Laser Cutting Acrylic

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Overview


Acrylic is a type of plastic that can be easily cut and formed to be used in many applications.

Safety


Warn.png ALWAYS keep a close eye on the machine when cutting acrylic due to its flammability

Types


There are two main types of acrylic sheet:

Extruded

Created by extruding molten acrylic pellets through a machine

  • Pros
    • Cheaper
    • Better tolerances
    • Easier to bend and form
    • Easier to flame polish edge
  • Cons
    • Easy to crack
    • Engraving produces grey frost
    • Lower optical clarity when compared to cast (still very high)
    • Less scratch resistant

Cast

Created by pouring molten acrylic pellets into a mold

  • Pros
    • Produces better results when engraving (white frost)
    • Comes in many colors
    • Machines better
    • Higher optical clarity
    • More scratch resistant
  • Cons
    • Expensive (your kid might not be going to college)

Cutting/Engraving

  • Table for common settings
SUBSTRATE 250 DPI
RASTER
ENGRAVING
SPEED/POWER
400 DPI
RASTER
ENGRAVING
SPEED/POWER
500 DPI
RASTER
ENGRAVING
SPEED/POWER
VECTOR
CUTTING
SPEED/POWER/FREQUENCY
Acrylic 100/100 100/80 100/60 ⅛ (3 mm) – 15/100/5000
¼ (6.4 mm) – 5/100/5000
(multiple passes may allow cutting of thicker materials)

Tips

  • If engraving, try to use cast acrylic as it will produce better results
  • When vector cutting, use masking tape on the backside of the piece to protect against flair up scorch marks as the laser hits the cutting grid.