How a Laser Cutter Works
A laser cutter/engraver works by burning or melting a hole or slot in material. The heat comes from the infra-red light of the laser. The designer chooses the path the laser follows and its power setting to make cuts and patterns. For a more detailed explanation see ESAB Education.
- If you don’t know what the material is, then don’t cut it. It can poison you, cause a fire, or damage the laser system
- If a material you want to cut isn’t listed on the approved list below, please consult with a Peer Mentor and have an MSDS sheet ready for the Peer Mentor to look at.
- Never override any safety interlocks on the laser.
- A Peer Mentor must be present during the setup and operation of the laser.
- Always make sure the exhaust fan is on during the operation of the laser.
- Plywood, balsa, softwoods, hardwoods
- HDPE – tends to melt for sheets thicker than 1/8″
- Cotton fabric / felt / genuine leather
- Paper / cardstock
- Poster board / foam board
- Trotec brand materials
- Uncoated metals
Consult with the Peer Mentor on:
- Coated metals
- Carbon fiber
- Any material containing carbon, zinc due to potential fire or poison
- Polycarbonate or Lexan
- Any materials not listed elsewhere
- Any unknown material – you must know what you are cutting
- Materials containing bromine – usually anything flame retardant
- Polystyrene / polypropylene foam