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Cutting 1/8″ and 3/16″ Foam Board with the 1.7W laser upgrade kit

We have been getting a lot of inquiries about the ability to cut hobby foam core board.  So we decided to cut out a bit of time and do an investigation in the lab.  We went to a few stores to get a few examples of different foam board to test.  Here are the foam products we are going to test:

1. Hobby Store Cell Foam Board 1/8″ from Midwest Products.  This is the typical foam board you will find at your local hobby store.  It is all a consistent material with no outer protection or paper.

Hobby Store CellFoam Midwest Products

2. Office Depot Foam Presentation Board 3/16“.  You can find this in the presentation section of Office Depot.  It has a sheet of foam that is contained by two sheets of paper/poster board.

Office Depot Foam Board

3. Dollar Tree Foam Board 3/16″ White.  Similar to the Office Depot board with two sheets protecting the foam.  This one is more shiny though.

Dollar Tree White Foam Board

4. Dollar Tree Foam Board 3/16″ Black.  Same as number 3, but black.

Dollar Tree Black Foam Board

5. Wall Mart Elmer’s Dry Erase Foam Board 3/16″.  Similar to the other boards with two sheets of protection, but this one has a very shiny side for dry erase markers.

Walmat Elmers Dry Erase Foam

Test Conditions:

-Set the laser driver to 1amp (which will normally give about 1.1W of output power).
-Ran tests at various speeds.
-Ran tests with focus at the top of the board and at the bottom.

Results:

So the outcome was not all great, but not a complete wash out.  The  Hobby Cell Foam cut good as well as the Office Depot board.  The Dollar tree board would cut the paper and burn it and then melt the insides, not very good.  The Walmart board looked like it would cut, then it just had trouble getting through the foam.  So there are two foam products that work, the Hobby Cell Foam and the Office Depot presentation board.  Both are a bit different (one has a paper coating) so you can have some variation in making your projects.  Here are the details:

1.  Hobby Store Cell Foam Board – Optimal cutting was at 150mm/min with 4 passes.

2.  Office Depot Foam Presentation Board – Optimal cutting was also at 150mm/min with 4 passes.

All the others failed to cut.

Foam Board Cutting - 1W Laser

Foam Board Cutting Detail Cuts - 1W Laser

There it is, the answer to “will it cut?”  Two foam boards made the final cut!  (pun intended)

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