Laser Cutter/Materials

From Ace Monster Toys Wiki

Things you can put in the laser cutter:

Note on plastics: Unless you have a label, it's almost impossible to tell what kind of plastic it is once it's formed. The $1/pound bin at TAP is great IF THE PLASTIC HAS A LABEL ON IT. See below on why you should not laser random plastic.

  • Paper/matte board/cardboard/pressboard/cork (card stock could have additives that should not go in the cutter; test a sample)
  • Acrylic, Delrin, Melamine, Mylar, Corian and some other plastics
  • Rubber
  • Wood (careful of fire—treated wood could have additives)
  • MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard—do a test for additives)
  • Cork
  • Cotton / other NATURAL fibers/cloth
  • Many other fabrics (Moleskine books can have high chlorine content and are bad!)
  • Cell phones (check for chlorine in the plastic)
  • Laptops (check for chlorine in the plastic)
  • Leather
  • Glass, ceramic, tile, marble (etch only; do not cut)
  • Anodized/coated/painted metal (etch only; do not cut)
  • Tortillas or cookies (the drier the better - you may not want to eat things that got laser ash on them, though)

Things you cannot put in the laser cutter:

  • Anything containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine, and ununseptium). This includes vinyl and many plastics (including Teflon), as well as Moleskine notebooks or anything 'pleather.' If you’re not sure whether what you’ve got contains chlorine, you can check on the MSDS (if you can't find it there, ask the vendor or manufacturer directly) or do a burn test to check.
  • PVC (contains chlorine --> hydrogen chloride gas --> hurts you and the laser)
  • PVC foams (contain chlorine)
  • Teflon
  • Lexan / polycarbonate / PETG (does not cut)
  • ABS (gives off hydrogen cyanide)
  • Vinyl (chlorine)
  • Polymer clay (contains PVC)
  • Foam core (usually made of PVC)
  • Styrofoam (catches on fire)
  • Steel (cannot be etched on a CO2 laser; risks reflecting the beam back up into the laser, either damaging the lens or—worst case scenario—causing an atomic meltdown)
  • Animals
  • People, people parts or your body parts
  • Butane lighters
  • Gasoline or other liquids
  • Polycarbonate
  • HDPE
  • Fiberglass
  • Pleather (most synthetic leather such as Moleskine covers contains nasty stuff; when in doubt about your synthetic leather, do a burn test)
  • Recycled felt (made of recycled plastic)
  • ANY OTHER ITEM NOT ON THE APPROVED LIST

See also:

http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials

Places to get materials:

Plywood:

Local

Acrylic:

Online

  • E Street Plastics — has a wide variety of colors (note that "Plexiglass" is just the brand name of acrylic)
  • OnlineMetals — contrary to their name, also sells plastic

Local

  • TAP Plastics — scrap pieces under 1 sq. ft. are cheap; larger pieces can be cut to size, but more expensive than buying online (see above); located in El Cerrito, San Leandro, SF, and Concord
  • Interstate Electric — min. order $150; must buy full 4'x8' sheets; free same-day delivery; prices about the same as buying online
  • Interstate Plastics — has an extensive scrap bin in the San Leandro location
  • Mr Plastics — has a $25 minimum but otherwise is less expensive than TAP; San Leandro; also carries ABS and PLA filament; unknown quality; low prices.
  • Artist & Craftsman — small selection, but very close to AMT