Did you know that a laser cutter can do more than cut wood or metal? In fact, there are a host of materials that can be used for an amazing variety of projects, many of which may be surprising. Let’s take a look at 5 fun materials you could be utilizing with your laser cutter today for your next project.
People are often surprised to hear a laser cutter can cut paper. It is not so much that a laser that can cut through wood can’t cut paper, but rather that it is surprising that a laser can be so delicate that it doesn’t destroy such thin material. The truth is, laser cutters are perfect for cutting patterns and images from paper with precision that is nearly impossible without an exacto knife and a lot of patience.
Fabric includes materials like cloth, polyester, Gore-Tex, silk and literally dozens upon dozens more. Like paper, a laser cutter is fully capable to cut fabric. Most commonly, this would be to cut patterns for clothing or costumes but could also include stuffed animals and pillows. Some fabric works better than others, so be ready to experiment.
A laser won’t cut through tile or stone due to the density, however, these materials can be engraved with a laser. Laser engraving does not cut through the material, but instead removes surface points of the material to expose 3-dimensional cavities that create an image. This means the surface of tile and stone can be decorated with custom images. Contrast will be key for truly remarkable results, so polished stone is often prefered.
Lasers can also engrave on glass. Much like tile, this technique creates visible contrast on the glass allowing for custom images and messages. The most common glass objects used for engraving are bottles and drinking glasses. This is achieved using a rotary, which is a laser accessory that enables using the laser on curved objects.
Acrylic comes in a huge variety of colors and levels of opaqueness allowing for a wide range of uses and designs. Even low powered laser tubes can cut thin acrylic, so it is a great material resource for makers and hobby laser enthusiasts. One word of warning about cutting any plastics is to know that not all plastics are safe to cut with a laser, due to toxic (and sometimes lethal) fumes. Always check the safety of cutting any material with a laser before use.
These are just some of the many materials that are great for using with a laser cutter. Thinking outside the (wood) box will open up endless creative possibilities for projects with a laser.