CO2 laser cutters can cut a wide range of materials in varying thicknesses and textures, but there are a few types of materials that should be avoided. For example, one type of plastic known as polycarbonate can produce hazardous fumes and even ignite when heated by a laser beam. PVC is another material to avoid because it releases toxic chlorine gas. However, most materials like wood, metal, glass, acrylic, and paper can all be safely cut or etched with a laser. The following are the top recommended materials to use with laser cutters.
While a laser cutter can cut or etch most types of wood, soft woods like aspen, birch, and cedar are the easiest to use in laser-cutting projects. Harder woods and oily woods with a lot of resin are not quite as easy to work with, though many people use them effectively. Some common projects using wood include etched wooden signs for businesses and homes, etched wooden box lids, laser-carved jigsaw puzzles, and engraved cutting boards.
A CO2 laser cutter is great for cutting thin leather (1/8″ or less) or etching leather of any thickness. Monogramming leather items like wallets, purses, and belts is one application of laser-cutting with leather. Designers also use laser cutters to cut designs in sheets of leather to make bracelets, bags, clothing, or jewelry.
Thin steel and stainless steel are both excellent metals for use with CO2 laser cutters, as well as platinum and titanium. A metal that is too thick to cut can still be etched effectively. Some common metal laser-cut projects include jewelry, business cards, ornaments, key chains, and engraved bottle openers.
A CO2 laser cutter can cut any kind of paper, from thin art paper to cardstock to cardboard. People who cut paper with laser cutters make invitations, greeting cards, book covers, and many types of arts and crafts. The precision of a laser cutter allows for the creation of delicate, intricate designs.
Laser cutters can also etch designs into glass, ceramic, acrylic, and some types of plastic. Most materials can be easily found at hardware or craft supply stores. Find more ideas for using a CO2 laser cutter with different materials online at Facebook.com/BossLasers.