So we get a lot of questions on whether the lasers can cut acrylic… The answer is YES! Now the 2.8W laser has enough power at manufacturers specified current to cut through acrylic with enough speed to make it worth it!
The sample in the video and the pictures is from our optical acrylic shielding (we had defect pieces laying around the lab) so we decided to give it try. Depending on the material, you might need to adjust the speed or power to get the process you want. Many customers say it works great on different kinds of acrylic from opaque black, blue, and brown to semi transparent like the shielding we have.
The parameters for our test were:
|Material:||1/8″ semi-transparent acrylic|
|Driver Current:||1.3 amps|
|Approx Power:||1.6 W- 1.8W|
|# of passes:||3|
|Z change per pass:||– 1 mm|
Cutting the thicker pieces like the 1/8″ acrylic requires that you change the Z depth for each pass to make sure the focus stays on the cut zone. Start with focusing to the top of the material. Then, divide the thickness by the number of passes and change the Z depth down by this number on each subsequent pass. For example: a 3mm sheet (~1/8″) will have the first pass at 0 Z (focus). Then the second pass would be at -1mm and the third pass would be at -2mm. This allows for the laser to have the focus be precisely at the cutting level for each pass.
You can increase the power a bit more and get it to go faster and less passes but we like to run things at a minimum level to show the “worst case” scenario when trying out new processes.
The video shows an extra pass which just cut through the sacrificial layer underneath. We left it in the video because it is kind of neat looking with the reflections in the acrylic. We repeated the star with just 3 passes and it worked fine…
As always, make sure you use adequate laser safety gear when operating any high power laser.
**update 1/2019 – The new shielding we ship is a reflective shielding and not absorptive, so it will not cut easy anymore. These videos are of the older shielding we shipped in 2014.***
Check out the video!
Cutting various types of Acrylic
We have tried several types of acrylic and found each would cut but at different rates. Most fell within the 40 mm/min to 75 mm/min with either 3 or 4 passes. The hardest to cut was a generic white acrylic from the hardware store. It took 5 passes at 25 mm/min to get through. The take away from this is that it can cut acrylic, but depending on the type (there are a lot of different ones out there) and the color (white is harder), it might be a slower process. The trick is to find the acrylic for your project that can cut as fast as you would like. For some, taking 30 minutes to cut a project is not a big deal. Sit back and relax and watch the magic!
Here is a small circle cut in the hardest acrylic to cut we found: