The laser cutters can cut materials up to 1/2" thick, although with some denser materials, no thicker than 1/8" is suggested.  We have two tables with suggested settings for Vector Processes and Engraving Processes on acceptable materials, however, exact settings will vary so a materials test should always be performed. The settings provided should be used only as a reference, since they are settings previously used by our team, but won't necessarily work the same way with your own material.

Also take into consideration that due to natural variations in the pressure of the vacuum, it is expected that the laser cutters might lose power over the day. For example, if you cut something in the morning, it might need a little more power if you cut again in the afternoon.

Prohibited Materials

The use of prohibited materials could result in the material melting to the laser cutter bed or the release of toxic fumes.  Due to the severity of risk, cutting prohibited materials will result in loss of lab privileges and fines for damages.  

Please note that the Co-op sells material that looks like acrylic but is made of PVC and styrene. These materials destroy the optics of the laser and lens, effectively rendering the laser cutter useless.
** Our laser cutters can etch certain coated metals; they cannot cut metal.

ATX Hackerspace also has a list of materials that should never be used for laser cutting: http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials#NEVER_CUT_THESE_MATERIALS.

Questionable Materials

Consult with Tech Desk Staff for approval 

For more information on materials that can possibly be cut (not all materials listed are approved by SOA IT), please see: https://www.lasercuttingshapes.com/page/materials.

Another valuable resource: http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials.

Acceptable Materials

Epilog Fusion Pro 48 CO2 80W 

Please do a materials test before every new cutting session to determine the proper levels for your material.

Any links for materials go to the Laser Cutting Shapes website, which is a laser cutting service. These links are only to give context and examples of projects. 

Suggested Settings – Always do a materials test

This blue table covers cut settings for Vector Processes, which are for clean lines. If you wish to score/etch your material with clean lines, you will need to experiment with slightly weaker settings than the ones listed below. This is another reason why running a materials test is imperative.

The yellow table (under the blue table) covers Engrave Processes, which are for raster images. You will rarely if ever, run an Engrave Process.

Vector (Cut/Etch) Process

MaterialDepthSpeedPowerFrequencyQuality & Safety Notes
Acrylic (Plexiglas)1/8" (3 mm)12100100

Vector cutting table (cross-hatched) must be used. A general rule of thumb for cutting acrylic is to relatively slow speed and high power; this produces a more flame-polished edge.

1/4" (6 mm)6100100There are two types of acrylic: cast is better for engraving (it creates a frosted look when engraved) and extruded acrylic produces a much better flame polished edge.
3/8" (9.5 mm)3100100Note from manual: Adjusting the standard focus distance so it is closer to the lens by about .080” (2 mm) will produce better edge quality when cutting 1/4” (6mm) acrylic and thicker. Two passes can be used for cutting thicker materials.
Chip

1 ply1002550
2 ply1005050
4 ply459050
Corrugated cardboard1/8" (3 mm)1006050
1/4" (6 mm)606050
Leather1/8" (3 mm)6010050
Mat Board (Crescent)
304050
Museum Board (Strathmore)1 ply10027.550
4 ply252550Will have some char on edges.
Plastic***2-Layer Laser Engraveable 1/16" (1.5 mm)1040100
Plywood1/4" (6mm) max1210010Recent incidents of fire indicate that this material requires caution and additional supervision if cutting is attempted. Additionally, glue and air pockets may prevent complete cut-through in some areas. MDF is recommended instead of plywood.
Twill
908025
Wood



Thin Veneer508010

Note from manual: When cutting wood, multiple passes may allow cutting of thicker materials. Using Color Mapping you can adjust the focus point between passes down to the center point of the cut for the best results. Always use the additional Sweep Air Assist when cutting.

1/8" (3 mm)2510010
1/4" (6mm)1310010
3/8" (9.5 mm)710010
1/2" (12 mm)410010

***Ask for approval/assistance for the exact plastic you want to cut.

Engrave Processes are for raster images only.

(Raster) Engrave Process

MaterialTypeDPISpeedPowerQuality & Safety Notes
Acrylic (Plexiglas)



Photo30010040

Vector cutting table (cross-hatched) must be used.

There are two types of acrylic: cast is better for engraving (it creates a frosted look when engraved) and extruded acrylic produces a much better flame polished edge.

Text / Clipart30010060


Text / Clipart50010055
AlumamarkEngraving30010020Engrave only. Alumamark settings PDF.
Engraving50010010
Anodized Aluminum

Photos/Clipart40010035Engrave only. This material is reflective, so avoid using full power. Use low power and high speed for crisp edges.
Photos/Clipart50010030
Text50010040
Brass (Painted)Painted solid brass30010025Engrave only. Must be painted. Not magnetic. Ask for assistance from the Tech Desk when etching this material. Use low power and high speed. Blue paints are more difficult to remove. If the finished product has a shadow, use alcohol or lacquer thinner to clean the edges. This material can be tricky: if it's polished before being painted, you'll see a polished finished product. If the brass isn't polished before being painted, the result will be dull.
Painted brass-coated steel50010015Engrave only. Must be painted. Magnetic. Ask for assistance from the Tech Desk when etching this material. Use low power and high speed. Blue paints are more difficult to remove. If the finished product has a shadow, use alcohol or lacquer thinner to clean the edges. This material is steel that has been coated with brass, that brass layer is polished, then a layer of lacquer is applied, then the paint is applied. When you etch it, you're exposing the polished brass that is protected from oxidation by the lacquer coating. This material is preferred over painted solid brass.
Cork
30010030Engrave only.
Fleece
20010015Engrave only. Jarvis dithering pattern and using 80% grayscale for black is recommended.
Glass
30035100Engrave only. Be sure that your material isn't actually leaded crystal. Jarvis dithering pattern and using 80% grayscale for black is recommended. Frosting is the result of etching this material. To dissipate heat from the engraving process, use either a wet sheet of newspaper/paper towel or a thin coat of dish soap.
LeatherPhoto30010020
Text / Clipart50010025
MarblePhoto Engraving30010035Engrave only. 
Text Engraving50010045
Plastic***

Various30010020Ask for approval from the Tech Desk when etching this material. 
2-Layer Laser Engraveable 1/16" (1.5 mm)30010040
2-Layer Laser Engraveable 1/16" (1.5 mm)50010025
Stainless Steel with Cermark Coating
50045100Engrave only. Must be coated with Cermark metal marking spray.
Wood



Photo50070100

Note from manual: When cutting wood, multiple passes may allow cutting of thicker materials. Using Color Mapping you can adjust the focus point between passes down to the center point of the cut for the best results. Always use the additional Sweep Air Assist when cutting.

Clipart / Text30060100
Clipart / Text50065100
Deep Engrave50030100

***Ask for approval/assistance for the exact plastic you want to engrave.

These are only suggestions: Every type of material will react differently with the laser, even from one
plastic to the next. Use these settings as your starting point then adjust one variable at a time until
you achieve the result you desire. Settings for any material are a matter of personal preference. Not
every material that can be run at high speed should be run at high speed. A better mark can often
be achieved by slowing your laser and giving the laser longer to react to your material.