Laser Cutter Material Settings

From CoMakingSpace Wiki

aftermath of a plywood testing session

Unfortunately you can't just calculate the perfect settings based on the power ("Watts") of a laser cutter because the actually delivered energy is always based on a combination of power and speed, which is different for each brand or model of laser cutter. To make things more complicated, 100 % power in a cutting profile is not the same as 100 % power in an engraving profile...

As there is always some trial and error involved, please share your experience with the others! You can often use experience from other machines as a rough starting point.

In general, cutting is usually done at 100 % power and the highest speed that will still result in a reliable cut. If 100 % speed still gets you through (e.g. paper or cardboard), you should reduce the power until you find the sweet spot. Besides the power setting, you can influence the invested energy by altering the pulse frequency - you may want to go lower on flammable materials like wood, where edges might otherwise become black, and higher on plastics like acrylic glass where you are aiming for a "flame-polished" edge. page 46

The width of the kerf (Schnittfuge) also depends on the laser settings and the material you're using and could be important for certain designs. Sebastian recommends to use the "DXF for Laser" Fusion 360 export plugin [1] and testing different settings for each material so you get tight fitting joints.

Laserscript LS6090 (80 W)

Check Forbidden and Possible Materials.

  • Power range: 1-100 %
  • Speed range: 200-400 mm/s recommended for engraving; higher speeds are achievable according to the data sheet [what is the actual limit??]

Here's what we've tried so far - please add your own experiences!

Material Thickness Operation Speed (mm/s) Power (%) Corner power Scan gap ("resolution") Focus Comments
Poplar Plywood 2 mm cut 30 100
Poplar Plywood 2 mm engrave 500 100 0.1mm
Poplar Plywood 4 mm cut 16 100 center (-2 mm) kerf: approx. 0.15 mm for a bit of wiggle room (for gluing)
Poplar Plywood 4 mm cut 20 80 center (-2 mm) Cut looks good; e.g. "Bastel-Sperrholz Pappel 4mm" from Bauhaus
Poplar Plywood 4 mm cut 40 100 30 surface cut just about goes through - much better edge quality than center focus with s20/p80
Poplar Plywood 4 mm mark (vector engrave, weak cut) 400 40 surface nice fine line; small test shapes don't work well as everything is overriden by "corner power" settings
Poplar Plywood 4 mm engrave/extrude 260 90 0.1mm Gives you ~2mm extrusion
Poplar Plywood 4 mm engrave/extrude 520 90 0.1mm Gives you ~1mm extrusion
Poplar Plywood 6 mm cut 12 100 center (-3 mm) kerf: approx. 0.15 mm for a bit of wiggle room (for gluing)
Poplar Plywood 8 mm cut 7 100 center (-4 mm) kerf: approx. 0.15 mm for a bit of wiggle room (for gluing)
Spruce (Fichte) 4mm cut 10 100 center Kleinteile > 3mm
Bamboo cutting board engrave 200 20 Surface quite good results. Not very deep, but good visibility.
Black anodized aluminium (bead blasted surface finish) engrave 200 60 Surface Very clean and bright lines. No change of surface texture to-touch. Increase resolution for finer details.
MDF 3 mm cut 19 100 Center (1.5mm) For larger objects, increase the power/decrease speed to adjust for unevenness of the object on the table.
Acrylic Glass (PMMA) 3mm cut 25 100 80 Center (-1.5mm)
Acrylic Glass (PMMA) 3mm cut 20 100 80 Top Surface
Acrylic Glass (PMMA) 10mm cut 3.5 100 100 Center
Protective Foil on Acrylic Glass 0.05mm cut 100 50 15 Center (-1.5mm)
Acrylic Glass (PMMA) - GS 5 mm engrave 400 50 Surface Good visibility
Acrylic Glass (PMMA) - GS 5 mm cut 2 100 Surface Cut looks good
Glass Engrave 300 40 Surface
Glass Black Paint Engrave 300 100 Surface scan gap 0.1, Bi-dir, Blow, Jo
Glass Black Paint Engrave 300 60 Surface scan gap 0.05, Bi-dir, 3bar, Jo
Softshell (100% Polyester) Engrave 450 15 Surface Using more power will burn through the material!
Fleece (fabric) Engrave 450 20 Surface Engraving results in general are good.

The visibility of the engraving depends heavily on the color of the used fabric.

Birch Plywood 8mm cut 10 100 Surface Cut looks good
Birch Plywood engrave 1000 80 0.075 mm Surface strong contrast (dark engraving); gap 0.1 or even 0.8 left visible remains
Birch Plywood engrave 400 30 0.15 mm Surface slight contrast (light engraving); subtle steps at the outlines (scan gap should be smaller)
Linol Engrave 250 100 Center According to Keno
Laser Stamp Rubber 2.3mm engrave 200 100 Product Link
Laser Stamp Rubber 2.3mm cut 12 100 Product Link
Slate (Schiefer) engrave 150-250 100 Surface Engraving on smooth black slate pieces create a light grey engraving with a rough texture
Yardstick (Zollstock) - Hornbach, "Maurerlob", yellow engrave 400 40 Surface light grey engraving - could even use a bit more power
Laserply 3160 (coated acrylic; black/brushed gold) 1.5 mm cut 80 100 40 Surface
Laserply 3160 (coated acrylic; black/brushed gold) engrave 400 40 Surface
EVA Foam 10mm cut 40 100 Center
Colored Card engrave 700 20 Surface Brown card - got nice results (documentation to follow)
Colored Card Cut 350 100 Surface Brown card - got nice results (documentation to follow)
Paper 0.4mm cut 50 100 Worked with speed 400, power 50 for small squares. But somehow didn't work for larger rounded shapes. Given values then worked for cutting shapes from (thick) colored paper.
Paper 0.4mm engrave 700 40 Worked for engraving text into (thick) colored paper. Not very dark, though.
PET 0.75 mm cut 60 100 Surface Hard to focus due to bend from the roll, lots of smoke! Leftover material from "Maker vs Virus"
Masking Tape (e.g. on wood) 0.1 mm cut 50 25 10 Surface Speed 100/power 50 also cut through with ease, but seemed to "wiggle" more

If we haven't tried a material yet, these Spaces with similar machines might have:

Epilog Zing (30 W)

Outdated - we don't have this machine anymore, but perhaps other Spaces can use our information :-)

Click "Expand" on the right to see the full table!

Material Thickness Operation Power Speed Resolution (dpi) Frequency Focus Comments
Poplar Plywood 4 mm cut 80 100 500 center (-2 mm)
Poplar Plywood 4 mm - any 3D engrave 100 75 250 surface simple black & white design - works for QR Codes!
Poplar Plywood 4 mm engrave 100 100 250 surface simple black & white design - nice brown color as result
Poplar Plywood 9 mm cut 100 27 250 5000 3mm
Beech Plywood 4 mm cut 100 60 500 center (-2 mm)
Beech Plywood 4 mm - any mark 10 100 500 surface
Beech Plywood 4 mm - any engrave 3D 100 100 500 surface
MDF 3 mm cut 100 60 200 2500 center (-1.5 mm)
Corrugated Fiberboard 2 mm cut 25 100 surface
Silver anodised aluminium engrave 50 100 500 surface black & white design
XPS (extruded polystyrene) 20 mm cut 45 100 center (-10 mm) very wide kerf (~ 2 mm)!
Acrylic Glass 3 mm cut 100 30 500 5000 (default) center (-1.5 mm)
Acrylic Glass 3 mm - any mark 20 100 500 5000 (default) surface about 0.5 mm deep
masking tape on metal 0.1 mm engrave (let disappear) 100 100 500 surface experiment to prepare an abrasive blasting mask - not successful, was blasted away...should work well for painting though
thin cardbord (frozen pizza box) 0.55 mm cut 20 100 500 2500 (default) surface
thin cardbord (frozen pizza box) 0.55 mm mark 8 100 500 2500 (default) surface
cellulose acetate (overhead slides) <1 mm cut 6-7 100 500 5000 (default) surface Power 7 cuts completely, Power 6 makes cutout adhere to template, but is easy to remove manually. Keep the printer clean ;)
blockboard (surface = birch veneer?) 18 mm - any engrave 3D 20 100 500 2500 (default) surface visible, but still letting the grain show through - more powerful settings (e.g. 100/100) go noticeably deeper but only a bit darker
vulcanized fiber 0.8 mm cut 100 100 200 5000 (default) center (-0.4 mm) lower power not tested yet
vulcanized fiber 1.5 mm cut 100 80 200 5000 (default) center (-0.75 mm) higher speed not tested yet