. Line engraving for cork is recommended over infill engraving due to powder build up.
Laser cutting fabrics
Frequently used in the design and fashion world, laser cutting allows for cutting most natural and sinthetic fabrics into intricate patterns with precision and speed. Cut edges are clean and neat, and usually no yellowing occurs.
On the one hand, most natural fibers such as thick cotton or denim offer the advantage to perform well when infill engraved as well. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester come out with better sealed edges. In any cases, laser cutting provides a fast and cost-effective alternative to cutting fabric by hand.
Laser cutting leather
Great for use in luxury tags and accessories such as bags, wallets, scarves, labels etc. Laser cutting is a fantastic way to cut intricate designs in leather products, as well as logos and other branding for labels and tags. Leather cuts and engraves well on the laser.
Since we do not stock leather on a regular basis, we can order it for volume orders, or you can provide your own material.