Safety Guide for Laser Cutting & Engraving

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Warning: Some materials may become very dangerous during laser cutting or engraving. For your safety, exercise caution when processing them, understand the harm they may do, and take measures to protect yourself.

Material
Harm

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), vinyl, leather, artificial leather

Emits toxic pure chlorine gas with strong and pungent odors! Never cut this material as it causes the machines to corrode, and damages optical devices and the motion control system.

ABS

Exudes cyanide gas and tends to melt. ABS doesn't work well with a laser cutter as it is apt to melt rather than vaporize, and is likely to catch fire and leave melted gooey deposits. Besides, ABS is not a good choice for engraving because it tends to melt.

HDPE

Melts and easily catches fire.

Polystyrene Foam

Melts and easily catches fire.

Polypropylene Foam

Melts and easily catches fire.

Polycarbonate, latex paint

Changes color and catches fire.

Coated Carbon Fiber

Emits noxious fumes.

Acrylic

Emits noxious fumes. For your information, most 450nm laser can pass through acrylic. Laser beams emitted by semiconductor laser devices such as xTool D1/D1 Pro and M1 range from 450nm to 460nm in wavelength, which means most laser beams pass through acrylic instead of being absorbed. Compared to semiconductor laser devices, carbon dioxide laser devices such as Laserbox Rotary can process acrylic well.

 

Note: When you use laser modules that emit 455 nm laser beams to process materials with blue surfaces, most of the laser beams are reflected rather than absorbed. You need to increase the power to ensure proper processing.

Warning: Do not process reflective materials such as mirrors. It is extremely dangerous to get laser beams reflected, which may do you harm and damage laser devices.

 

Safe materials

Laser can be used to cut wood, paper, cork, and some kinds of plastic; and engrave most materials such as wood, paper, coated metals, stainless steel, plastic, marble, stone, tiles, glass, etc.

Cutting

Material

Note

Warning

Most woods

Avoid using oily or resinous woods.

Exercise caution when cutting oily or very resinous woods. It is easy to catch fire. Watch out while cutting wood at a speed under 2% at 10% power.

Plywood, composite woods

They are glued and probably not as satisfactory as solid wood.

 

MDF, engineered woods

They can be cut but may char to a large extent.

 

Paper, cardboard

They can be easily and nicely cut.

 

Cardboard, carton

They can be nicely cut but may catch fire.

Watch out for fire and exercise caution when cutting them.

Cork

They can be nicely cut. But the cutting may be affected by the thickness and quality of the cork. If too much glued, the cork may not be cut well.

Avoid using thick cork.

Polycarbonate

Thin polycarbonate can be cut but its color often changes badly.

Keep good ventilation and watch out for fire.

Depron foam

It can be nicely cut with smooth edges, popular in avocational making, remote control airplanes, architectural models, and toys.

Pay close attention when cutting it.

Cloth, felt, hemp fiber, cotton, leather

Thin cloth, felt, hemp fiber, cotton, or leather can be cut, but edges may char due to high heat.

 

 

Engraving

All the cuttable materials described in the preceding can be engraved. Besides, you can engrave:

Material

Note

Warning

Glass

The texture of engraved glass is similar to that of sandblasted glass.

Beams emitted by semiconductor laser modules of xTool D1/D1 Pro and M1 can't be directly used to engrave transparent glass. You need to put a sheet of laser engraver marking paper on the glass before engraving it.

Ceramic tile

Smoke and dust are generated when they are processed.

 

Anodized aluminum

It vaporizes the anodic coating.

 

Painted, coated metals

It vaporizes the paint.

 

Stainless steel

It burns its surface and changes its color.

Stainless steel can be engraved only with semiconductor laser devices, such as xTool D1/D1 Pro and M1.

Stone, marble, granite

White textures are engraved on it, and smoke and dust are generated.

 
 
 
 

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